DIY – Microplastics and Waterways

Topic Key

Biological Consequences

Marine Debris Concepts


Sources of Marine Debris

Strategies for Mitigation

Source: Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research

"Created with baby’s tights, soda pop bottles, and other inexpensive and easy to find materials, Babylegs can be used to trawl for floating marine microplastics from a boat (motorized or hand-propelled). It is designed to mimic the type of samples collected by the more expensive Manta Trawl: floating microplastics less than 5mm in size. BabyLegs usually requires trawl times of 20 minutes to an hour, so is not appropriate for use by hand. If you do not have a boat and would like to check local waters for plastics, we recommend the Ice Cream Scoop, or a shoreline study."

BabyLegs microplastics sampling device. (Source: CLEAR)

Source: Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research

"To address the problems of marine plastics and public science, we created an educational tool geared towards children: the Ice Cream Scoop Trawl. This is a simple technology that children can help make and use it to learn about marine plastics. It is used to test for presence of marine plastics at the water’s surface. An ice cream container is modified so that water can pass through it and fitted with a handle so that a child can pull it through water. The trawl features two types of mesh, one larger to prevent large debris from passing through, and on the further end, a finer, screen mesh to prevent collected samples from escaping. Reused, affordable and readily available materials are used in its design to prevent cost barriers for individuals interested in building their own technology."

A sample collected using the Ice Cream Scoop. (Source: CLEAR)

Source: Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research

"Microplastics are less than 5mm in size and account for over 90% of the world’s marine plastics. But they are often missed in beach clean ups and many people do not see them. This protocol is designed to count microplastics on sandy beaches. "

The microplastics shoreline survey in action. (Source: CLEAR)

DIY Tips from the Experts

Family Handyman
Scientific American