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Litterati - An inspiration for Cali Paddlers to unite and be awesome

January 26, 2016 Clarke Graves

Cali Paddler LitteratiRecently, Greg and I were having a strategy meeting for 2016. It began with recapping all the amazing people we have met this past year, and we had confirmed that paddlers are a most special breed. Included on our list was how Cali Paddler can continue to make a positive impact with clean waters and beaches. We brought up the names of companies and organizations that have inspired us, like Patagonia, Ocean Minded, and Surfrider, and wondered aloud what other groups might be out there who would join us our our quest to rise to a new level. We had a phone call soon with one such company and movement. And our frame of mind was perfect when the phone rang.

"Hi this is Jeff Kirschner, from Litterati," the call started. And so too did a very inspirational 30 minutes of enriching dialog. Allow us to share what we learned.

Imagine taking the trash that we see, and pick up each time we go to the beach or waterways, and cataloging it. Imaging being able to track what it was, where you found it, when you picked it up. Imagine being able to assemble all this data and present it to the companies who design their products, so they can see their impact, and consider changes to packaging, or somehow reduce their litter footprint. Now, imagine each person being able to do this in seconds using their smartphone. I am sure you can imagine the possibilities. We sure did! Jeff, Greg and I took turns espousing ideas of how this could be, and already is, revolutionary.

  • Starbucks being shown that they have stir sticks turning up as 33% of all litter any time there is location within a mile of a beach.
  • A local school being shown that the highest found piece of trash on campus is the clear plastic from milk and juice straws, and opting for a different brand.
  • Phillip Morris being shown they are the highest percentage of cigarette butts at parks near a lake.
  • Local beach authorities shown that during extremely high tides that trash cans placed too close tend to float away or tip over, resulting in the trash floating onto the beach and info oceans.

Companies certainly are not the ones littering. We understand that, but if they can take ownership of what they produce, and make decisions in the future that might reduce the negative association of having their logo shown at trash cleanups, a difference can be made. Perhaps more trash cans and/or better placement of them for customers as they exit their property. Teaming up with local cities to sponsor branded trash cans at popular spots that lack convenient trash cans. Our ideas were enthusiastic and quick...but the true power was about to unfold.

You see, Litterati.org has only begun to catch fire. But it is based on the same principles that have made crowd-sourcing efforts successful elsewhere.

  • Make something easy, so you have millions of people join in.
  • Make it fun.
  • And this last you will understand why Cali Paddler is such a fan...make it a community!

Litterati is made up of people like us who do beach cleanups, care about stewardship, the animal and fish ecosystems, and our own future generations. It is made up of all of you and you didn't even realize it. Every time you pick up trash on a paddle, or while rigging your canoe, or carrying your paddleboard back to your car, you are a part of this cause. Now with a smart phone, a couple of taps, and less than 5 seconds you can take it a step further and upload the info to the cloud.

Cali Paddler Beach Cleanup

I downloaded the Litterati app at the beach the other day to try it out on my iPhone. I immediately found a piece of trash (sadly) and started about the process.

  1. Take picture.
  2. Select from an ever growing list of hashtags for the product found (or write in my own).
  3. Upload.

Litterati App used by Cali Paddler

Pretty easy. I was so blown away, I almost forgot to pick up the plastic yogurt cup (but don't worry, I did). On my way to the trash, I suddenly realized there was A LOT more on the ground. So, using the app, I snapped a picture of each one in succession as I picked them up. The app stored each one for me. After I dumped them in the trash, I simply went to the app, and clicked each new picture, tagged em, and then hit "Upload all" to send to the Litterati cloud. Each picture had metadata of location, time and company/brand/type. 182,501 pieces of trash have been photographed, tagged and disposed at the time of this writing. In fact, they tagged over 1000 pieces in a single day this past weekend! Well done folks!

In talking with Jeff, the sky is the limit on future collaborations with groups like ours to help make a positive difference. I explained to him how paddlers are some of the most positive people we know, and we are always inspired by how proactive paddlers are in caring for beaches and waterways. Jeff shared that his inspiration came from his four year old daughter. On a nature walk with her in the Oakland hills, she spotted a piece of trash along what was otherwise the most pristine path imaginable. She was disturbed by it and confused, as it was so out of place. Jeff took a picture of it to upload to Instagram. Showcasing the disheartening juxtaposition of beauty and trash. She then she had her first lesson of stewardship as she proudly helped her dad carry it back to the car, beaming with pride. From there, for Jeff, inspiration became action. Action became inspiration, and the result is Litterati. And we are so excited for Cali Paddlers to join the movement on your next beach cleanup or when you return from a paddle with your various trash items you retrieved.

To learn more visit:

 Cali Paddler Beach Cleanup

Special thank you to Brent Allen (http://brentallenoutside.com) for putting us in contact with Litterati. Brent is an amazing steward of our waterways, and someone we consider....EPIC.


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