It’s not always easy to get people to act in a responsible way. We can cajole, threaten, use logic, emotion, get mad, but it doesn’t seem to work. People are hard to motivate – even when it is in their own best interest. For example, consider litter and trash. Even when it’s easy to dispose of litter, some people still seem to not keep it clean. Garbage gets thrown on the ground, not into cans.
But Malmo, a city in Sweden, has come up with a novel way to encourage people to clean up trash. It incentivizes folks to use the trash can by, well, talking a little bit dirty in a suggestive, female seductive voice.
Yes, you heard that right. By having a trash can talk dirty, people deposit more trash. What type of dirty talk and encouragement? “Oh, right there. Yes!” or let’s try “Come back soon and we’ll do it again!”
It’s a little more for adults, but it appears to be effective. The campaign gets people talking about littering in a fun way.
The city originally had 18 talking trash cans in 2017, but has only two now placed on a busy pedestrian bridge. Put trash in the can. Get positive reinforcement immediately! During the pandemic, the trash cans thanked people for social distancing. Now the cans have been repurposed to reduce trash. What else could they do?
One question though: where are the sexy talking male trash cans?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the use of public service announcements to influence behavior.
- Poll students: What types of public behavior would they like to see modified?
- Show a clip of the trash cans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq-1HXmRgwE
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a public service campaign.
- Have students develop an interactive way to influence people’s behavior about their public service campaign.
- What should it look like? Sound like? Accomplish?
Sources: Bantock, J. (10 June 2022). Sexy trash cans? This Swedish city is taking a risqué approach to garbage. CNN Travel.