The Japanese iPhone app that’s taking out trash one photo at a time



Pirika is a smartphone app that encourages you to clean up your environment. The concept involves sharing a picture of what you cleaned up, so that other users can cheer you on, and keep your motivation high to clean up more. The startup recently announced that the total amount of pictures posted to the service now exceeds 100,000 (as of January).

Pirika was originally launched in May of 2011 by Kyoto University graduate Fujio Kojima (CEO) and his friend Ryota Ayaki (CTO). They were inspired by environmental preservation activities that leveraged the community, like UC Berkley’s NGO, the Watershed Project; or Japan’s Sports Gomi-Hiroi (scavenger hunting) Association. They developed the app in order to help make the world a cleaner place by adding an element of gamification to cleaning activities.

pirika_screenshot2 pirika_screenshot

The startup is analyzing the information collected through the app (i.e. what users have picked up on the streets) and that information is passed on to public sanitation authorities so that they might improving their services. The Pirika founders believe their service could even be monetized via corporate sponsorship from companies interested in improving their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Currently the app is available in English, Japanese, and traditional Chinese for both iOS and Android. The startup has not disclosed how many users they’ve acquired, but they’ve got ‘scavenging postings’ from 62 countries all around the world. The app was named after a word in the Ainu language word (etupirka) given to the tufted puffin, a bird known for grooming often and keeping clean at at all times.

From right: CEO Fujio Kojima and CTO Ryota
From right: Fujio Kojima (CEO) and Ryota Ayaki (CTO)