They Tried To Gamify Litter Picking

I have always said that if recycling was a gold mine everyone would be doing it. And that’s part of our problem with wanting to save the planet, we need to incentivise some of the requirements to make it attractive.

Not so long ago, over on my business blog, I wrote about the problems with COP26 and how the conversations go round and round in circles but nothing ever really happens. It’s not something that has escaped most observers. During the course of my research, I came across an app called LitterLotto. And I’ve been testing it out.

Whilst LitterLotto isn’t new, it’s only recently been made available in the UK and it’s been gaining traction in the news over the last couple of months. Quite simply, they have found a way to monetise picking up litter. Join the app, and every time you pick up a piece of rubbish and put it in a bin when you are out and about, you submit the evidence via your smartphone, and get entered into a lottery draw where you can win up to £10,000. They also have on the spot prizes of between £5 and £250.

Now, it’s not quite like getting paid to pick up litter, but it’s probably still a better cert than playing the National Lottery, and you don’t have to pay to enter either. It was enough to convince me to give it a go, even though I already pick up some litter when I am out and about. On my first trip out after I downloaded the app I collected 46 pieces of litter in a 5 km walk when I was out doing errands. Taking the pictures is a teensy bit of hassle, but only if you’re in a rush. It also depends on how many bins you come across on your travels. I’ve opted to start taking my collections home and putting them in my wheelie bins, because where I live I can easily end up collecting 100 pieces in a half hour walk.

You do have to pick up a lot of litter to make money, so don’t be under any illusion that this is easy money. That said, it is a lottery. I’ve collected over 1000 pieces now and only made £15 in on the spot prizes, but the recent jackpot winner made £500 collecting 423 pieces. That said, I’ve never been lucky in competitions.

If nothing else, I’ve gained a lot of entries into the monthly prize draws and there is less rubbish blowing around my local streets. So where does the lottery get its money from? I don’t know exactly, but it’s a global initiative, so I suppose it depends on where you are. It is funded by brands and here in the UK, the support is coming from McDonald’s – responsible for much of the rubbish problem in the first place. I suppose it makes them feel better about their contribution to the rubbish mountain.

I found this Youtube video on the LitterLotto website. It feels like virtue signalling/greenwashing and of course, no fast food company is going to do this. Beyond this, I can’t see McDonalds doing much, other than blaming its own customers for the problem rather than looking at the way it packages and dispenses its food. I mean, the packaging is still in the system whether it’s going into the bin or onto the street. It’s still accumulative.

I suppose it helps to give them a clear conscience, though judging by the sort of litter I’ve been picking up, some other leading companies need to get behind this idea.

What the odds are on making anything out of this, I’m not sure. I will let you know how I get on. I have heard murmurings of prizes not being paid out, and on the spot draws being withdrawn because the user was accused of cheating. I’ve had three £5 wins in my pot for over a month now, and I’ve still not been able to gt my hands on the money, so I am suspicious that some users are being swindled. Sadly, this has made me less enthusiastic, and I’ve stopped doing my litter walks until I get my payouts. Currently Litterlotto are looking into why I haven’t had my payouts and I understand there are some glitches in the app. We’ll see.

It’s in their interests to make it worth people’s time, otherwise users are just going to stop picking up litter and that really is the point of it. I think, in principle, it’s a good idea, but I don’t know if it’s getting enough funding for them to be able to pay winners. I would love to be paid to pick up litter. Long gone are the days when we had an army of litter picker. Now we are wallowing in Gregg’s wrappers, Red Bull cans and dog poo bags, and it’s just depressing.

So I hope this proves to be a success, and they iron out the ‘glitches’. Even a tenner here and there would be a bonus for me. I need the income.

***An update: I have now had my instant win prizes, so it seems the glitches in the works are surmountable. I also had an update email from the site to say that they were making changes to the app shortly, so hopefully they are working on the problems in the system. I will be litter picking again!***

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