In an early episode of Mad Men, the Drapers leave a picnic by dumping leftover trash onto the ground and leaving it there, presumably for trash-elves to grind to make their bread. It’s one of the show’s semi-subtle nods to everyday differences about life in the 1960s, and an obvious anachronism. Americans have changed their ways about litter since then, but not all the way. However, reaching an audience with an anti-littering message in 2014 takes more than a weepy Native American.
Our neighbors to the North, specifically those in Toronto, have recently begun using a series of cheeky ads to take a stand against litter. Created by the city’s Livegreen organization, these ads mashup the labels from different pieces of trash one might find soiling the Earth, forming an altogether new label. The new label is a message for the people guilty of littering, calling them out on their BS. As the tagline, “Littering says a lot about you,” iterates with half a packet of Sweet ‘n Low and half a packet of Lifesavers, littering makes you a “lowlife.”
It’s a smart, savvy approach to social activism that feels non-preachy even while preaching. Don Draper would surely approve, were he able to stop littering for even one moment.