“#potavristou” is an innovative citizen-science and citizen-engagement campaign against marine litter that was initiated by AKTI Project and Research Centre (AKTI), and a group of creative and dedicated volunteers, in 2019. #potavristou literally translates to “reach out” in the Cypriot dialect, but also has the meaning of “giving a helping hand”. The aim of the #potavristou campaign was to reach out to and engage the citizens of Cyprus and ask them to self-act, give a helping hand to the fight against marine litter. AKTI, implemented for the second year the #potavristou campaign: through its social media and several other media platforms motivated individuals to simply “reach out”, anywhere they were during the entire month of September 2020, and collect the litter lying around them. As this was a social media campaign, a “social media challenge” approach was taken, to make participation fun. Individuals were encouraged to take a photo of them “reaching out” and send us some basic information on their location and the number of litter they had collected, using the social media hashtags #potavristou, #akti and #CleanOn. The results of 2020, just the 2nd year of the campaign, have been astonishing! 2016 volunteers participated and sent data, from 187 locations in Cyprus and 20 locations abroad! 12 tons of litter were collected, 70% of which are plastic and also 12 million reaches through social and conventional media.
With #potavristou, AKTI aims to strengthen its outreach for enhancing citizen engagement and its capacity to offer broader advocacy to a larger spectrum of citizens groups through (1) empowering/encouraging citizens to act against marine litter, (2) gathering important-for-research citizen-science data that are scarce in Cyprus, (3) liaising with key stakeholders to identify effective measures to stop the flow of litter to the marine environment.
In November 24,2020, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of AKTI, Dr. Xenia Loizidou, will present #potavristou campaign and its results in a radio show in Cyprus, which will be recorded and promoted through social media of AKTI. This action aims to promote the significance of citizen science and the effectiveness of self-action and co-responsibility through the success story of the awarded #potavristou. This way of public outreach is part of AKTI’s public awareness actions.