It sounds counterintuitive, but it's apparently working. New York City's MTA ran an unusual experiment last year: In an attempt to rid stations of the trash that accumulates beyond the trashcan (the New York Times cites "beside turnstiles and beneath benches, along subway platforms ... and on the tracks"), it eliminated trashcans altogether from two stations. The result? Less garbage, to the tune of 50% and 67% drops in what was removed by city workers. The theory is that riders will find an alternative spot to trash the trash.
But they're apparently not choosing to sloppily do so right at the mouth of the subway station entrance. "Sanitation has monitored these two locations and there has been no negative impact," says a Sanitation Department rep. The results were so encouraging that eight more stations are about to lose their cans. The MTA's chair says all stations could eventually go can-free, cutting down on the 14,000 tons of trash that are hauled out of the subway system annually. The Times notes that London's Underground has been can-less for more than a decade.