At Disneyland, there’s a trash can every 30 feet.
Walt Disney was obsessed with the park’s cleanliness, and in the 1950s, he determined that Disneyland guests would carry trash about 30 feet before dropping it on the ground.
Pretty pathetic, right? 30 feet? Not exactly humanity’s proudest moment.
We don’t know if Disney, faced with his findings, railed against the laziness of modern man or bemoaned the cost of installing hundreds of extra trash cans because a bunch of overgrown children couldn’t be bothered to use one of the park’s many existing trash cans.
What we do know is this: Disney installed the extra trash cans—one every 30 feet. There are over 1,000 trash cans at Disneyland. And say what you want about Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but they are the cleanest theme parks you’ll ever visit.
But the real lesson here lies in what Disney didn’t do. He didn’t plaster the park with signs (NO LITTERING!), or play a recording over the loudspeaker every few minutes (“Please dispose of your trash in a receptacle. Thank you.”) He didn’t try to change his guests’ behavior, in other words. He simply accounted for it and designed around it.
We can try to change people (and sometimes we should), but it’s a difficult process. Sometimes it’s better to simply accept the world as it is and get to work.