Table of Contents

Aesthetic (Visual) Pollution

36. Littering Penalties & Collection Strategies

Littering should require a minimum punitive fine of $1,000. For litter items less than 1 centimeter in size in it’s longest dimension, the penalty should be $500. For litter items of unusual size or type or with a significant ‘yuck’ factor, like a wood plank or a pile of pet droppings, the penalty should be doubled to $2,000. For all littering violators, the estimated cost of cleaning up the litter should also be levied. Larger pieces of litter such as furniture, tires, or even bagged trash, etc, would require minimum fines of $$4,000 or higher depending on the actual volume and nature of the litter. Uncontained mounds of litter deposited by one person/party would be charged a fine for each item in that mound according the the schedule stated above. Accidental droppings or wind-blown escapes may be exempted or given a reduced penalty according to the specific circumstances of each case.

The littering of glass containers (perhaps limited to non-tempered glass?) should be subjected to a larger fine, such as double the normal amount, due to the public safety risks such broken glass poses, including the additional risk of flat tires for cars and bicycles. Perhaps catching and fining enough times the litterers of products which are not tempered (like some alcoholic bottles) will cause them to either migrate onto consuming products which do come in tempered bottles (in order to reduce potential fines) or to stop littering. Over time, perhaps consumer demand (for some products) will drive the makers of products to increase their use of tempered glass.

Putting the wrong kinds of trash into specific trash containers, especially putting garbage into yard-waste only containers, should also be treated as littering. The penalty should also be a minimum fine (ex. $1000) and a multiple of the estimated cost of cleaning it up.

Graffiti should also be treated as littering and subjected to a fine and punitive multiple that is largely proportional to its size or prominence. Graffiti whose largest dimension is less than 12 inches would be given the $1,000 fine.  If its largest dimension is 2 feet, it would be given a $2,000 fine.  If 4 feet, then $4,000; 10 feet, then $10,000.etc. In addition, the estimated cost of cleaning it up should be levied.

The wrongfulness of littering should be drilled continuously into the minds of every member of society through as many media outlets and other avenues as possible. This should be an important thrust of primary education. The $1,000 minimum standard penalty for littering should also be common knowledge.


Litter Collection Competitions

In an attempt to harness the competitive human spirit to help incentivize the hunt for litter to clean up litter from the environment, perhaps governments or even private organizations could sponsor litter collection drives where people would be paid based on how much litter they picked up from a given area. This system could be used for virtually any area – urban, suburban, rural, and even wilderness areas.

School children should be incentivized to collect litter around their campus. Not only would it save the more expensive time of the custodian from having to spend an hour a day doing this task, but it would allow children to earn some money doing so. Kids could be paid $1 per pound of litter collected. The specific rules would be written out and students would have had to have read them and agreed to them to prevent arguments about the details of the program and payments. Sufficient installation of surveillance cameras would be critical in the capturing of cheaters taking garbage out of trashcans and claiming it to be collected litter. Penalties for cheating should naturally be very severe.

However, there should be an emphasis on cleaning up litter pollution in scenic and unusual lands such as along desert roads and fields, mountain trails, ocean floors, Antarctica, and other unusual and tourist locations. Perhaps this could encourage the development of new technologies to clean up certain environments, like the ocean floor, more efficiently.


Government Funded Litter Collection

Perhaps the homeless or anyone else who wants could be hired to collect litter anywhere they want for the price of $1 per pound of anthropogenic litter that is deposited at an approved location.  Hefty deductions would be made if such people bring in rocks, sand, water or anything else that is considered ‘natural’.  Beverages other than water inside their containers would be considered anthropogenic and qualify as litter.  People who bring in concrete chunks (so long as they themselves didn’t break off the concrete chunk), discarded furniture, shopping carts, mattresses or anything else that is made by humans and in a location where such items are not supposed to be should qualify as litter.  Of course, some mechanism for ensuring that people do not go into trashcans and fraudulently produce their contents as evidence of them picking up litter needs to be implemented.  Apart from imposing dramatic penalties for engaging in such fraud (equivalent to several times the expected earnings), a public awareness campaign could be launched informing and encouraging the public to provide evidence of such people engaging in such fraud.  This way, litter would be ‘magically’ collected along highways, bike paths, street gutters, and countless other places.

During times of natural disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes when litter will naturally abound, this program should be suspended until the normal cleanup process has officially been completed.

Together with the hefty littering fines and enforcement stated above, once the bulk of litter has been collected, the price paid for gathering litter by the government could be raise to whatever amount the market will bare, such as $5 or $10 per pound.


37. Underground Power Lines

To prevent the danger posed by falling live power lines during storms, vehicle crashes, and other events, all power lines should be buried underground. This would also dramatically improve the aesthetic environment.

For power lines that are still suspended, procedures should be in place to automatically shut off electrical power to the sections of the utility grid that experience failures such as fallen wires due to falling tree branches, toppled telephone poles, etc. Live wires should never exist accidentally on the ground.


38. Light Pollution

There should be a government agency responsible for creating and enforcing light pollution standards. This agency would have the authority to impose fees on the manufacturers of exterior lighting fixtures which leak light to the sky beyond an amount allowable under these regulations. This agency would also have the authority to require permits and impose fees on external lighting arrangements if they leak beyond a certain amount of light to the sky.

On a larger scale, this agency should have the ability to measure light pollution (during random clear nights) emanating from any parcel of land within its jurisdiction, whether it is residential, business, or public lands. Perhaps an image of a large area could be obtained and then divided up through computer algorithms to enable accurate readings from individual parcels of land. Several images should be obtained over several random dates and times. If the average amount of light pollution exceeds a certain limit, appropriate enforcement actions could then be taken. The greater the amount of light leaking from the parcel, the greater the monetary fine would be on an exponential scale.

During times of significant astronomical events (namely, heavy meteor showers), outdoor lighting should be reduced or suspended. For example, street lighting, nighttime outdoor sporting events at stadiums (should not be scheduled during such nights), park lighting, parking lot lights, billboards, and businesses emitting a large amount of light, like gas stations, car dealerships, restaurants, etc., should be reduced or suspended. Governments could take the leading role in preventing light pollution during such times by turning off street lights, park lights, flag lights, and any other unnecessary lighting which they control. Private residences and businesses should be encouraged to do what they can to turn off outdoor lighting and take other measures to reduce light pollution.

Perhaps, if electric metering becomes advanced enough, the price for electricity should temporarily increase during significant astronomical events.
If significant cloud cover were to exist during the estimated time of the astronomical event, then all regulations could be cancelled.

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39. Sign Maintenance

All signs intended to be viewed by the public should be required to be properly maintained to aesthetically pleasing levels. They should be decent, clean and in good working order with all lights, if any, working properly.


40. Garbage Trucks, Leak-Proof Holds

The garbage holds of all trash trucks should be leak proof or designed in such a way so that no liquids (or solids) from inside the garbage holds are allowed to leak onto the street. This would prevent the messes and stains that garbage trucks often leave on streets. This may also help reduce bad odors associated with such leaks.


41. Trashcan Street Placing Restrictions

Trashcans and other trash or recycling containers should be prohibited from being placed on the streets (or in clear public view) prior to the beginning (midnight) of the day before the scheduled day for pick-up and they should be required to be taken in prior to the end (midnight) of the day after pick-up. In other words, trashcans should only be allowed on the street for a maximum of 72 hours, centered on the scheduled day for pick-up. Trashcans taken out before or left out after their prescribed times will subject their owners to littering fines due to their unaesthetic nature.