Here at Modern Milkman, we know that everyone has the power to save the planet, and that influencers aren’t just for YouTube and TikTok. Our latest series delves into the power of influence, and shines a light on the wonderful people doing wonderful things to create a brighter, greener future.
This is the story of Litterati, an inspiring, independent company that has turned the seemingly impossible into the achievable reality, bringing millions of people together for one environmental mission.
Who are Litterati?
Litterati are the pick of the litter-pickers (try saying that four times in a row after a few shandies).
Uniting eco warriors, sustainable brands and organisations all over the world, they have built a platform that “empowers people to create better solutions for the litter and waste problems our world faces”.
So far, their 255,000 community members have picked up over 15 million pieces of litter, across 185 countries.
Starting to see why we love them?
The Litterati mission
Litterati’s mission is “to create a litter-free world”, by empowering people to “make a significant, measurable impact on the environment”.
Using data and collaboration, they have pioneered positive environmental changes all over the globe, inspiring brands to be more sustainable, and leaders to facilitate reductions in litter and waste. Their influence even led to an increased litter tax across the pond!
The litter problem
2.25 million pieces of litter are dropped on UK streets every day (Keep Britain Tidy).
Looking to pick up more ways of collecting litter? Read our blog on the Great British Spring Clean for inspiration.
Take a hike, litter – the Litterati story
In May 2012, Jeff Kirschner and his children were hiking in the woods, when his four-year-old daughter spotted a plastic tub of cat litter in a creek.
“That doesn’t go there,” she said.
These four words cast Jeff’s mind back to his childhood summer camps, when the director would ask him and his fellow campmates to collect five pieces of litter before their parents arrived.
“You get a couple hundred kids each picking up five pieces, and pretty soon you’ve got a much cleaner camp,” he said during a 2017 TedTalks. “So I thought, why not apply that crowdsourced cleanup model to the entire planet?”
A week later, Jeff took a picture of a cigarette butt on the street, and uploaded it to Instagram. He then posted a picture of a discarded sweet wrapper. Then some fast-food containers. Then a coffee cup. Within a few days, he had 50 photos, each one a record of his positive impact on the planet.
Other people saw and heard about what Jeff was doing, and were inspired to follow in his litter-picking footsteps. Slowly but surely, a community grew. But the community wasn’t just collecting litter, it was gathering data, too.
Every photo told a story that identified not just the problem, but also the path to a solution. These pictures didn’t just show what litter was being dropped. They showed where it was being dropped, when it was collected, and who was picking it up.
Litter was brought from the background of our lives to the very forefront, with this movement opening people’s eyes to the waste filling our natural world. As more people got involved, Jeff created a world map of every litter-picker engaged in the campaign.
This was the makings of the Litterati app.
The Litterati app
Just like our customers’ personal plastic saved scores, the Litterati app is a fun, accessible record of your positive environmental impact.
We actually used the Litterati app for our Rubbish Summers campaign, when our team collected over 814 pieces of litter in a single afternoon, before inspiring local communities to collect another 10,664 pieces. Thanks to the app’s data, we were able to discover that drinks bottles, cans, food wrappers and cigarette butts were the biggest offenders.
How the app works:
- 1. You take a picture of a piece of litter you’ve collected.
- 2. Litterati records where the photo was taken using geo-tagging.
- 3. Litterati adds tags to identify the piece of litter, before using these insights to help brands with commonly littered products reduce their environmental impact.
- 4. Your photo is then uploaded to a database, and added to your account’s personal impact.
The power of influence
“That doesn’t go there.”
These simple words from a 4-year-old inspired a global community of litter-pickers, now sweeping the planet one piece at a time.
A fitting origin story for the Litterati mantra: “One is always just the beginning.”
How to make an impact
Since Jeff Kirschner’s daughter spotted that cat litter box in the Californian woods, Litterati has become an intuitive app used all over the world, removing over 15 million pieces of litter!
“Individually you make a difference,” says Jeff. “Together we create an impact.”
The average Modern Milkman customer saves over 100 plastic bottles every year, and this makes a helluva difference to the planet. But the second you share your waste-reducing journey – whether that’s recommending us to a loved one or boasting about your plastic-saved score at the pub – is the second you make a lasting impact.
Litter can take thousands of years to breakdown if it’s not collected. But a spark of inspiration and collaboration can illuminate the path to a brighter future far beyond our imaginations.
Want to join the fight against waste? Begin your milkround and start counting the amount of plastic you prevent from entering our oceans.
Already signed up and enjoying our scrumptiously sustainable produce? Good for you! Have you tried referring us to your loved ones to further increase your positive impact? Remember, recommending the milkround is mending the planet!
Find more inspiration
Keep the inspiration train going with our other Power of Influence blogs!