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Data company One is cleaning up Belle Isle for Earth Day

Belle Isle, the gem of Richmond’s James River, is a perfect spot for great city views and outdoor fun, but you might also find a lot of trash after a sunny day.

In honor of Earth Day, Richmond-based technology company Data Company One partnered with the James River Association to organize a community cleanup to help beautify the city’s riverfront.







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Justin Showalter scans a can his wife Stephanie is holding during a cleanup in Belle Isle on Earth Day on Sunday.


NICHOLAS GALINDO, TIME SHIPPING


Through the use of data and AI, Data Company One’s mission is to improve recycling and reduce litter in the city. The app, LitterX, available on Android and Apple, aims to help users better understand the waste they collect and the impact they have on the environment, and contribute to global sustainability efforts.

“It’s not just about collecting waste, they actually want to know something about the island. It helps them for investment and security. They can identify where waste is located and what type it is. It will also help them realize what they need to do,” said Thomas Grinnan, Chief Commercial Officer of Data Company One.

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On Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon, about 20 volunteers spread out across Belle Isle’s 54 acres with grabbers and trash bags, picking up litter, mostly beer cans.


NICHOLAS GALINDO, TIME SHIPPING


The LitterX app uses barcode recognition and AI to correctly identify the type of litter and collect data such as carbon footprint, carbon offset, geolocation, material and material weight. This collected data helps raise awareness and prevent future littering. The app allows users to view their stats after each scan, which provides incentives and makes picking up litter a fun activity.

From 9 a.m. to noon, about 20 volunteers spread out across the island’s 54 hectares with grabs and garbage bags, picking up litter, mostly beer cans.

Alyssa Melone came prepared with her own trash grabber that she originally purchased to pick up items at the beach. Melone volunteered to earn credit toward her basic training to become a Virginia Master Naturalist through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. She says LitterX is both fast and easy to use.







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Alyssa Melone picks up a piece of trash on the shores of Belle Isle on Sunday during an Earth Day cleanup on the island. Richmond-based tech company Data Company One is deploying its new app, LitterX, to improve recycling and waste cleanup in the city.


NICOLAS GALINDO photos, TIMES DISPATCH


“I just enjoy nature,” Melone said. “It makes me sad to see nature tampering with our waste or getting entangled in it. It’s a bummer, so I’m here to pick it up.

The data collected by LitterX allows groups to better understand litter patterns and devise a strategy to prevent it in the future. Thanks to groups like Data Company One, the city’s riverfront is cleaner.

“Belle Isle is located in the center of the park system; it connects the north, south, east and west. It is popular with tourists and locals. We try to make sure people understand that you can have nice things. Richmond has scarce resources so it is crucial that we volunteer and help keep it beautiful,” said Grinnan.