Pick It Up!

Every year, we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic —  that is the approximate weight of the entire human population. Only 9% of that plastic is recycled, and all of it ends up in our oceans. Started by the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation in collaboration with The Opportunity Project (TOP), an initiative by the U.S. Census Bureau, our interdisciplinary team sought to tackle this plastic pollution issue on our campus at Georgetown.

Together, we founded the “Pick It Up.” Our founding team includes Elizabeth Linske, Jamal Jaffer, Anya Wahal, Elizabeth Nguyen, Anna Hoffman, Siddharth Muchhal, Sarah Mueller, and Gillian Meyers. With the support of the U.S. Census Bureau, we leveraged federal open data to create a digital tech tool that enables members of the public to understand the extent of plastic pollution locally and globally.

First, we built three educational modules teaching students about recycling and environmental activism. Second, we partnered with the Wilson Center and the Earth Day Network on the Earth Challenge 2020 App, the largest citizen science project in the world. Powered by federal open data, our platform enabled all residents of Georgetown to track their waste. Third, we created a strategy playbook, providing guidance for other campuses to replicate our initiative. Innovating with no starting point was challenging, but by leaning into our partnerships — with former Census Director Bob Groves, and Wilson Center Project Manager Metis Meloche — we took an important step in caring for our common home: planet earth.

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