There's litter, and then there's littering that is so pervasive that it becomes part of the landscape. There are parts of India (and plenty of other parts of the world) where this is true. To address the problem of litter and attempt to break the habits of litter-happy Mumbai residents, designers Nishant Jethi and Aalap Deasi created a trashcan lined with mirrors. When one places an item into the can, he or she sees the colorful design inside shift.
"Cleanliness Creates Beauty" says the sign above the trashcan. Indeed, its mirrors turn empty bottles and wrappers into some compelling patterns. But can this change the habits of people who'd otherwise get up from a bench and leave their lunch wrappings behind? According to the pilot test that Jethi and Deasi performed, it might. The "Cleanoscope" they installed near a playground collected 288 pounds in a week, while only 180 pounds is collected in average cans.
It's dated (from 2007) but this news story from an Indian news outlet claims that the city produced 6,000 tons of garbage each day, and that a bit more than half of that could be turned into compost. An NGO was busy training rag-pickers on how they could divert and compost organic waste from their trash, and it was working with a housing authority to develop a means of utilizing the compost. The goal was not only to teach the women a new skill, but to provide them with a secondary revenue stream.
While the Cleanoscope is a novel idea, and while it's hard to question any attempts to stem littering, a more systemic approach to addressing waste and its lifecycle could have a much larger impact.