One rarely sees do not litter signs in Toronto. So I made an inquiry while standing at the counter being served.
They put it there because of the dreadful mess they’d find themselves in at the end of each day. Papers, coffee cups, lunch bags, wrappers, containers, some still containing leftover food.
“Even when there’s a can right there,” the woman said, gesturing to the corner, no more than ten steps away from any point in the shoe box of a room.
I asked whether having the sign removed the problem? No it did not, I was told, but it helped reduce the amount of mess.
A couple of observations: The garbage bin could be more attractive. According to Claudia Marsales, who directs the solid waste program in Markham, Ontario, garbage bins need to be “sexy.” The more appealing the container, the more apt a litterer will be to walk over to it.
Signage needs to be vivid and unmistakable. The more reminders, the more peer involvement, the more success will follow.
Clear instructions and stated expectations work. Customers at the licensing office can be told what to do nicely and they will comply, especially when they’re in a position of needing something like a plate renewal sticker.
Would it be too drastic to make litter prevention the policy in government offices, indeed introduce it to all workplaces? What do you think?