as part of national cleanup day On Saturday, in today’s edition of the MI Environment, we’ll be talking to Bryan Grochowski. Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Hazardous Waste Inspectorranked among the top 25 in the world on Litterati for their passion for picking up litter. Create a trash-free world and record all trash picked up by users.
How long has it been since you picked up trash?
I think most people in my community pick up trash if it’s near their homes or walking paths. About 3-4 years ago, I started using the Litterati app to track the type and location of litter, which led me to picking up more litter.
EGLE staffer Brian Grochowski picks up trash in the shadows of the Capitol.
How has the app helped you in your efforts?
Personally, I’m very competitive, so I started collecting trash. And I wanted to see if I could break my highest rank record for the day. If you’re only two pieces away from making the Best 50, you might go out of your way to collect two more pieces.
Litterati also has some tools you can use. Take a picture of each piece you collect and it will automatically map anywhere on the planet. You can track location patterns, types of trash such as “plastic cups,” and even companies that produced products such as “Coca-Cola” and “Taco Bell.” If there are patterns in certain products, such as straws or plastic products, you can consider identifying and reducing sources of waste. One school stopped handing out straws with each order, reducing waste by 40%. Also, a fast food restaurant stopped automatically handing out packages of sauce to everyone.
Did you aim to be among the top 25 in the world?
My goals were mostly daily goals. We aimed to be Top 5 or No. 1 in a few days.
This app shows the totals collected in the last 24 hours and the global ranking. For me, as a competitive person, it’s an encouragement to pick up more. Over time, I realized that I could collect 100-300 small pieces of plastic from public parks and beaches. If you walk the beach for a day and collect 4 hours, you will get close to 400 pieces. My record is about 1,200 per day. For a few days in 2019 and 2020, it managed to be number one.
What happens when you pick up trash? what have you experienced?
It has so many advantages. You exercise by walking and crouching (laughs). When I leave the area in a clean state, I am happy that I am contributing to the community and the environment. Encourage others to clean up too. It’s like a clean countertop compared to a countertop with lots of trash. Trash on a countertop full of junk fits right in. But on a clean tabletop, the trash looks out of place. So if you drop something on a clean surface, you are more likely to pick it up. But that may not be the case when there is trash everywhere.
How would you encourage others to pick up litter?
For environmental and human health reasons, we encourage everyone to collect garbage. In particular, plastic waste will never really disappear. Unfortunately, if left unattended, it often breaks up into small pieces that affect lakes, rivers, soil, wildlife, and even the air we breathe and the water we drink. Picking up things like bottle caps and plastic shards as you pass by while walking down the sidewalk or even in the parking lot of your local grocery store makes a difference. Sometimes you find 1 point, sometimes 5 or 10 points. If you multiply the number of people he picks up 1-2 pieces of litter a day by his 10 million people in Michigan, you get 10-20 million less pieces of litter every day.