Anything that is not discarded or disposed properly is considered litter. These are often items discarded on the ground. Litter is detrimental to the environment and in turn to people and animals. Virtually any nation of the world has a litter problem somewhere. Most people have gotten so used to littering; they deem it normal. Often time people litter because in their minds they say, ‘someone will deal with it’. In the US alone, over US$11 billion is spent annually getting rid of litter. Let us discuss some creative ways to stop littering.
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1. Intensifying The Use Of Reusable Products Or Packaging Material
The idea behind this is to reduce potential litter in the first place. Most of the time littering is fuelled by single use items. For instance, plastic bags, cans and plastic bottles are littered a lot. Why not make them reusable? By making them reusable it causes people to keep them for later use. Recyclability is also another area that needs to be enhanced here.
Reusability can be encouraged by using stronger materials and using alluring branding. If a product is well branded and strong, people tend to find it hard to throw it away. For instance, instead of throwing away a juice bottle, someone can end up using it on a regular basis for juice or water. Businesses, especially in the food industry need to invest more in making reusable products or packaging material.
2. Gamifying Proper Waste Disposal
There is a whole universe of possibilities when it comes to gamification of worthy causes. For example, in a particular city in Switzerland, they created maze games around public garbage cans. The mazes are such that the path ends up at the garbage can. This draws attention to the garbage cans thus conditioning people to not litter. In other instances, instead of mazes it is other forms of common but fun games.
There is also another strategy in London, where there are information boards that are activated by putting gum on them. For example, the board can display a question regarding an interesting detail. It then asks you to stick gum onto a side board to reveal the answer. In the process, gum ends up being discarded properly. These are just two examples of how gamification can be used to stop littering.
3. Encouraging The Use Of Litter Bags In Vehicles
One of the biggest culprits behind littering is people in vehicles. It is easy for someone in a vehicle to just throw something out of their windows. This can also be an issue with buses, trains, and so on. In order to curb this, there should be measures to encourage using litter bags. For private vehicles, resources can be mobilized to distribute litter bags.
Businesses or organizations can even come in to donate branded litter bags. Public service transport operators can also instruct their staff to have litter bags on-board. Then they will raise awareness for those on-board to know there are litter bags they can use. Litter bags can go a long way in stop littering from vehicles.
4. Having Garbage Cans All Over (To Make It Easy)
One of the contributing factors to littering is how sparse garbage cans tend to be. Usually when someone has something they want to throw away, if there is no garbage can in sight littering becomes imminent. It helps if on average, at any point and anywhere, there is a garbage can in sight. Not just in sight but also close enough. These should also be garbage cans that are regularly cleared and cleaned. If the garbage cans are always full, littering again becomes imminent.
Ensuring all these things requires a collective effort. Be it residential areas, industrial, or commercial areas, there should be garbage cans all over. Of particular interest are food outlets or stores in general. The simple act of them setting up garbage cans in front and around their vicinity is vital. This all weighs on someone’s psyche to feel guilty about littering and do the needful.
5. Interactive Signage To Encourage And Warn Against Littering
There are many people who are inspired to do things out of fear. If there is no threat of getting into trouble they do things anyhow. That applies to any delinquent behavior e.g. littering. Putting signage all around public spaces helps program people’s subconscious minds. If someone is constantly bombarded with such signs, they end up loathing littering. Technology should be leveraged on to make the signs alluring and engaging.
They should not just be dry and static. Bear in mind that signage works best if there are immediate proper means to discard waste. For instance, having garbage cans strewn all over is complemented by signage. This can all be further cemented by having actual enforcement mechanisms or personnel. This means if someone is found littering they should be punished accordingly.
6. Incentivizing Proper Waste Disposal
This can be done in many several ways. For example, returning recyclable waste to its original source can be paid for. As in, someone can be paid or gain redeemable points for returning recyclable waste. It can be to a retailer, a wholesaler, or a manufacturer. Alternatively a framework of discounts or refunds can be instituted for returning waste. This will be so that it is properly discarded or recycled.
7. Fun And Interactive Awareness Campaigns
At times all it takes is conscientizing people about the dangers of littering. You can do this through concerts, road shows, clean-up campaigns, and the like. Incorporate competitions and giveaways. It can be strategic to do this as often as possible. That way it will always be fresh in people’s minds that littering is not good. Such campaigns are best done collaboratively. This entails local authorities, businesses, and civic organizations, amongst others. By pooling resources together the awareness campaigns can be more effective.
These 7 creative ways can prime people to stop littering. The overall idea is to make it engaging and interactive. If people stop littering there are lots of economic benefits.