Shaming Strategy for Dog Waste Cleanup

Guest article from Samantha Wulff of Curbicus.

What’s a good way to get people to do something? Shame them. Well, it might be. The strategy might be a little callous, but if it works to help curb the dog waste dilemma, we are all for it. Springfield, Missouri decided to give this strategy a shot, and it’s getting noticed by other cities, including the likes of New York.

Springfield Environmental Services decided to take a humorous approach to a dog waste awareness campaign. Employees are posting little flags by abandoned dog poop with sayings such as, “Is this your turd? ‘Cuz that’s absurd.” You can see more examples and follow the campaign by following the hashtag #scoopthepoop. The real purpose of this campaign is to draw awareness to the problem of dog waste and to try and shame people into picking up their dog waste, because who wants to be the cause of one of those signs? Nobody. Public humiliation usually keeps people in check.

We’ve all seen the photos on social media of dogs being shamed for doing things that, well, dogs do. They are often accompanied by a giant mess in the background and a really guilty-looking face. Dog shaming photos are hilarious, and while these “people shaming” photos aren’t quite that level of funny, they are hopefully more effective in driving change.

Springfield’s approach was ingenious, and if it actually increases dog waste pickup, we think New York should jump on the wagon. The problem is just too large not to try every possible solution. (We’ve been working on another part of the solution, too.) There’s no doubt that dog waste is unsightly and a public nuisance, but more importantly, it is damaging to the environment. With 21.1 billion pounds of dog feces being produced in the United States every year, we need to revolutionize how to think about and deal with dog waste, because it is currently polluting our water sources and disproportionately affecting our urban living areas. 

Dogs aren’t going anywhere (and we would never want them to) which means their waste isn’t either. This is an ongoing problem with a long history, but people respond to humor, so let’s hope that this campaign shames people into doing the right thing for their communities and the environment.