The Swell App

The Ocean Conservancy Phone app

written by Keri Lien

The contamination of our oceans is a serious problem. According to NOAA, every year almost one and a half billion pounds of trash end up in the ocean. The debris particles range from snack wrappers to discarded fishing and boating equipment. While some of this debris washes up on the shores of our local beaches, the rest poses a more significant threat. The refuse floats around in the ocean, scraping against reefs and damaging the living environments of a variety of oceanic species. Often, marine animals will eat the debris, mistaking it for food, which can cause sickness, injury, and death.

Keri uses the Clean Swell app to help record trash clean up data as she works on a Santa Barbara beach.

Photo Credit: Keri Lien

The pollution of the seas impacts the economy as well as the ecosystem. Most would agree that a trash-filled shore poses a threat to its popularity with sight-seers and beach-goers, and therefore detracts from the revenue which is brought in to a city or state through tourism. Nobody wants to spend their vacation next to a mountain of garbage. Furthermore, the presence of trash in the ocean can interfere with the navigation of ships through open waters, and can damage propellers of watercraft.

            Ocean Conservancy is an organization which aims to rid the seas of pollutants. They hope to stop the issue of marine debris at the source in order to protect the ocean and the life within it. Ocean Conservancy organizes the International Coastal Cleanup, which is the largest volunteer-driven event dedicated to cleaning up our beaches. In order to more efficiently log the amount of garbage collected, Ocean Conservancy has developed an app to replace the manual recording process. It is called Clean Swell.

"The Clean Swell app provides a more accurate and efficient way of recording and reporting the amount of debris which is removed from the beaches."

   The Clean Swell app provides a more accurate and efficient way of recording and reporting the amount of debris which is removed from the beaches. Clean Swell gathers data on the type and amount of trash collected in specific areas, delivering that information to scientists, researchers, and government officials in order to stop pollution at its source. This information helps direct what changes in policy and business practice ought to be made in order to preserve our oceans and wildlife. The app maintains a “cleanup history” which shows how much garbage you have collected, and the time spent collecting, and allows you to share it with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing this on social media allows you to raise awareness for this issue, and to get others involved in the solution.

Keri uses the Clean Swell app to help record trash clean up data as she works on a Santa Barbara beach.
Keri uses the Clean Swell app to help record trash clean up data as she works on a Santa Barbara beach.

Photo Credit: Clean Swell App

The Clean Swell app is extremely user-friendly. All you have to do is tap the icon that corresponds to the piece, or pieces, of garbage you have collected, and then submit the data when you are done with your clean up. It's like Pokémon Go, but for trash. You can even earn badges for collecting increasing amounts of debris! So the next time you are at the beach, hoping to capture a level 12 Squirtle (and finding only a school of Magikarp), fire up the Clean Swell app and help save some real-life turtles instead! Whether you use it on your own or with friends, Clean Swell is a fun way to make a huge impact on the health of our oceans. The app is available in both Apple and Android app stores, and is free to download, so nothing should stop you from getting out there, having fun, and making our oceans cleaner and safer environments for animals and humans alike.

Keri uses the Clean Swell app to help record trash clean up data as she works on a Santa Barbara beach.

Thanks Keri, for your effort to clean up the beaches! Nice work!

- Melissa 

Thanks for reading.

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