E-deliver Digital Trash To The Source – Could There Be An App For That?

Litter is a problem of our throwaway culture and other negative societal forces. While it is obvious that litterers are partially responsible for polluting our communities and natural spaces, there are likely some natural instincts that are kicking in and overcoming them need resources, particularly in the realms of education, infrastructure, and community empowerment.

Beer bottles, soda cans, water bottles and other litter.
Beer bottles, soda cans, water bottles and other litter collected on a long dog walk.

On the other side of the equation though are the companies that create the cans, bottles, etc. that are thrown away in the first place and that fight efforts to implement policies that would be successful at reducing litter such as bottle deposits, extended producer responsibility (EPR), and single-use bans. Of course Coca-Cola, Dasani, Budweiser, etc. do not have to experience the harms to the community in terms of chemical leaching,  harm to animals, destruction of natural beauty, and even personal physical harms (e.g., from broken glass).

Imagine now if all of these materials could be easily returned to their creators.  Obviously EPR is designed to impose responsibility for the creators of waste, but the companies that don’t want to take responsibility fight such legislation tooth and nail.  Of course we could also rent a hop in a postal van like Kramer and Newman and drive those materials to Michigan (note it is illegal for you to do this, please don’t do that) or better yet return the bottles and cans directly to the companies that produce them.  Could you imagine that every Coke can got returned to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta? If CEO James Quincy had to personally deal with the trash his company produces, they would be calling every Member of Congress asking for EPR (of course if you did drop off a bunch of Coke cans at their headquarters, they would probably have you arrested for littering).  Note that it probably is just fine to pick on Coca-Cola specifically: https://theintercept.com/2019/10/23/coca-cola-plastic-waste-pollution/.

Coca Cola HQ With Aluminum Can Piles
Coca Cola HQ (credit Hector Alejandro) and Aluminum Cans (credit Joe Loong)

But what if someone were to create the next best thing, an app for that. The concept is simple, instead of physically delivering the litter a picture of the litter is what is being delivered and of instead the litter being delivered to a company’s headquarters it gets directly delivered into their Twitter mentions and Instagram tags.  This, of course, is something you can do already as you can see from my twitter feed.  However, to make the barrier to entry easier the next step would be to make the connections automagically so snapping the picture uses image detection to find the brand and the social media handles for the company and then auto generates the text for your tweet and/or gram.  Another benefit of this approach is that it could allow for specific language on the ask for a campaign.

I personally would have loved to make this idea happen, but my coding skills are old, and while I know it is quite possible for this type of work to be done, how to do it might be above my skill level.  I hope this post finds its way to a coder in search of a good idea for how more effectively draw attention to the litter our planet faces.

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