Public Shaming: New Campaign Uses DNA to Recreate the Faces of Litterbugs

Posted On Fri, May 1, 2015 By

Posted On Fri, May 1, 2015 By In City Living, ideas from abroad, Technology

We’ve all seen those folks who callously toss their garbage into the street when there’s a trashcan just ten steps away. While most of us usually remain hush and pick up the slack, there’s a group out there that’s fed up with litter and they most certainly aren’t afraid to point fingers. As part of a campaign developed by Ogilvy to help clean the streets of Hong Kong, activists including Hong Kong CleanupEcozine, and The Nature Conservancy joined forces to give a face—or literally, faces—to the problem plaguing cities worldwide.

face of litter

The group collected samples of DNA from trash found all over the streets—ranging from coffee cups to cigarette butts—and using using Snapshot DNA phenotyping and the help of U.S.-based genome research centers, they were able to reconstruct the faces of the people who, in addition to rubbish, left their genetic material behind. The DNA data was then applied to other factors, such as the demographics of the area where the litter was picked up and what the litter was, to figure out the age of the culprits for an even more accurate image.

The posters were hung everywhere from subway stations to bus shelters and released on social media and in print for the ultimate cautionary tale: Don’t litter or your face could be the next face of this campaign.

In a city obsessed with image, we can most certainly see this working in New York!

nyc trash

VIDEO:

[Via Ecozine]

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