Community Spotlight : Life of Trash


It’s no big secret that we love hearing about all the cool projects the CartoDB community is working on, so when we learned about Life of Trash, a project by Nicholas Johnson we just had to share it.

Starting this evening, Dec 18th 2012, Nicholas will do a pilot run of his app by dropping a mobile phone into the trash and then dynamically follow its path from the bin to the landfill, the data will be presented live using CartoDB, and you can watch it tonight on the Life of Trash site.

What’s interesting about this specifically is that you never really think about what happens to your garbage after you throw it out, and Nicholas seeks to find out.

“There is a taboo in talking about trash. Once we place trash into a trash can, we never have to think about it anymore. However, the life of trash does not end with the trash can. What happens to trash after it gets picked up? How can an individual understand the path trash takes after it reaches the trash can? Is it possible to follow the path of trash after we throw it away? Life of Trash attempts to map the path of everyday trash by using cellular technology to gather and relay location data from the time trash is collected until it reaches its final resting place. This location data is streamed into a live map which allows the user to see realtime information on the current location of their trash. By providing a live map of trash in motion, perhaps we can begin to answer the question, where does our trash go?” - Nicholas Johnson


Best of all he’s putting together a mobile application that will enable others to track the life of trash or recycling. By running the app on a mobile phone and then releasing it into the wild, “Life of Trash” will dynamically update the location of your trash and or recycling.

The experiment starts these evening and you can track the whole thing over at his site.

And of course if you yourself have a cool CartoDB project you’re working on we’d love to hear from you, simply write us at

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