What's Your Litterati Story?

Litter, Recycling, and Composting Stations at Burlington's Sound of Music Festival. By: Tomasz Wiercioch

Litter, Recycling, and Composting Stations at Burlington's Sound of Music Festival. By: Tomasz Wiercioch

I came across Litterati by chance one afternoon. By combining technology, social awareness and art, the Litterati is tackling this ever-escalating problem of litter one piece of litter at a time. Instagram users take a picture of litter, hashtag Litterati, and then get rid of the piece of litter. I was interested in how the organization was using social media to affect positive change and thought it would make a great story for The Starfish Canada. I reached out to Litterati for an interview and a few days later I was speaking with its founder, Jeff Kirschner, whose devotion to the cause inspired me to go beyond just writing a story. Last week, Jeff asked me to reflect on my Litterati experience.

What drew me to Litterati is its simplicity. The message is simple. Using it is simple. As someone who is actively trying to improve our environment, simple is hard to come by.  Listening to Jeff talk about the vision for Litterati gave me a fresh perspective on the litter I see everyday, along with a tangible and creative way of dealing with it.

Litterati has been a breath of fresh air. It has simplified the problem of litter and offers a creative way of dealing with it. I was encouraged to try and get Litterati on the radar of everyone I knew, so I spent a few months after publishing that first story spreading the Litterati word to just about anyone who would listen.

The improvised litter talks reached an apex on Fathers Day weekend, which I spent covering Burlington,  Ontario's greening efforts at the Sound of Music Festival for the Starfish Canada. Great music and sorting 15 tonnes of garbage turned out to be an amazing combination. As we sorted, me and a few of my fellow Burlington Green volunteers engaged with Litterati through photographing the oddest, and most interesting pieces of litter that came at the sorting station. As someone who is hesitant with new technology, getting on instagram (tom_starfish) for the event was surprisingly seamless, especially because I was using it for Litterati.

The next step for me in my relationship with Litterati is taking the message across Eastern Canada this summer. I am biking from Toronto, Ontario to St. John's, Newfoundland to raise awareness for local foodbanks (www.foodride.ca) and want to share the Litterati story along the way. In the longterm, I want to do everything I can to make sure Litterati becomes a commonplace activity for as many people as possible.

My reflection made me realize that there is a good chance that there are other Litterati users out there with the same passion towards helping the environment as I have. So, I ask,  “What's your Litterati Story?”. Maybe you took a beautiful photograph and are dying to give it more context using words. If you've participated in the movement, please don't hesitate to email me at tom@thestarfish.ca and we will share your story with the world!

A challenge like litter is enormous, and making a difference is difficult, but it really only takes one person. I want to do what I can to help Litterati reach many people in an effective, passionate, and inspiring way.


Tom Wiercioch