The Bay Area may have a reputation for being extremely eco-conscious, with its well-documented disdain for plastics, zeal for reusable shopping bags, and slavish loyalty to Whole Foods. Some would even categorize it as “crunchy.” And many residents are fine with that terminology. But despite its reputation, the Bay is still a place that battles urban pollution like any other grouping of American cities. And among its challenges, litter remains the most frustrating.
That’s why Oakland resident Jeff Kirschner started Litterati. It’s a digital media campaign that he hopes will change the way local residents and their cities participate in the cleanup process.
It’s a simple idea that has the potential to carry a big impact. To participate, people can Instagram garbage they’ve come across in parks, gutters, or on the sidewalk, and hashtag it with #Litterati. That photo gets added to the website’s “Digital Landfill,” which operates as a map, allowing Kirschner to identify hot spots that need to be addressed with city officials.
For instance, if he witnesses an overflow of trash around Oakland’s Lake Merritt, he can approach the city with data that supports an increase in garbage cans in that area.
Additionally, the keyword tags on photos help identify the specific brands and products that generate the most litter. Taking that data to those companies, Kirschner can work with them to find environmentally sustainable solutions.
Founded just last year, Litterati is slowly expanding into international territory, with garbage mapped in the U.K. and Asia. Though snapping a photo may seem like a small act, it’s that accessibility to activism that makes it so attractive. Hopefully, the easier it is to participate, the faster changes can be made.
Would you photograph your own city’s litter? Let us know what you think about Litterati in the Comments.
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