I have some pointed views on what governments could do to help prevent litter.
They are not particularly drastic ideas. In fact, they fit quite well with public programs that are already up and running.
Applying for a driver’s license, for example. Here’s a perfect place to include litter prevention education and compliance as a condition of using a motor vehicle, the same as any other road rule. Ditto for boating, fishing, camping permits and the like.
Litter prevention education ought to be included in the preparatory course for new citizens. Municipal parks and facility permits should require users to clean up after their events or risk losing a "maintenance deposit."
Littering laws need to be upheld and enforced. I like what they’re doing in Shimla, India: employing litter warden armed with whistles to whistle down litterers and ticket them if they can’t be shamed into putting their litter in the right bin. (See the full story at Prevent Litter/Newsreel).
I propose a litter prevention school for anyone convicted of littering, running along the lines of the groundbreaking “john school” that was brought in for the procurers of prostitutes. In that system, the convicted john attends a one-day educational session at his expense to learn the folly of his ways. So, for convicted litterers I say, march them off to litter school and make them pay $500 to learn why they must never litter again.
The accumulation of fees and fines would sustain the operation of the school and then some. I have no idea what it costs to run a dedicated litter court, but no doubt a concerted attack on littering would reap more than enough dollars to implement such a system.
I don’t think these are radical ideas, but you tell me. Send me your comments.
Is it totally off the wall to expect governments to do more than hand out plastic garbage bags to volunteers and encourage them to go clean up other people’s messes?