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Crowdsourcing clean-ups: this is Litterati

| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

American Jeff Kirschner is the brains behind Litterati. It’s a simple, clever way to leverage technology to encourage young people to get involved in cleaning up the planet.

On a nature ramble spoiled by litter, Kirschner remembered a childhood task: picking up five pieces of trash at summer camp. “Why not apply that same model to the entire planet?” he asked.

The only tool you and your students will need is a camera phone. Then, says Kirschner, find a piece of litter, photograph it with Instagram, add the hashtag #litterati and send it to Kirschner’s digital landfill. Lastly, throw away or recycle the litter.

Contributing to Litterati ( is enormously satisfying on a number of levels, points out Kirschner. Not only are photographers ‘doing their bit’ to clean up the planet, they’re becoming part of a global community in the process. And teachers can say that yes, they’re using technology in the classroom (see, for example, embedded&v=i8skTHMiCY8).

The project has gained unexpected momentum around the world. Explains Kirschner: “[Along] came the Great Wall of China. More specifically, a Litterati-tagged photo of a plastic wrapper laying on the walkway of one of the world’s greatest man-made wonders. That picture inspired the design of a global map which uses GPS to display where litter is being collected. As the Litterati movement grew, participants began tagging items with additional descriptors, providing insight to the most commonly found brands and products. Suddenly there was data.

“About 1.5 billion people are armed with smartphones, creating an unprecedented opportunity to gather a wealth of information. This newfound knowledge can be leveraged to make more strategic decisions about where we place commercial trash bins and recycling units. We can foster a deeper understanding of what brands and product types are most commonly littered, and work with those corporations to design more environmentally friendly packaging.”

Category: Summer 2014

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