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Alameda Community Learning Center Digs Into Earth Day

Inspired by the “Litterati” movement, ACLC learners pick-up trash around their school on Earth Day. (Lynn Kameny)

Inspired by the “Litterati” movement, ACLC learners pick-up trash around their school on Earth Day. (Lynn Kameny)

By Bara Waters

Sometimes a trashy photo and a clever hashtag are all that’s needed to start a global movement. Inspired by his daughter’s concern for the environment, Oakland resident Jeff Kirschner started a clean-up campaign by taking photos of trash he picked up in his neighborhood and posting them on Instagram with the hashtag “#litterati” along with a geo-tag showing the litter’s location.

Soon other litter picker-uppers joined the effort by posting images of their geo-tagged trash using #litterati, and the Litterati movement went viral. Kirschner followed-up by launching “The Digital Landfill” website to showcase the #litterati Instagram feed, along with a Google map displaying the geo-tagged and time-stamped images of litter picked up around the world.

The Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) was fortunate to have Kirschner as the keynote speaker at their first ever school-wide Earth Day Celebration, held on April 22. Kirschner’s talk about the Litterati movement and other earth-friendly activities were the focus of the daylong celebration to create greater environmental awareness at the school.

“Jeff showed us how easy it is to make our world a better place,” said ACLC sophomore, Avalon Cassard. “He explained that Litterati not only inspires people to pick up trash, but that they use the geo-tags to help cities put trash and recycling containers where the most litter is found. The photos of trash with brand names also encourage those companies to be more environmentally aware. It’s cool that something so simple can make such a big difference!”

Besides Kirschner’s keynote presentation, ACLC’s Earth Day event featured a variety of environmental educational sessions run by other guest environmental experts, students in ACLC’s Environmental Leadership class and ACLC facilitators (teachers). Sessions included: making pillows out of recycled fabrics, making glassware out of recycled glass bottles, making chair mats out of recycled T-shirts, planting trees and other foliage around the school, and how to use solar and other alternative sources of energy. The day wrapped up with small group sessions to exchange ideas on how to be more environmentally conscious at home.

The Earth Day event was planned and run by ACLC’s Environmental Leadership class consisting of seniors, Michelle Cossette, Michelle Luo, Taylor Tran, Chloe Feng, and junior, Kasilena Gonzales, and facilitated by ACLC teacher, Patricia Williamson.

“We wanted to make the environmental message real to our fellow learners,” said Michelle Cossette. “That’s why we planned hands-on activities they’d have fun making, be able to take home and use, or give as gifts. Each time they see or use the item they made from recycled materials, they’ll be reminded to take care of the earth.”

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