Today’s TED talk is by Jeff Kirschner and is called “This app makes it fun to pick up litter.” In his six minute talk to the people of New York, he describes a journey he went on in creating an app to help keep the planet clean.



crowdsource – verb – obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet


Litter is a topic that can come up in the IELTS exam, particularly in the writing task 2. It is part of the wider topic of environmentalism, but also society.

Here is a sample question:

Littering in cities is an increasing problem which needs to be dealt with. Some people think that imposing steeper fines is the best way to deal with the problem.

To what extent do you agree?

Sample Answer

In cities all around the world, litter is a growing problem. People are dropping items like plastic bags and bottles in the street, and these are causing environmental degradation. In this essay, I will explain why fining people for dropping litter could potentially be an effective means of deterring people from littering; however, it is not necessarily the best way.

In most places, littering is already illegal, even though punishments are usually not enforced. If fines were significant enough and commonly distributed, it seems likely that people would obey them. However, at present it is not taken seriously as a crime by either citizens or law-enforcement. In theory, fines for littering should be enough to stop people dropping their trash on the ground, but the problem is that most police officers simply don’t care. This system needs to be reformed in order to prove effective.

Instead, to protect the environment, governments should put more effort into educating people. This can be done at school or even through social programmes targeting adults. There is an app that encourages people to pick up litter, but which also collects data in order to educate people and inform governments where the biggest trash problems are. This sort of revolutionary idea could be effective in reducing the litter problem.

In conclusion, issuing fines to people for dropping litter is probably not the best way of dealing with the situation, but it could be effective. It should probably be combined with other means in order to have a serious impact on this environment problem.