Locking Out Litter: Tips For Designing The Perfect Anti-Litter Signs For Your Community

Litter can be frustrating, whether it's in a local park or your own front yard. If you want to keep your local neighborhood litter-free, your first step may be a trip to the print shop. Certain signs, when placed in conspicuous areas, can actually help to reduce littering significantly.

People Behave Better When Watched

Studies show that most people will be more likely to follow the rules if they think they're being observed, even if it isn't necessarily another person watching them at the time. And an effective strategy is to utilize eyes in a few high-visibility posters. People are more likely to be honest and moral if they see another pair of eyes nearby, even if it's just a photo.

For example, diners in a restaurant were twice as likely to clean up their table if the signs telling them to do so had pictures of human faces on them, instead of pictures of flowers. Male eyes have been shown to work best, so a good anti-littering poster might include a stock photo of a smiling man along with its message about keeping trash under control. 

Whenever possible, add directions to the nearest trash receptacle on your anti-litter signs. Many people litter without thinking because they don't know what else to do with the trash. If you show them where to dispose of things properly, they're more likely to do so.

Target Smokers Specifically

Half of all litter is comprised solely of cigarette butts. Most smokers go through several of these each day, and it's easy to dispose of them by simply flicking them away onto the sidewalk or nearby grass. Throwing away lit butts is difficult as well, since they must be put into special receptacles. Some smokers normally won't bother to pick up a butt after stamping it out on the ground.

To combat these tendencies, both intentional and absentminded, you need to ensure that your community's anti-litter concerns are apparent to smokers. This can be accomplished by signs that mention the beauty of the area and feature images or mention of cigarette butts and the harmful chemicals they contain specifically. The camera or eyes technique can be used in these signs, but it's equally important to focus on the cigarettes, since some smokers may subconsciously not realize that flicking butts away is still littering.

Signs that mention local fines for littering should explicitly mention cigarette butts as well, to add a sense of consequence for careless smokers. Make sure receptacles in smoking areas have prominent signs to indicate their location, as well.

The Bigger The Sign, The Better

Small signs to address one area can be handled by one or two people, but a community-wide litter problem is best solved by a community-wide effort. Get involved with your local government to discuss investing in larger, more permanent anti-litter signage. Billboards and large banners are useful for alerting drivers who may not be able read smaller signs while their vehicles are in motion.

Temporary community banners can also be used to get the word out about volunteer cleanup initiatives, which will consequently see a greater turnout of helpers. Fundraising for more advertisement for anti-litter campaigns, recycling drives, or local cleanup competitions can, in turn, increase community involvement. This helps reduce the trash on the streets and get people to connect with their local environment, reducing the litter produced by residents of the area.

Your community can be beautiful, but it takes work to keep it that way. Talk with community leaders about posting anti-litter signs in public areas, and add a sign or two to your own property. Even if you don't have the resources for a community-wide push right now, a few signs will still make a difference. After all, you have to start small before you can have a great impact.

You can even enlist the help of street sweepers from companies like USA Services of Florida to help keep the streets clear.