‘Cap­tain Planet’ up for award

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Tom Carr picks up rub­bish as he walks to work along Sum­mer­hill Drive.

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