This app makes it fun to pick up litter | Jeff Kirschner


This story starts with these two — my kids. We were hiking in the Oakland woods when my daughter noticed
a plastic tub of cat litter in a creek. She looked at me and said, “Daddy? That doesn’t go there.” When she said that,
it reminded me of summer camp. On the morning of visiting day, right before they’d let our anxious
parents come barreling through the gates, our camp director would say, “Quick! Everyone pick up
five pieces of litter.” You get a couple hundred kids
each picking up five pieces, and pretty soon, you’ve got
a much cleaner camp. So I thought, why not apply that crowdsourced
cleanup model to the entire planet? And that was the inspiration
for Litterati. The vision is to create
a litter-free world. Let me show you how it started. I took a picture of a cigarette
using Instagram. Then I took another photo … and another photo … and another photo. And I noticed two things: one, litter became artistic
and approachable; and two, at the end of a few days,
I had 50 photos on my phone and I had picked up each piece, and I realized that I was keeping a record of the positive impact
I was having on the planet. That’s 50 less things that you might see, or you might step on, or some bird might eat. So I started telling people
what I was doing, and they started participating. One day, this photo showed up from China. And that’s when I realized that Litterati was more
than just pretty pictures; we were becoming a community
that was collecting data. Each photo tells a story. It tells us who picked up what, a geotag tells us where and a time stamp tells us when. So I built a Google map, and started plotting the points
where pieces were being picked up. And through that process,
the community grew and the data grew. My two kids go to school
right in that bullseye. Litter: it’s blending into
the background of our lives. But what if we brought it
to the forefront? What if we understood exactly
what was on our streets, our sidewalks and our school yards? How might we use that data
to make a difference? Well, let me show you. The first is with cities. San Francisco wanted to understand
what percentage of litter was cigarettes. Why? To create a tax. So they put a couple of people
in the streets with pencils and clipboards, who walked around collecting information which led to a 20-cent tax
on all cigarette sales. And then they got sued by big tobacco, who claimed that collecting information
with pencils and clipboards is neither precise nor provable. The city called me and asked
if our technology could help. I’m not sure they realized that our technology
was my Instagram account — (Laughter) But I said, “Yes, we can.” (Laughter) “And we can tell you
if that’s a Parliament or a Pall Mall. Plus, every photograph
is geotagged and time-stamped, providing you with proof.” Four days and 5,000 pieces later, our data was used in court
to not only defend but double the tax, generating an annual recurring revenue
of four million dollars for San Francisco to clean itself up. Now, during that process
I learned two things: one, Instagram is not the right tool — (Laughter) so we built an app. And two, if you think about it, every city in the world
has a unique litter fingerprint, and that fingerprint provides
both the source of the problem and the path to the solution. If you could generate a revenue stream just by understanding
the percentage of cigarettes, well, what about coffee cups or soda cans or plastic bottles? If you could fingerprint San Francisco,
well, how about Oakland or Amsterdam or somewhere much closer to home? And what about brands? How might they use this data to align their environmental
and economic interests? There’s a block in downtown Oakland
that’s covered in blight. The Litterati community got together
and picked up 1,500 pieces. And here’s what we learned: most of that litter came
from a very well-known taco brand. Most of that brand’s litter
were their own hot sauce packets, and most of those hot sauce packets
hadn’t even been opened. The problem and the path
to the solution — well, maybe that brand only
gives out hot sauce upon request or installs bulk dispensers or comes up with more
sustainable packaging. How does a brand take
an environmental hazard, turn it into an economic engine and become an industry hero? If you really want to create change, there’s no better place to start
than with our kids. A group of fifth graders picked up
1,247 pieces of litter just on their school yard. And they learned that the most
common type of litter were the plastic straw wrappers
from their own cafeteria. So these kids went
to their principal and asked, “Why are we still buying straws?” And they stopped. And they learned that individually
they could each make a difference, but together they created an impact. It doesn’t matter
if you’re a student or a scientist, whether you live in Honolulu or Hanoi, this is a community for everyone. It started because of two little kids
in the Northern California woods, and today it’s spread across the world. And you know how we’re getting there? One piece at a time. Thank you. (Applause)

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Comments

  1. Love it, I also like the video game for surfers who pick up trash while surfing in the game – I love the solutions – let's clean up the world.

  2. If picking up litter is fun then litterers are the actual ones spreading the joy!

    (also I picked up trash and recyclables from a national park today. 😛 )

  3. How about not littering and fining those who litter? It's not cleaning up that will make the world much cleaner, it's not leaving trash a around. Picking trash after others will never be fun, it should not be fun.

    However, this app has it's practical use, just as the man said. collecting statistics, creating policies, checking how these work – very useful.

  4. the problem isn't people littering, its the fact that these plastic things were made in the first place. even if you throw the litter in the bin its just gonna keep piling up in tge garbage dumps till it covers the whole world.

  5. A point to keep in mind is that much of it still goes to landfills. Reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order of importance

  6. This was my idea exactly 1 month ago. My wife picks up litter every time she sees it. Now she can take pictures of them… I was so busy doing school projects, never had a chance to implement this app… Well hopefully I'll be there next 😉

  7. You are only going after the symptom. Find a way to go after the inconsiderate dbags that littered in the first place. Like give people a reward if they catch people (on camera) red handed while they litter in public. It won't work at a business, they are in love with money so they wouldn't want to risk ticking off a customer that is also littering.

  8. This might be the perfect place to get some feedback on my position for picking up litter. Picking up another person's trash doesn't stop that person from continuing to litter. I will pick up litter and the trashy human will go on to repeat the offense. The thought of being in this endless cycle of picking up someone else's trash who is going to replace it with more trash, gives me a feeling of fatigue on the matter before I even start. This app is great, but at the same time disappointing in revealing how much trash isn't making it into the trash bin (and I know not all rebellious litter was intentionally discarded by a human). I want to hear about an innovative tactic for curbing the act of littering in the first place – not a method of recruiting the better people to pick up after the hopeless slobs. Responses, please…?

  9. I pick up litter when I walk my dog. There really are a lot of cigarette butts. When the street is clean, people are less likely to litter, but if it's already a pig sty, they might figure that no one cares, so it's easier to litter. Mostly I just like to create beauty wherever I can.

  10. this guy saw the pokemon go craze and was like.. ok that's cool.. but what if people caught LITTER instead! gotta catch em all!

  11. How about parents teaching their kids not to litter? None of my family ever does so why should we be penalised financially for selfish people who litter without thinking? Otherwise, great plan to teach.

  12. ขอบคุณครับ

  13. Honestly this idea is good for collecting data about trash. what trash is where. but when it comes about cleaning up I'm not sure how successful it is coz when I would not bother taking out my phone taking a pic turn on GPRS just for clearing a piece of plastic.

  14. I go on hour long walks with my grabber stick and a few bags mostly at night (night because I do not need the thumbs up or graduate) I have autism and although I appreciate your support I do it for one when I walk the that place again I see mostly clean= happy two exercise =happy three it is a constructive way to stem. I have never seen a litter bug but have seen humans discard there litter without care and it doesn't upset me or make me think there bad just slightly thoughtless. I do not report it to anyone. I see it I pick it up my mother always told us as kids leave it better then you found it. keep your money keep your applause don't expect someone to fix the world for you.find enjoyment in making your world better.this has been your autism awareness moment. PEACE…

  15. I go on hour long walks with my grabber stick and a few bags mostly at night (night because I do not need the thumbs up or graduate) I have autism and although I appreciate your support I do it for one when I walk the that place again I see mostly clean= happy two exercise =happy three it is a constructive way to stem. I have never seen a litter bug but have seen humans discard there litter without care and it doesn't upset me or make me think there bad just slightly thoughtless. I do not report it to anyone. I see it I pick it up my mother always told us as kids leave it better then you found it. keep your money keep your applause don't expect someone to fix the world for you.find enjoyment in making your world better.this has been your autism awareness moment. PEACE…

  16. how about we stop making the garbage in the first place, because once it's made from the factories it doesn't matter whether someone buys the stuff afterwards or not, it has to go somewhere. cities are nothing but giant garbage producers that ship it off into the countryside or worse burn the garbage.

    seriously though. this crap is dumb and pointless. stop shipping your garbage to other places.

  17. a simple strategy to achieve a better and much more surrounded free koukouminati state.
    Gpa tags
    fingerprints
    collecting data on human
    taxes which pay always the lowest classes.
    cheap excuses involving children animals and invironment.

    nobody cares about the deaths of thousands in middle East or Africa or the oil pipes in North Dakota which is destroying the real invironment as the oil spills and the industrial pollution neither the wars being funded by the same 'ppl'

    lets collect a freaking litter
    make amerika clean again

  18. Awesome idea, I got excited just to find out that it's just for iPhone. You got to kidding me, it's 2017 guys wtf

  19. Good idea on first view, but why not teach people not to throw trash on the street? Also kind of problematic because of infected needles, bacteria and other things you don't want to touch. This is the type of stuff you pay taxes for.

  20. That a good example for how the data and knowledge can lead to the understanding that would not have been obvious at first.

    When you see somebody throwing trash onto the ground all the time, then you know that person is going to do bad things in personal relationships too.

    Taiwan and Japan do litter less. It's in their culture to carry a small plastic bag, so that you can use it for trash, if you need to.

  21. So you need millions of person years of R&D inventing space flight, satellites, GPS, computers, the internet, smart phones, hi-res digital cameras, and big data, just to tell people that throwing your plastic wrappers all over the place is wrong? Oh boy…

  22. If posting photos of litter to display a sense of duty is bringing the encouragement required to have a cleaner planet, then great! 😀
    Perhaps gamification of the process would serve well where so many methods to induce moral sense have failed.

  23. Beautiful Idea, time to implement it worldwide! Imagine a worldwide competition between different countries on which city picks up the most litter!

  24. OMG! Let's makes this about money? About brands? Really… You need an App to be civil? Go to Japan and you rarelly see liter. You know why? EDUCATION. Everyone knows that you have to take care of where you live. Kids even CLEAN THE SCHOOL from a young age. The fact that someone thinks that we are better if we have an App for this(?)… It is just sad.

  25. it is not enouth have a physical garbage- and this project help us create more digital garbage for social network

  26. absolutely Hanoi is so polluted, I think that app will be useful, I hope you will be successful

  27. Just shows what impact one person can have…that he started keeping track through Instagram & the rest is history …

  28. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  29. he doesn't have a clue if people in india start taking it seriously, his servers will be jammed and databases full 😛

  30. Interesting idea – but I'm still not sure why it makes people pick up more litter though? Just seems to make it even more of a hassle – get your phone out, start the app, take a photo, tag it, etc. Easily a couple of minutes spent per piece of litter, while just picking the litter up only takes a second or two. Is the incentive here that you get to show what a good person you are on Instagram?

  31. 🙁 I hope that this applies in Iraq, but no one is listening and there are no awareness campaigns for people very few

  32. I had the pleasure of Driving Jeff on his way to SFO (Lyft Driver). We touched on a lot of different topics. The one that stuck with me most was the Litterati App. Such a great idea! I downloaded the App as soon as he vacated my vehicle and I can't wait to use it. thanks ,Jeff!!!

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