I was on my way home this evening when I noticed a can I had been meaning to pick up had been joined by a second. Whether left by the same person in the same place as part of a normal routine, or an example of how litter attracts litter, the result was the same: a pile of rubbish was starting to form.
As always, one word went through my mind. No, not a four-letter expletive, but “Why?” Why the lack of respect for the community one presumably lives in and the environment we all inhabit? Why the disregard for the standards of social behaviour and sanitation? In essence: Why do you litter?
This then made me wish I could leave a note for the litterer, which then sparked the thought: could a poster and billboard campaign in heavily littered areas asking this very question be an effective intervention to reduce rubbish?
Would it make some people mentally answer “I don’t litter!”, reinforcing the correct behaviour? And would it make those who do litter question their own actions?
Or would there be unintended consequences? More litter, or defaced and vandalised posters? Would being accused of littering make people more likely, not less, to do so?
I don’t know the answer. But here’s another “why”: Why don’t we at least try something different to tackle this problem at its source?