Kirschner's hoping to use the app's findings to help brands and local governments craft a safer, healthier planet. "Each city has a litter fingerprint," he says. As an example, he describes a block in Oakland that is littered with Taco Bell hot sauce packets—most of them unopened. Now, he has data to share with Taco Bell about what exactly is on the ground in this neighborhood, which could in turn affect their business strategy.
"Not only are these packets creating an environmental hazard, but for every one, you're losing money. Even if it's 2 cents a pack, if you scale up 200 packs per block over the course of a year, across the hundreds of stores they have around the world—now you're talkin' about some real numbers," he says excitedly. "So how do you take that data and work with a brand to transform an environmental hazard into an economic engine?"
Intertwining activism and data can prove helpful in any community, and he's seen everyone from schoolteachers in Shanghai to scuba divers off the coast of Maldives collect information on all types of debris in urban, rural, and marine environments. "For us, it's whatever floats your boat. Please, you're welcome to be part of this community because individually you can make a difference, and together we do make an impact."
Ready for another ingenious approach to trash? This man WORE all the trash he created for a month to send a message about our consumption habits.