Plain-Clothes Litter Pickers for More Impact?

Reading an article about  music festival litter in Australia got us thinking about the power of social norms to influence littering.

The article, from Overland Magazine, discusses methods which harness the power of arts, culture and community to reduce litter at music festivals*. One thing which caught our eye was the idea of “hidden in plain sight” litter pickers to foster a sense of shared responsibility – non-uniformed people cleaning up litter.

KNSWB seeks to drive behaviour-change rather than simply cleaning up rubbish, but the action of cleaning up can have its own powerful influence.

Madeleine Radke, sustainability and waste management guru festivals for festivals including Rainbow Serpent, Earth Frequency and Woodford Folk Festival says “the aim is to encourage people to take personal responsibility for making sure that the atmosphere is happy and healthy for everyone…  This [plainclothes staff] is based on emphasising a shared identity between the patrons and those cleaning up.

“My least favourite waste management jobs are ones with uniforms – patrons assume that ‘someone else is getting paid’ to clean up, and therefore are willing to trash the joint.”

What do you think? Could replacing uniformed workers who clear up litter with plainclothes workers instead have a ripple effect on the wider community, and not just at music festivals?

You can read the full article on Overland’s website.

*the highlight example has to be the “Order of the Rubbish” – Green-robed people roaming festival campsites singing and chanting about keeping the campsite clean.


2 Responses to “Plain-Clothes Litter Pickers for More Impact?”

  1. May 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm, Paul said:

    How are we going to change the behavior of designers and manufacturers to end litter?

  2. May 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm, Steve Burgess said:

    Until there is a deposit reintroduced on all drink containers I believe the litter problem will be present. Back in the day when there was a deposit on drink bottles you did not see a bottle on the ground anywhere, as the kids would cash them in for pocket money.