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Community Science Trash Monitoring with Litterati

You can find some great places in the Los Angeles River watershed to explore the wild side of Los Angeles, like the ones that we pointed out in our last Summer Science Friday post about our wild watershed. But there's no doubt you’ll spot an unwelcome guest along the way: litter! Our scientists regularly come across cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, and other trash while monitoring swim and kayak sites in the watershed. Trash is both an eyesore and causes harm to the rivers and streams of our watershed ecosystem.

Plastic water bottles at Hermit Falls in the Angeles National Forest. Photo by Ari Jong, Staff Scientist.

To document and combat unwanted trash in our LA River watershed, our scientists use Litterati, an app used to help tackle the problem of littering and to promote environmental conservation. Use the app to take and upload photos of the litter you find, and then throw away or recycle it! Your photo is geotagged, which means it has the location of where you took it. The photo is then added to a global map of trash that any watershed steward can contribute to and help raise awareness around trash issues. If you already have Instagram and don’t want to add yet another app to your phone or tablet, just give your Instagram post the #Litterati hashtag and it will be added to the Litterati map.

You can also add hashtags with the type of material the trash is made of, #plastic for example, and its brand. These tags help identify locations with large concentrations of trash surrounding them, as well as identify the type of trash present. Figuring out the most commonly photographed items in an area can be a useful way for communities to use this data to identify possible litter sources and talk to their neighborhood partners about options for reducing the waste together. Apps like Litterati allow you to document trash observations and put them at the center of discussions about local trash issues, drawing attention to the problem instead of getting used to litter as a normal part of our environment and everyday lives. Litterati also includes rewards for engaged users—so the next time you're out exploring the watershed, don't forget your camera! Once you’ve snapped a picture of the litter, upload it with the hashtags #CWHWatershedWatch and #DontBeTrashy to add your photo to CWH's community science trash monitoring effort!

Water you waiting for? Get out there and #EraseWatershedWaste!

Example of how to use Litterati on Instagram.

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