Philly is an easy target for dirty jokes (not those dirty jokes) because in some areas the trash seems endless. How did things get this bad? One view of it is the broken window theory. Suppose there’s an abandoned warehouse and someone walks up, grabs a rock, breaks a window, and they leave. Later on, someone else does the same thing because just one window (of many) was broken. So what’s two? This goes on until every window is broken. People are more likely to litter in a place that’s already dirty. On the other hand, we are less likely to clean a public space if no one else is cleaning it (see: social proof). It’s something that people really have to be proactive about.
The Unlitter Us campaign aims to reverse the damage by using the same principles that created it. People will clean if they see others are cleaning. If one street can be cleaned two streets can be cleaned– perhaps even an entire neighborhood. The effort is funded by the Philadelphia Streets Department. Its site has further information about the campaign including Philly’s Annual Spring Clean Up (yesterday). There are a number of print ads downtown at the major transit hubs. The TV spots are an interesting mix of spoken word over jazz chords and saxophone.
Even as I typed this post I saw a new spot for the campaign. This one featured Mayor Nutter urging people to help out on Earth Day (April 22nd this year).
This image is on par with many of the creative works I’ve seen since “going green” got started. There are so many possibilities.