Starting a global movement using a photography app is no small task, but that’s what Jeff Kirschner has done this last year. Using the hashtag #litterati, he’s managed to start a world-wide Instagram campaign that is helping to stop pollution and clean up the environment one piece of trash at a time.
His inspiration for the project came while walking with his two kids through the woods. One stumbled on a discarded can on the ground and, with the kind of bluntness only a child can achieve, said simply, “that’s not supposed to be there.”
This reminded Kirschner of his days at camp when the leaders would ask every camper to pick up a couple of pieces of trash before their parents came to visit, and ultimately led to the Instagram account and hashtag Litterati.
Using the account, he would photograph each piece of trash he picked up over the course of the day, hashtagging the photos as he went. Pretty soon others caught on, until he found himself staring at a photo of a beef jerky wrapper being picked up from in front of the Great Wall of China — his little project had quite literally reached the other side of the world.
Now, Instagram users everywhere can join the movement by taking a photo of the couple of pieces of trash they pick up each day. It may not seem like you’re making much of a difference, but the over 10,000 photos from 22 countries uploaded under the #litterati hashtag last year illustrate just how powerful the collective impact can be.
As the project has continued to grow, Kirschner has stared a Litterati website complete with a “Digital Landfill” that aggregates all of the photos hashtagged #litterati, keeping statistics as it goes. Can you guess what the most commonly Instagrammed and disposed of item is? Of the 10,089 pieces of litter picked up by the litterati, 642 of them were cigarettes.