Mississippi River volunteers tracking and removing plastic for a pilot project

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Pollution in the Mississippi River is a problem that we have been battling for decades. But there is a new effort to clean things up. That’s where we find FOX 2’s Patrick Clark.

 “You’re looking at some of the debris pulled from the Mississippi river shoreline and the river earlier today Saturday,” says Patrick Clark, in North St. Louis.  “Conservationists and volunteers gathered here, trying to reduce the amount of plastic in the mighty Mississippi.” 

 With kayaks at the ready, and remarks to be made, the clean up along the Mississippi river was underway Saturday morning at north Riverfront Park off Riverview drive. 

“We see cups, beverage bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers,” says Dr. Jenna Jambeck, University of Georgia.  “So a lot of the single use plastic that we end up using every day.  It leaks out of the system.” 

“It’s the original main street and we are trying to sustain it, restore it and make it the splendor that it used to be,” says Colin Wellenkamp, Executive Director Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative.  “As well as being the world’s number one working river. A lot of the economy, especially in the United States, 5% of U.S. GDP depends on the Mississippi River.” 

With the muddy Mississippi rolling by in the background,  

Civic leaders, volunteers and members of the Mississippi river cities and towns initiative, the mayors of the Mississippi river in partnership with United Nations Environment Program, National Geographic Society, and the University of Georgia, went to work. 

Alongside the group of 35, Brightside St. Louis, the Greenway Network, Rotary Club, and the Missouri Department of Conservation stream team unit also taking part.  

Cleaning up trash along the Mississippi river and using the marine debris tracker app to track plastics so that scientists, policymakers and businesses can reduce the amount of plastics in the mighty major river. 

“This is a GPS tracker,” says Jambeck, pointing to a modified water bottle with an antenna.  “So the kayakers are helping us launch this today.  So this will tell us how plastic travels down the river if it gets to the river.  We don’t really know much information about that.  So this will go and send a GPS signal of where it’s located and how it travels down the river.  We’ll really be able to see what does happen.” 

The group started last weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and will head north next week to Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

Using their app to track where plastic bottles like this wind up. 

“This will allow us in real time to have a live, citizen driven audit of all the plastic waste along the Mississippi river from start to finish,” says Wellenkamp.  “That will give us some really good data on making some good policy decisions on how to keep that plastic out of there in the first place.” 

“You can see some of that trash pulled from the river,” says Clark, pointing towards the river.  “You can become a citizen scientist and download that debris tracker.”

Location:

North Riverfront Park
10550 Riverview Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63137

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