Most people making an attempt to live greener and help clean up our planet have at least one moment when they feel their efforts are futile. It would be nice if there were a way to see the impact of these actions and how they are making the world a better place.
Enter the simple beauty of Litterati.
The brainchild of Jeff Kirschner, via a simple observation by his daughter, Litterati can be described as, “A movement that uses Instagram to clean the planet – one piece of litter at a time. And in the process, the community is collecting a ton of data.” See the video of the story and mission of Litterati here.
In it’s simplest form, Litterati invites people to be interactive with their trash pickup. This is how it works in 4 easy steps:
1. Find a piece of litter
2. Photograph it with Instagram
3. Add the hashtag “#Litterati”
4. Throw out, recycle, or compost the litter
That’s it: short, sweet, effective, and fun. To be more helpful, add a description of the product/brand of litter.
For some people, Instagram and tagging are second nature. For those who need further explanation, here are some good starting points.
A guide for new users of Instagram can be found here.
Use this link for other Instagram help, including the use of hashtags.
Using Litterati is revolutionary due to two key factors: the amount of data collected and the access to a digital landfill.
The data that is offered by these photos has far-reaching implications. First off, Instagram uses geo-tagging. This means that each picture has a stamp that associates it with the point on the planet where the picture was taken. When the data is applied to a map, an amazing mosaic of spatial distribution can be seen (see the current global map here). Areas with enough pictures taken allow users to see where trash is being left. Along with the image and the description on Instagram, anyone can see a complete pattern of littering. Using this data in a top-down approach, municipalities, businesses and other groups can target certain areas with more receptacles and focused cleanup efforts.
Secondly, the images have a time stamp dictating when the trash was found and discarded. Now a person can see what type of trash is being thrown out, where it is located, and then track this through time. Essentially, if someone picked up trash in an area, they could come back to that area in a week or a month and see if there is more trash than last time, or if the steps being taken to prevent litter are working.
As the amount of pictures grows, so do the data and the amazing things that can be done to clean up the planet.
The digital landfill found on the Litterati website is a great tool to help anyone see the difference they make and apply a bottom-up approach to global cleanup. As the pictures come in, they are posted to the website, showing not only what trash has been picked up, but also listing the statistics about that trash. A visitor can see how many plastic bottles have been picked up, or if there are more of a certain brand being tagged. Furthermore, through this site and Instagram, users of this system have an instant visual and numeric answer when someone offers the, “what difference can one person make” approach. Now anyone can pull out their phone and show them exactly how much of a difference he or she is making.
Among the many reasons this movement is so great, it offers an effective, fun way to work together with family, friends, and groups to make the world a cleaner place. Through events like contests for the best picture of trash, group walks (check out the this video of the middle school kids) and neighborhood cooperation, a large difference can be made in a quick and easy way. Walk with your children and make it a learning, bonding, and creative experience. On and individual note, pick up one piece of trash when you take your dog for a walk, go for a run, or just stroll around downtown. It’s a start and it’s habit forming.
This examiner is truly hoping this movement can take strong root in the St. Louis metro area. So often trends spread to us from the coast, and this is a great movement to spread from the heart of the nation while installing pride and cleanliness in our communities. Check out the Litterati website to be amazed and inspired into action.