Want a Clean Park? Think Ability Support

As someone whose primary mode of transportation is on foot, I’m probably more annoyed than most by people who don’t clean up after their dogs. A day stepping in dog poop is pretty much a day ruined. That said, I get why it happens sometimes. A lot of areas don’t have convenient trash cans, and people may not have plastic bags to pick up the poop. Shit happens. Yes, that pun was 100% intended.

When I was in Austin, I noticed they have these nifty little stations in a lot of the city’s green areas. They’re displays that encourage proper etiquette but also offer plastic bags and sit above a trash can. If you’re near one of these signs, you have everything you need to clean up after your dog.

No more excuses: Plastic bags and trash cans are provided to clean up after your dog.

This is a brilliant example of ability support. When you ask somebody to engage in a behavior, their ability to do so may be limited by any resources that are scarce at the moment . . . resources such as garbage bags and trash cans. Offering those supplies provides an immediate ability boost and increases the chances of good behavior.

I also like that these stations are so visible in Austin. My guess is that they create a bit of social pressure for people to clean up after their dogs. If you know these stations are nearby, it’s pretty hard to tell yourself that no one will blame you for walking away from a mess.