How One Instagram Hashtag Fights Pollution


Instagram can make any situation look better: Flowers appear rosier, skies brighter and complexions clearer. Even garbage can become a work of art on the mobile photo-sharing platform.

About a year ago, Jeff Kirschner was walking with his two young children through the woods, when his daughter Tali noticed a can on the ground. “That’s not supposed to be there,” Tali noted to her father.



That reminded Kirschner of his days at summer camp. The camp director would ask each of the 200 campers to pick up a couple pieces of garbage before their parents visited; it only took a small effort to clean the entire premises. Kirschner wondered if this same model of crowdsourced cleaning could apply to the planet as a whole.

That’s when he began using Instagram to document photos of trash, on the account @litteratiand with the hashtag #litterati.

“Because of Instagram, I suddenly had a record of the impact I was having on the earth,” Kirschner told Mashable.

After some time, more people began to tag their photos with #litterati. When Kirschner spotted a photo of a Chinese beef jerky wrapper in front of the Great Wall of China, he realized this simple hashtag could have some serious potential. Through Instagram, people could not only share their participation, but because of the geo-tagging feature, there would be a record where the garbage had been picked up.

That’s when he launched Digital Landfill, an archive of all the photos captured with the #litterati hashtag. Kirschner approximates that 10,000 pictures have trickled in from 22 countries in the last year.

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