Should litter be suspended ?

I find myself returning to a well-trodden path this month – that of litter thrown out of vehicles onto the verge. Working out how to discourage people from littering while they are driving is one the most challenging of all the litter issues. It may even be the most difficult one of all to solve.

So when a new and creative response to littering from vehicles appears, l think that we should all take notice.

The case in question comes from Aiken County in South Carolina and involved an unknown local resident bagging up the litter chucked out onto the verge and hanging it from the roadside trees. It created a remarkable sight – do click on this link to see the photo. The suspended litter was accompanied by a sign that read “Stop throwing out trash”.

I think that this was a great idea, but before we all get out there and start hanging litter from trees on the verge, I have a few suggestions.

First, the plastic bags in which the litter was hung will split and shed their contents if left there for too long. So I suggest that a week or two is plenty long enough to leave the display in situ. Longer than that and the bags will start to burst open and you’ll have to start picking it all up again.

Second, I would personally advocate using a more humorous sign that wasn’t so confrontational to the litterers and that, perhaps, made them smile and actually succeeded in bringing them onside. How about something along the lines of “the litter you chucked is still hanging around”. Can any of you come up with some better suggestions ?

Finally, and linked to my first point, hanging litter from trees may be construed by some local authorities as itself littering. I would hope that they would see the creative value and the potential for changing people’s behaviour in the idea, but be prepared to convince council officers that leaving the litter hanging for a couple of weeks won’t do any harm and that you’ll remove it after that.

Do please let me know if you try this out and what the result was !

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