‘Captain Planet’ up for award
Since April this year, Palmerston North’s Tom ‘‘Captain Planet’’ Carr has picked up 5000 pieces of litter.
When finalists for the annual Beautiful Awards run by Keep New Zealand Beautiful were announced last week, Carr found himself in contention for the Tidy Kiwi Award.
‘‘Who would have thought a 10,000 step challenge would lead to a passion for picking up rubbish and a nomination for a Tidy Kiwi Award.’’
Fonterra was running the fitness challenge when Carr arrived in Palmerston North just over two years ago.
‘‘For the first time, I had the opportunity to walk to work, and when you start walking you start noticing the litter.
‘‘And being a packaging technologist, it’s sort of like penance.’’
How did Carr know he had picked up 5000 pieces of litter?
He downloaded an app called Litterati that enabled him to geotag and photograph every piece and load those details on to a global database.
‘‘[It] is harnessing social media to encourage people to pick up litter.
‘‘It’s easy to use, and provides all this data.
‘‘As a scientist, you can’t solve a problem until you have data.’’
The resulting map, which in real time ranks New Zealand eighth in the world for litterbusting activity, shows Palmerston North as the most prominent litter picking place in New Zealand.
That’s most likely due to Carr’s single-minded two-year crusade against roadside rubbish.
Zoom in on Summerhill Dr, and there is an impressive trail of red dots lining both sides of the road – one for each item Carr has picked up and tagged since downloading the Litterati app.
‘‘Most of it is just incidental dropping stuff – wraps from snack bars and chip packs, convenience food and cigarette butts – small items that people have no problem dumping.’’
A Keep NZ Beautiful volunteer of the month award in November 2016 earned Carr his Tidy Kiwi nomination.
Since then, he had introduced the Litterati app to the organisation, which was looking at ways of using it to promote a tidier, cleaner New Zealand.
The awards, which include Feilding’s bid to be New Zealand’s most beautiful large town for the 16th time, are at Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay on Friday, October 13.
‘‘Being nominated is just awesome,’’ Carr said.
Tom Carr picks up rubbish as he walks to work along Summerhill Drive.