Litterati – There’s An App For That!

By: Lynne Hart
Over the weekend, after a 2-day conference in Mississippi and a full day at the Grease Festival, I decided I would just relax. OK, that’s where you laugh because my mind always seems to stray to our KALB mission and how we could be doing better.

In an effort to find new and fresh ways to tackle the litter problem in the Athens-Limestone communities, I searched my favorite place for inspiring information – TED Talks. That is where I discovered Litterati!

Litterati is an app that allows citizens to photograph and upload photos of litter they find and, of course, pick up. Litterati uses the geotags associated with the photographs to track where litter is found and picked up. There is an interactive map on their website that allows you to get down to street level to determine where and what has been picked up. I want our community to be covered in red dots.

I am so excited about this app! Since this app is cell phone-based and can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it seems to be the perfect app to entice our youth to get involved with litter cleanups. That’s not to say that we adults don’t love the idea of our efforts being logged, tagged, and counted in real time.

According to Litterati’s website, geotags provide insight into problem areas, while keywords identify the most commonly found brands and products. This data will help Litterati to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable materials and solutions.

The United States is the most active country using this app. So far, 447,618 pieces of litter have been photographed, tagged, and uploaded. The most prevalent type of litter tracked is plastic, with the second most common being cigarettes.
Recently during a litter cleanup walk in Oakland, California, a Coke can was discovered. This is not unusual, right? Well, this Coke can had a pull tab and a vintage design not seen in present-day Coke selections. Investigation into the design of the can indicated that this red and white diamond design was from approximately 1966. This can had taken only a slight beating from the elements with some fading, rust, and minimal signs of decay.

What are we learning from this? Litterati, based on hard information provided by their users, works to encourage packaging companies and manufacturers to find and use even more environmentally responsible materials. A class of students did a survey of their campus and found that straw wrappers were the most littered item found. The school no longer purchases straws. Problem solved.

I think it would be interesting to actually know what is out there and what is picked up. We’d love to have as many of our residents participate as possible!

How To Participate

  • Download the Litterati app for your iPhone or Android from the Apple Store or Google Play free of charge.
  • Set up your account – very simple!
  • Grab your cleanup supplies and take a walk.
  • When you find litter, snap a close-up photo of it.
  • When your walk is complete, you can upload the photos you’ve taken. Click on the photo in the lower left corner of your screen and it will take you to your photo gallery. You will be asked to select an existing tag or you can create a new one to describe the litter in the photo.
  • When you are finished tagging, you then upload the photos.
  • You have the option of clearing your photo gallery or you can retain your photos if you prefer.

I am anxiously awaiting additional information from the good people at Litterati so that we can make the best use of this app in our schools and the community at large.

We hope you will join us and would love your feedback letting us know what you think. I will include more details in our next eNewsletter. If you are not currently receiving our newsletter, please send us an email asking to be added to our contact list.

Let’s work together to make Athens and Limestone County beautiful!
By: Lynne Hart