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Waterside Gobbler

A plastic fishing game for urban waterways to engage local communities and help citizens intervene in reducing plastic pollution.
London, UK

The plastic pollution crisis is increasingly top of mind yet it still can feel distant, and existential in our daily urban life. While studying in the Royal College of Art this project was launched to connect passerby’s to the problem by making it fun to fish out plastic…


Plastic pollution is quite literally everywhere and threatens our survival. Much of the pollution enters the ocean via rivers and is simply out of reach for bystanders, however we still see people go out of their way to pick up trash and take care of their environment. Wait a while in front of trash cans and watch the confusion that emerges in people’s behavior as they wonder which slot to discard their disposable into. ​


Field observations revealed that most people would prefer to do the right thing but oftentimes it’s unclear or inconvenient. While limited time and attention further limit the window of engagement, interactions that are fun can extend the window of opportunity. The aim of the waterside gobbler is to gamify plastic fishing and not only make it fun, but also create a literal and tangible experience between citizens and the environment.


While deploying prototypes of the Waterside Gobbler in urban canals, I received unsolicited applause from passing boaters, and unprompted requests from other passing citizens. The feedback has been immediate in the form of supportive crowds during exhibitions and interventions. Based on the experience it seems that the general public is eager to contribute if only tools to do so we’re available. This project also validated the power of play as a trigger and driver for pro social behaviors.​
Key Takeaways

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