The next time you’re driving in your car, riding your bike, or simply taking a walk, take a quick glance at the side of the road. I guarantee that you’ll see litter. And not just a few pieces of litter, but hundreds if not thousands of pieces strewn the length of every mile across our Commonwealth.
Litter is on our roadsides, our exit ramps, our wetlands, our forests, and our front lawns. It’s everywhere—and no matter how much you pick up, it seems to come back the very next day. We should just give up and let the litterers win. Right?
Oh, heck no!
I’m writing to tell you that there’s a new weapon in the fight against litter—data. When you pick up one piece of litter, you have picked up one piece of litter. But when you also take a moment to photograph that piece of litter using the Litterati app on your smartphone, you have just made it possible to prevent future litter. At the time of this writing, 10,102,386 pieces of litter in 165 countries have been picked up using the Litterati app. Here’s how YOU can join in the movement:
- Download the free and easy to use Litterati app on your iPhone or Android device
- Open the app and photograph a piece of litter with it
- Discard the litter properly and tag the photo. Tagging litter is just like tagging your family photos with people’s names, dates, and locations
- Invite or challenge others to join you. More on this in a moment!
- Use the recorded litter data to get neighbors, local businesses, companies, community organizations, and local government to implement targeted litter reduction action plans
I started using Litterati in Westford, Massachusetts in February 2021. Since then, 55 residents have joined me in picking up 2,940 pieces of litter. What does that look like? The image above is the first-ever “Litter Map of Westford, Massachusetts.”
Every dot on the pictures above indicates locations where pieces of litter have been photographed (and cleaned up). Each photograph has the time and location of pickup, type of litter, and the company brand. With this data, you will know exactly which companies cause the most litter in your town or city. Your local government will know the most effective locations to place trash cans. Volunteer groups will know where to spend their time while having the highest impact on protecting our wildlife and preventing litter from entering our waterways. But we can only accomplish this if we work together. We need your help.
My request to you is to start a new Litterati challenge in your town. I set the goal for Westford at 10,000 pieces of litter. You can pick any number that seems achievable for you and your community by the end of 2021. Then share your unique challenge code with friends in town, the local news media, and on social media. I commit to personally helping any organizer who launches a challenge in educating their volunteers on the app usage.
We can’t solve our litter crisis by picking up one piece at a time or chastising someone caught in the act. But we can solve the problem if we collect data and study the larger patterns of litter in our towns and cities. I’m inviting you today to be an unapologetic optimist with me. I’m inviting you to download the Litterati app and join the growing community of anti-litter initiatives here in Massachusetts. Let’s make a lasting change in our state!
Here’s one more action you can take: Sign our petition at www.change.org/litterfreemass and urge our state leaders to launch a statewide Litter Prevention & Cleanup Task Force.
For more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the links below to learn more about Litterati: