Jeff Kirschner uses social media to fight littering

Participants on Instagram photograph, geotag, label, and then dispose of litter. By identifying litter, he hopes to drive companies to reevaluate the kind of packaging they use.

By , Talking GOOD

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    Jeff Kirschner's website Litterati lets people tag photos to help identify those brands and products that generate the most litter. He hopes to use this data to work with companies and organizations to find environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to littering.
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Jeff Kirschner believes litter should be approachable, noticeable, and a spark for thinking about how we look at packaging and trash. He is an evangelist for the power of consumer engagement and education.

He is also a believer in our shared impact using social media – including its built-in metrics – to change public perception and stir public action.

All of these beliefs led him to create Litterati. (Click here to find the original article with audio clips from Jeff Kirschner.)

Recommended: 10 organizations that protect the environment

In Silicon Valley and the entire Bay Area, we are used to hearing about simple ideas that can change the world – mostly in the field of consumer and business technology. But what if a simple idea could help change an entire planet’s perspective on trash and packaging for consumer goods? That’s the good that Jeff Kirschner sought to create.

Here is Jeff’s idea: Use Instagram to photograph, geotag, label, and then dispose of litter. 

Jeff believes that we can make consumers more mindful and actually “see” packaging as the precursor to litter. And that can drive companies to reevaluate the packaging they use. I think he’s right. Notably, among the top 10 items tagged are Marlboro, Starbucks ,and McDonalds. 

Jeff’s theory is that it is valuable for these companies to know that their packaging is likely to end up as litter. And if it does, what could/should they do about it? And what would it mean to their consumers if they did?

That is the essential and simple idea Jeff put behind Litterati, and as it turns out thousands are following his lead.

For more visit Litterati

The 10 questions

IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?

To leave the world better than I found it.

HOW HAS THIS WORK CHANGED YOU?

It has opened my eyes. Litterati has changed the way I see my surroundings, but more directly, it’s changed my purchasing habits. I stay away from single-use packaging, buy milk in glass containers rather than plastic jugs, and purchase in bulk whenever possible.

WHAT DO YOU GET FROM GIVING?

A  sense of fulfillment at having made a difference in someone else’s life.

WHO IS A LIVING HERO AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM IF GIVEN THE CHANCE?

Elon Musk. “How do you shoot for the moon while remaining grounded in reality?”

WHAT EVERYDAY RESOURCES COULD HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR PHILANTHROPIC GOALS?

More people joining the Litterati community.

WHAT IS A BURNING QUESTION THAT YOU HAVE FOR THIS COMMUNITY?

What would get you to pick up more litter?

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE?

One Piece at a Time

TELL US SOMETHING YOU RARELY SHARE IN PUBLIC?

I’m currently writing a sitcom about a Jewish preschool. That, and I’m ticklish under my armpits.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE CITIZEN PHILANTHROPISTS?

It’s okay to start small. Connect with like-minded people, build a community, and give it space to grow.

WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED, AND WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

QUESTION: What’s one of the most valuable life experiences you’ve had? ANSWER: Backpacking around the world for a year. It opened my eyes to how other people live and taught me the importance of empathy. 

Dan Cohen is Founder and Principal of Full Court Press Communications. He’s a recovering political consultant, lawyer, and big-brand PR guy who now uses his skills to help make social change through strategic communications (mostly in California). His article was originally posted at Talking GOOD, a series of interviews with “citizen philanthropists” who champion causes and lead by example. To nominate someone for a Talking GOOD interview, visit this link.

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