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No trash in sight

January 22, 2011

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Singapore is the holiest city I’ve ever seen.  Widely known for its ban on chewing gum, Singapore also takes litter quite seriously.

Punishments range from thousand dollar fines to psychological counseling. And in the busy subway they’ve found a great way to prevent litter.

All the metro cards are plastic and you pay a deposit when you buy one–$1 SGD for a one way ride and $3 SGD for a refillable EZ-Link card.

Because you put down a deposit, no one wants to lose their card. And if you did lose a card, you’d better believe someone is going to pick it up and return it for the deposit.

It’s a great idea for cities like New York where little yellow metro cards dot the platforms like autumn leaves. I know that we’ll still have chewing gum and people will continue to pee in the subways, but I really do believe in the broken windows theory–disorder begets more disorder, but in a clean environment, people are less likely are to treat public spaces as a communal dumping ground.

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