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We’ve spoken about the issue of plastic waste in a few previous episodes, but the problem of litter extends much beyond that. There are many other materials and items that are used in an increasingly disposable manner and that contribute to this epidemic.

The problem of littering extends far beyond the environment. Yes, it has impact on wildlife within the oceans or on land as they ingest non-biodegradable materials or become trapped. But other problems of littering include the cost for a start with £7 million being spent on cleaning up litter every year in just the UK. Then interestingly there is a phenomenon where an increase in littering has been shown to lead to an increase in other negative behaviours in an area. Known as the ‘Broken Windows’ theory it shows that littering and vandalism create an atmosphere of disarray and lawlessness, encouraging greater criminal behaviour.

These days though we are seeing an increasing trend towards putting emphasis on the consumer. Even Prince Harry said in a speech recently that using plastic was a ‘dirty habit’. But I would argue that the dirtier habit is from the companies and brands who use and produce the waste in the first place. But those brands and supermarkets seem to be passing the blame onto the consumer and making them make the choice, and they are getting away with it a lot of the time because they seem so powerful and highly funded. However, the innovation I bring you today hopes to change that.

Litterati is a mobile app, created by Jeff Kirchner. It started off simply as an instagram hashtag, but it started to grow into a global movement. Jeff then realised he was collecting lots of useful data and perhaps this data could be leveraged to approach brands who were the main litter offenders.

In the interview Jeff will share some of the stories of how that is working in the real world and how the power of ‘big data’ can be used for good and not evil for a change. We also talk about how even though littering isn’t neccessarily the biggest environmental issue of our time that the app can be used as a gateway into other issues and a way to engage people on an accessible issue.

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