I recently gave a webinar (using Mikogo) for Zilch (slides here from Slideshare) for a number of litter activists. And then two days later attended an ESRC funded seminar on green criminology which still further sharpened my interest.
The litter activists obviously needed no persuading that we need to do something about litter but did not seem persuaded of my criminological or even green arguments. Many were punitive (though often involved in interesting educational or citizen action themselves) and seemed intent on cleansing the streets. In my search for the term litter (see ‘Matter All Over the Place: Litter, Criminology and Criminal Justice’ in the forthcoming Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology) in criminology texts and elsewhere I found the use of litter to mean the excluded and criminalised of society found on the streets. Human detritus.
Green penology is hardly developed but I'd like to suggest that the green take on punishment should be to reduce, reuse and recycle not throw away lives, even of offenders against ‘green’ laws or sensibilities. It is tempting to be as punitive on the polluter as society, suite and State has been on human detritus; and when we note that litter can be used in that criminalisation we may be more tempted. But greens need to be better. Mediation seems to be the more green option.
But and here I agreed strongly with one contributor (Clean Highways) on the power of the law to oblige local authorities and other 'amoral calculators' (or even 'political citizens' see Pearce and Tombs and my discussion of) to clean up.