According to Statistics Netherlands, in 2016 about 24% of the Dutch population over 25 smoked and many people who still do continue to act as if the world is their ashtray and litter everywhere. To counter this serious problem, a Dutch designer has come up with a way to pick up their butts up that involves training crows to do it.
A start-up called Crowded Cities set up by designers Bob Spikman and Ruben van der Vleuten plans to manufacture and install ‘crow bars’ in the urban landscape. The idea is to teach crows to pick up cigarette butts in exchange for food that is dispensed by the same device.
The video below also mentions that some research will have to be carried out to see how making crows do litterbugs’ dirty work will affect the crows on the long term. You can be sure animal activists will keep an eagle eye on that development.
Spikman explains that their machine will not dispense food if the bird were to put a lollipop stick on the delivery platform, and the video also mentions that the food is only dispensed once the butt is on the delivery platform, as that would make it quite an expensive bird feeder.
Getting people to pick up after themselves has clearly failed and any ideas the pair had over a type of vacuum machine to pick up butts weren’t feasible, so they’ve gone with crows. Even biodegradable cigarette filters aren’t an option because plastic and chemicals still end up polluting the ground and nature.
Watch the first six minutes of this video in English to get a feel for the crow bar.
Thousands of bags a day were handed out at the market. Most of these bags ended up in the garbage having been used only once and many bags blew away and littered the neighbourhood.
In 2011 the market in Dordrecht started an awareness campaign with the same goal. Vendors were asked to display signs asking shoppers to bring their own bags. According to the campaign website, one vendor, a baker called Kanters, has seen the amount of plastic bags he handed out for free drop by as much as 90%. He has since started charging 10 cent a bag from the remaining die-hards among his customers.
In a glorious display of bullying, barratry and plain old pettiness, the Dutch justice department has decided to take a littering case to the Supreme Court.
It started in October 2009 when a man was fined 120 euro for dropping an empty can on the Neringweg in Lelystad. Rather than paying the fine, the man decided to wait for the court case, which he lost. His lawyer appealed for two reasons, namely that the offence was too small to warrant such a heavy handed response from the state, and that the justice department failed to actually prove the man had broken the law.
The judge quite rightly ruled that it is the justice department’s prerogative to pick its battles, but then awarded the case to the defendant. The local ordinance of Lelystad stipulates that litter needs to be put into a rubbish bin. The man successfully argued that the justice department had provided no proof that there were bins in the street (which there were, by the way).
Spokeswoman for the justice department Kiki Plugge said that the department wants to create clarity for municipalities: should they amend their ordinances? The question seems moot, as the justice department lost because they messed up, not because the ordinance is unclear. The spokeswoman then continued to say that “we do not want people to litter”, which seems an odd thing to say. Of course the justice department gets to pick its own battles, but one would hope that it does not base its choices on its own, undoubtedly narrow minded tastes and interests.
Quite frankly I hope the justice department is taught a lesson on its obligation to perform due diligence, and on suspects’ rights and due process.
Lelystad is a young city of 70,000 souls, built in a place where in the 1950s, a sailor would only be able to see the sea around him. The Dutch Supreme Court doesn’t perform trials. Instead, it only checks to see if the law has been applied correctly given the facts of the case.