The answer is, yes, sort of. How the plants and green features are designed matter: Don’t leave any space for trash! We’ve all seen it: Bags of trash, broken appliances placed on city streets. The researchers say that in their study, the presence of greenery reduced 36.5% of illegal dumping. Here’s the fun part, the pair went on to study exactly what it is about the greened streets that prevented the dumping, down to color, placement and size of the vegetation. Horizontal coverage of the site is “significantly associated” with reducing illegal dumping. Distance from vehicle or pedestrian traffic and minimum vegetation height were also associated with dumping: The closer the vegetation is to traffic and the lower the minimum height, the less dumping. When the three variables are combined, they assert, there’s less space available for garbage. Incidentally, flower color apparently was not a factor.
Moral of the story: Prevent dumping of garbage with plants using low, wide plants placed as close as possible to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Be aware, in the end, the pair caution that this is the first work of its kind and the results rely on one location. Pushing back on that caveat: Plants make us happy and who wants to dump trash when they are happy? Let’s get rid of all misplaced garbage, litter and trash by planting every available space in our cities!
Urban street greenery as a prevention against illegal dumping of household garbage—A case in Suwon, South Korea
Youngha Joo, Urban Design Lab, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University, and Youngsang Kwon, Urban Design, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Integrated Research Institute of Construction and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14 (2015) 1088-1094.