Can photos of crushed cigarette packs or discarded soft drinks help rescue Philly from its overwhelming litter problems? Probably not, but isn't it worth a try?
Litterati is a startup that wants people to tackle litter through crowdsourcing and sharing, as the Business Journal explained last week. Their goal is to clean up the planet one piece of trash at a time, one photo at a time.
The idea is simple: See litter, snap and post a picture on Instagram tagged #Litterati, then toss or recycle the litter at hand. The result is a growing “digital landfill” of trash pictures online and hopefully, ultimately, tidier streets. The long-term goal for Litterati is to see if there are particular brands that generate the most litter through wasteful packaging. Each piece is also a point of data, showing hotspots for litter and different kinds of trash.
So what say you Philly? Let’s give this a go: If you’re on Instagram, we challenge you to try out #Litterati’s project. When you do, tag the trash with what it is (for example, #slurpee) and add @PlanPhilly too so we can see what’s getting collected in our fair city. How much we can pick up? What patterns will we find? I’m willing to try if you are.
This approach still doesn’t change the root cause of litter - behavior - but it might create some useful stats. As anti-litter campaigns go it might even work better than UnLitter Us or the sanitation parades of yore.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.