A Close Look at how a College Campus Organization aids a National Program to Reduce Human Waste
The Litterati campaign, a play-on-words of the secret society known as the “Illuminati”, encourages the use of social media to positively change the way students dispose of waste. UVA Sustainability, an organization committed to our campus community’s sustainable practices, actively encourages people to participate in the Litterati campaign, as well as to utilize online social networks in an attempt to truly spread the word and establish a society open to the public. Online social networks have become powerful sources of effective communication and motivation of young people in our society. With this in mind Jeff Kirschner, a father from the Bay Area of California, decided to begin the Litterati. Kirschner envisions a “litter free world” through both bottom-up and top-down processes. The Literatti campaign is comprised of a communal Instagram and Twitter page that allows those who are interested in the movement to post pictures of various items of trash or recycling found in their communities, and then recycle that trash. Kirschner has taken his page further by utilizing the location tagging, or “geo-tagging,” technology available on Instagram to identify where each piece of litter is located. The accumulation of pictures taken by members of the Litterati serves as a virtual representation, or “digital landfill,” of waste products in specific areas.
As the founder of this movement, Kirschner directs his focus primarily on the top-down work revolving around the campaign. This type of promotion involves working with city governments, local stores, and brand names in an attempt to prevent pollution in certain areas, whether it is through providing more places to throw away garbage, or redesigning products and their packaging to be more environmentally friendly. While Kirschner and others work with production and prevention, his followers work to document and dispose of what they can to maintain the bottom-up efforts.
One of Kirschner’s loyal followers, the UVA Sustainability organization, works from the bottom-up to promote the Litterati. They are the first college organization to create a Litterati campaign contest – the student who posts the most pictures on the Instagram page will win a prize. Providing an incentive to students, whether it is a cash prize, gifts, or simple recognition, is just another way to find support in the community for this noble cause. Kirschner’s idea has great potential and could truly make a difference in our communities recycling efforts. Ultimately, the communities’ involvement and participation is key to making the Litterati a true and effective society.
UVA and other members of Jeff Kircshner’s Litterati movement have taken advantage of the technology Instagram has to offer to work towards creating a litter free world. Although somewhat low-tech, geo-tagging is easy, effective, and proves the point that he wishes to make. With the right objective and mindset, social networks that are primarily seen as forms of entertainment, can be transformed into a tool for advancement. “#Change” is the first trend displayed on the Litterati’s twitter page. Hopefully, other universities will join the movement and start spreading the word. This movement is a telling sign that regardless of how old and worn the cause, change is almost always a possibility – it is only a matter of finding people to make it with.
This article represents the sole opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Change-Magazine.