Dirt Nap City

What Was A Litter Bug? A Dirt Nap City Dead End

February 22, 2024 Dirt Nap City Season 3 Episode 41
Dirt Nap City
What Was A Litter Bug? A Dirt Nap City Dead End
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Show Notes Transcript

Just to be clear - we are not saying that litter is completely a thing of the past, because unfortunately, it still exists today. However, we do believe that awareness about NOT littering has gone way up with the help of some clever campaigns that really began in the 1970's and 1980's. This episode of Dirt Nap City Dead Ends looks at the way people used to look at littering and the way we think about it today.
So don't be a litter bug and check out this entertaining episode!

Dirt Nap City Dead Ends are short stories about the traditions, sayings, technologies, and businesses that used to be popular but now reside in Dirt Nap City.  If you have an idea for a Dirt Nap City Dead End story, drop us a line at our email address: not@dirtnapcity.com

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Alex:

Hello, welcome to another episode of dirt nap city dead ends. Kelly, I've been having fun people. But we talked about other types of dead things, right?

Kelly:

How do we Yeah,

Alex:

just dead concept dead? Dead ends, right?

Kelly:

Yeah, I think originally we talked about calling this whatever happened to but I kind of little more descriptive and seems to fit the brand a little better for us. But yeah, these are that existed maybe when we were younger or maybe way back. We haven't tried any really old ones third, this will be our third. I have no idea what Alex is about to talk about. So I'm excited to see younger or not. But

Alex:

I hope you didn't. But I bet you did. I bet you did. Like polio. The last time we talked about demand out there, should we do 27 Set season one season two CDs of Dirt Nap City.

Kelly:

Right, right. You can order it from time life books, Time Life archives, and you'll get a

Alex:

We'll send you one a month. Oh, yeah, I think for $200 a year recurring, of course, recurring subscriptions.

Kelly:

Yeah, $200 a month, you will get all of our episodes on CD. As a matter of fact, for $200 a format you want. I don't know

Alex:

how much you think $200 is, but I'm not going.

Kelly:

You're a professor. That's, that's right. Writing senators is part of your it's a month's

Alex:

worth of work for me. Today, I want to talk about something that more of a behavior. You know, building. We talked about old tech, but I want to talk about a behavior that Oh,

Kelly:

I know what it is. spitting into spittoons Close,

Alex:

close. It is close. This is a behavior that when we were in our C, younger than 10 years old, in well, I bet you Yeah, but you saw as much as I did. And then all of a sudden, when we were don't see it a lot. And that behavior is littering.

Kelly:

Oh, yeah, that's kind of like spitting in a spittoon or not into a spittoon. just spitting on

Alex:

I remember car trips, where you would go, you would drive along the road. And the road was this is probably in the 1970s, mid to late 70s. And I've been to other countries. And some of that think if you were a time traveler and you went back 50 years, I think you would be appalled at on the road, on the sidewalk, everywhere you looked, I think you would be amazed on how much is very difficult as the as the environmental people know, you know, trying to change people's were able to successfully reduce littering because they turned littering into a taboo. Who is they? called Keep America Beautiful. And that started in 1953 and one of the things that they did was start The worst thing you can be called as a litter bug, man, don't be a litter but yeah,

Kelly:

so that's on Jitterbug, and then it changed into litter bug and

Alex:

they started on us when we were in elementary school by by threatening that we were in the garbage. I think that was really important to get the elementary kids to not want to be this

Kelly:

Yeah. Also they had that. That Native American guy that would cry. That's

Alex:

what I was gonna get to so 1971 They call it the crying Indian PSA. Yes. So the guy was uh, Italian American actor who only played Native Americans in the movies. His name was Iron Eyes, even did DNA testing after he died and found that he was like 100% Sicilian. And he had no Native like goof on Native Americans, he just, but everywhere he went, he wore the headdress and he Eyes, Cody. That was the end. Okay. He had he had chosen for him for himself. But that was a very who haven't seen it, it was this Native American ish person who had, he'd be looking out over the yeah, I don't know if it was a landfill, but it was just garbage everywhere. And they'd zoom in on from his eye, right? Like, yeah, you took our land and your that commercial had a huge impact behavior, you're turning it into a taboo. You're trying to change the social norm here, right? In with an ingenious slogan. Yeah,

Kelly:

I know who I actually know who came up with that slogan. I've met this guy before Tim Buckler M. And he came up with that slogan in 1985. And is still probably profiting from it today.

Alex:

You're exactly right. In fact, I read a story here about Tim McClure pitching that to do and their audience, the people that were trying to change the behaviors that they were trying to old males. And drivers. These will be the kind of people they call them. Bubba's, who drove pickup spitters. They thought it was their God given right to litter. Right. So it was gonna be a said, the people in the board of Keep America Beautiful. Their average age was 107. And these people they were trying to talk to. And he came up, they showed the first board that said, you With Texas. Don't Mess With Texas. And they put that up there. And little lady, she said, Can we ma'am. You cannot use the line if you put please in front of it. And they they went without the Transportation because they wanted to put please in front of it. And the very first ad was Cotton Bowl telecast. January 1 1986. Was Stevie Ray Vaughan, sing in the eyes of Texas. And at the it made 26 of those commercials. In a 12 year spot. GSD. And M did. Like you say that was one of And, and they found that 690 6% of Texans have heard the phrase Don't Mess With Texas. Yeah,

Kelly:

it's still it's still used in I mean, there's so many, there's so many other means to litter. Now, you know, it can be about football, it can be about

Alex:

Well, that was the problem is that only 60% of Texans knew that it was associated with litter. George Strait. And the new version said, Don't Mess With Texas means don't let her not as catchy.

Kelly:

It means please, please don't let her put the phrase please in there. Yeah, it's it's it's Tim McClure at gsdm. And that was how I, I've heard I've heard this story before, but it's a such a direct and powerful statement. It's short, it's simple. It's not rude. It's just it's kind of

Alex:

I want to taps into Texan sense of pride in Texas and but also Their sense of like us against perfect. And it's, it's just amazing that it's only four words. And it reduced litter on Texas

Kelly:

And somehow like don't mess with Vermont just doesn't, doesn't really well it's funny

Alex:

because other other states like New York is, let's pick it up. Let's pick it up your Goomba right let's pick up trash but let's pick up the pace to let's get into this. And then California kind of goes with their don't trash it man. And then in, in this is international endeavor to and

Kelly:

Wow. You know, I gotta say, you know, don't mess with Texas, brilliant, brilliant campaign. beautiful state that we live in here. Alex and I are both in Texas is partially cleaner because of many children grew up with, like you said the litterbug concept. And it was something that as we packaging. I think in the earlier 20s 20th century, things didn't all come in plastic blister would not deteriorate things came in paper, or things came in cardboard. And and you know, today break down.

Alex:

Do you know what the most common piece of litter is?

Kelly:

I'm gonna say a packing peanut.

Alex:

It's actually cigarette. But

Kelly:

really? Yeah. So my dad was he worked for an oil company. So not really great for not rigs and on seismic boats to search for oil in the ocean, like North Sea, whatever. And he told me you've heard about this big, I don't even know where it is put this big sea of litter in the in of that. And he said there were so many Styrofoam things, including packing peanuts in it that possible things because it floats and doesn't deteriorate. It's got a half life of a billion dinged on our on our podcast review because it doesn't really have a half life of a billion

Alex:

accuracy is not something we're super. I mean, we want to get the spirit of this stuff. lane. Yeah. I think the important thing, like you were saying is that they got us young with they turned it into a taboo. And it come to find out I mean, littering still exist. Obviously, sometime. But it's not because they don't care. I think what we've learned is that it has still has predictor of Littering is the distance to a trashcan. That if somebody's far away from so if will cut down, one of the other big predictors of whether or not someone's gonna litter is if gonna do it, then they're gonna do it as well.

Kelly:

You're more likely to litter if there's litter there. They're more

Alex:

I don't want to say lazy, but we're more about convenience than we are. I don't think that are pro littering. I think everyone wants things. Everyone agrees that things look nicer changing people's behavior, we know a lot more about how to do that now than we used to. And I sometime when you're driving on the interstate, and you're looking around, there's virtually no not the way it was 5040 years ago. Yeah,

Kelly:

that's true. It's mostly Now you just see bits of tires that have fallen off. Right, try it thing that I was hoping you would bring up. And this was something it's a little little more broad phrase? give a hoot don't

Alex:

pollute. Man that was woodsy owl was

Kelly:

the owl Yeah, what's the owl was programmed for the Forest Service I think and he basically

Alex:

Yeah. Oh, shut up. Here's let's pour one out for woodsy

Kelly:

woods the timber cleaner and that lady who said please yeah, all of them deserve deserve a

Alex:

right, that was another episode of dead ends. Bye