What do you think about, when you think of Social Media?  Selfies, gossip and social updates of what everyone else is doing?

To the most extent this is true, a few do raise causes to “Like” and bring awareness too.  One cause is taking the world by storm, it is Litterati.


I was fortunate enough to talk to Jeff Kirschner regarding his world changing cause…  Litterati.

What is Litterati?

Litterati is a movement making people aware of the litter around them and making litter “approachable”.  Approachable how? you may ask.  By taking photos of litter and posting these images on to Instagram, and then discarding the litter thereafter.

How did this concept come about?

Jeff was walking through the woods of Oakland, CA in the USA, with his two small children, someone had thrown a tub of cat litter into a creek. Then Jeff’s daughter said “Daddy that doesn’t go there” and Jeff responded “That is right sweetie.”  That was the moment that Jeff became aware of the litter that was all around them.

So he took his phone and took a photo of litter and a few weeks later he looked at his phone again and saw he had about 20 photos of litter on his phone, then he uploaded it to Instagram.  Where he started getting followers and people following suit.  This is how Litterati was born.

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Photos taken by people from all over the world, and the photos are added into the digital landfill.


Jeff started something called a digital landfill, grouping the litter into categories, with the help of Instagram and was able to see who took a photo, where the photo was taken as Instagram makes use of Geotagging their photos and when it was collected due to the time stamp of the photo, Jeff was then able to put this information on google maps where he noticed that the key to making a real long term change was in the collection of the data.  Jeff said he needed the data to approach companies or Municipalities of cities to show the findings of his data, in order for changes to be made.

world map
Information gathered imported into world map


What impact has Litterati brought about?

At the time of this publication, Litterati has disposed of over 170,785 pieces of litter.

Jeff has been approaching schools to creating awareness of litter and though Litterati making it fun to pick up litter.  One school took up the challenge, Fremont Open School in Modesto, California, USA, collect over 1,247 pieces of litter and instagramed each item.

The school noticed that a large portion of the litter collect was straw wrappers, so with this key information the children approached the school’s cafeteria and the stopped using straws covered in a wrapping.  A simple solution to a litter problem that otherwise would not have been noticed.

Below, you will be able to see a list of the most commonly found items picked up and photographed.

Common items found


Going Forward

Jeff noticed that Instagram has its limits and only so many photos could be loaded at a time to Instagram or Facebook.  So Jeff approached a friend who has helped him to develop and new Litterati app, which can load multiple images to the digital landfill gallery with geotag and time stamps in place with brand related headings, so the items can be immediately categorised into the correct categories.


The logo for the new Litterati app, can be down loaded on to your iPhone from iStore and is currently been tested to work on Android devises.


So how does Litterati work?

  1. Take a photo of a piece of litter with your iPhone mobile, Litterati app.
  2. Upload photo/s, select description of litter.
  3. Throw out or recycle the litter.

Who is behind Litterati?


“Individually you can make a difference.  Together we create an impact” Quote from Jeff Kirschner

Jeff Kirschner founder and driving force behind Litterati.  Jeff who is a professional writer and farther of two, working in the advertisement world for years, has been able to take his marketing skillset and launch a new visionary platform his passion “To see a litter free world”.

So what now?

Each city, town and even street can have its own litter profile that can help cities identify key issues and make small but impactful changes.  Say you notice that there is a lot of KFC food packaging being thrown away.  What if you are able to approach a company like KFC with the relevant data and work together with a them, to say add more dust bins on a certain street, to reduce the negative image your company is receiving being littered and at the same time doing away with the litter.  This will be able to bring about good press for KFC and less litter on the streets.

Just imagine what would happen if we took ownership of our litter in our towns. If we all just “Litteratied” one item a day.  Jeff’s vison of a litter free world is possible.


Street view of litter collect in a localised area.

So how is this relevant to South Africa?

Litter is the same all around the world, if you are waiting for someone else to bring about change, it is never going to happen.

“Individually you can make a difference.  Together we create an impact”. Quote from Jeff Kirschner,

So take up your phone or notebook and start taking photos and picking up the litter around you.  Let’s make a difference one paper at a time.

Litterati new app is up and running for iPhones, but is currently testing their new app on Android devices.  Watch this space for more details pertaining to the new Litterati app.


For more information view Litterati website on:


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