We all know it’s not cool to litter. If our hands are burdened with the weighty responsibility of an unwanted and snot-spent tissue, or an empty aluminum can that once held some Dr. Skipper, or even a gentle gum wrapper, the worst thing — the worst possible thing — would be to throw it on the ground.

Yes, throwing garbage on the ground is literally littering. But beyond that? Well… that’s where things get a little dicey.

Trashcan? The only limit is your trashmagination!

I first noticed the “litterplugs” (if I may) phenomenon in Japan, ten years ago. This is the photo that started it all, a slightly bowing construction wall by Shinjuku station that immediately became a garbage can:


Since then, it was everywhere. Now, I can understand how generalized holes — containers, street light bases, flower pots — become makeshift trashcans. Even if they’re obviously in no way trashcans, and likely will never be emptied or cleaned by any human being on earth, and in most cases there’s a real trashcan mere feet away, they at least share a vague similarity to the raw concept of a trashcan.

Litterplugs - 02 - 2
Litterplugs - 05
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But the best litterplugs take it to a new level.

They raise not-literring littering to an art.

Wedge your peach chunks garbage into a brick wall? Sure!

Back Camera

Make PBR stand for “Perfect Bark Receptacle”? Yes, yes!

Litterplugs - 55

Pop your can in a drywall hole briefly opened up by construction workers?

Litterplugs - 22 - 2

Look around desperately until you spot an exterior outlet? Go go go!

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Somehow calculate the exact horizontal space required for your juice box? Woo!

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Put your wrapper in the hole left by the missing handle… in a garbage can? Award winning!

Litterplugs - 49

Remember: you’re not littering if it ain’t touchin’ the ground!

Litterplugs, I salute you and your particularly weird blend of doing the right thing.

If you find any particularly inventive litterplugs, tweet me!

17 responses to “Litterplugs”

  1. I see this often. Usual the base where a light pole once stood. Do people put things in these crazy places because they can and they think it’s funny? Or are they so opposed to litering and carrying trash around that they just have to do something with it?

  2. I disagree, if it’s not in the appropriate receptacle (trash can, recycling bin, etc.) it most definitely is litter because someone will be disposing of it after you’re gone.

  3. I think it stems from people wanting to use a bin but being unable to find one. Train stations in the UK don’t have bins anymore because terrorists might put bombs in them – so you find all sorts of things turned into makeshift bins by the public.

  4. Last fall there was a bike in Brooklyn (on 8th ave and 9th street, I believe) that had a basket where people kept dropping their litter. The owner finally hung a sign on it, asking people to put cool/funky stuff in the basket, which she planned to use for an art project about all the litter she’d received.

    And based on your photos, it looks like Starbucks is the unofficial sponsor of American litterplugging.

  5. When I was little there was a tree in the yard with a knot hole near the base. Naturally all manner of things were put in there.

    A couple years ago the tree was cut down, leaving a broad stump with a cavity in it. We were disappointed that there was no sign at all of anything we put in there 30 years ago.

  6. i loved this post, can i ask u something please ? how could u make the pictures fits the page’s wide ?

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