The Testing Our Waters project offers a multi-pronged, design centered approach to reducing the accumulation of plastics in local waterways and international oceans through active community engagement and policy change. We will be designing Do It Yourself (DIY) trawls for citizen scientists to make and use in their nearby marine environments. Pollution collected in the trawls will be documented via a smartphone application and uploaded to a website platform. Results will build an online engaged community, regularly notify environmental stewards of the problem and propose policy changes.

In collaboration with:



Grant funding provided by:

The New School - Tishman Environment and Design Center

Autodesk Foundation

Barent Roth - Project Founder

Barent is a designer and professor dedicated to creating and teaching the importance of sustainable products, practices, and services. An educator at heart, he has taught at both of his Alma Maters, the University of Illinois where he received his BFA in industrial design, and the University of the Arts where he graduated with honors for his Master’s degree focusing on Sustainable Design. Co-founder of the award winning sustainable to restorative design firm grow-design, and the creator of the LA Green Drinks network, Barent started teaching a Green Living Workshop with Sustainable Works, a Santa Monica based non-profit committed to Environmental Education and Action, and quickly rose to Executive Director of the organization.

In addition to educating/advocating about the urgency for large scale sustainable efforts, he works to continuously improve his own personal impact by supporting sustainable businesses and cooperatives, enjoying a vegan lifestyle, purchasing renewable energy, and participating in the emerging paradigm of collaborative consumption.

Having married a New Yorker while living in California, Barent moved to Brooklyn in 2011 to live with his new wife, have a daughter and lower their ecological footprint (currently 1.34 planets).  He now teaches courses on sustainability and/or design at The New School in New York City while designing sustainable solutions.

Barent’s design for a BikeShare Helmet won the 2016 Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge for Best Professional Project.



Tainá Guarda

Tainá is entering her second year of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program at The New School. She became interested in the plastic marine debris problem after visiting her mother’s beach in Tofo, Mozambique. What shocked her there was not the normal pollution of a popular beach (although this too must be addressed) but the pollution she found on remote beaches where plastic flowed in daily from the ocean. In Spring, 2016 she developed a project for The New Challenge to go back to Mozambique and  explore the beach plastic using photography while working with local organizations already addressing the problem. Although her project did not receive funding, she met Barent as part of her research for the project and became the other addition to Testing Our Waters. She has helped with the brainstorming and testing phase of the project and is currently researching what digital tools citizen scientists can use to become more politically active as well as what policies need to be implemented to start tackling this insidious problem.

Aishwarya Janwadkar

Aishwarya is currently a Junior at Parsons School of Design. She met Barent and the beginning stages of the Testing Our Waters project during her foundation year when Barent was giving a presentation about the hardware trawl to her Sustainable Systems class. Aishwarya immediately became interested in the project and kept in contact with Barent who taught her Materials and Manufacturing Processes class her Sophomore year. When Barent’s project received funding, Aishwarya became one of the two students to be first hired by the project. After several productive internships Aishwarya has become a strongly seasoned and hard working entry level product designer with extraordinary creative thinking and project design abilities. She can be found testing the trawls, some of which she has helped create, designing the instructible or website pages or designing graphics to compel interested citizens in joining our project.