Don’t Leave as Thanks: The Netherlands’ Famous Anti-Litter Campaign

14 januari 2022

Citizens cleaning up litter on streets or in the forest area is a not so uncommon sight in the Netherlands. Especially on weekends, one can see people with gloves, bags and litter picker tongs, doing the job. The latest litter item being added to their bags is ‘masks’.

"Don’t Leave as Thanks"

The Netherlands’ Famous Anti-Litter Campaign

Of course, nothing to be glorified about. It’s normal to keep one’s surroundings clean.

But very important to mention the effort that these citizens are putting in. They are trying to remedy the abnormal behavior of leaving the waste anywhere one pleases to.

The awareness of urban litter being an environmental problem reached a high point in the Netherlands in 2021 with anti-litter activist Dirk Groot. On 21 June 2021, Leiden University published an article about his anti-litter activism titled, “How a Dutch man collecting 400,000 pieces of litter ended up on a scientific paper?”.

The article states that “anti-litter activist Dirk Groot photographed, tagged, and collected more than 400,000 pieces of litter in the Netherlands. Now, he and his data are included in a study on urban litter by researchers from Leiden University and Andrea Ballatore from Birkbeck, University of London.”

The fight against street litter is not a new one in the Netherlands.

Around 100 years back, Willy Sluiter’s graphics and Jacob Hendrik Slicher’s words were employed by Koninklijke Nederlandse Toeristenbond ANWB, the largest not-for-profit travelers' association in the Netherlands to create an anti-litter campaign.

The poster and the poem of the campaign became so famous that many food manufacturers wished to have the packaging of their products in the posters.

Laat niet als dank (Do not leave as thanks) became a common phrase and connoted that it is not normal to leave one’s waste just anywhere one pleases to.

Have a look at this almost hundred-year-old campaign in the posters below.



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This post is made possible by the support of Design Museum Dedel. Design Museum Dedel has a collection of over 150 years of advertising and design history in the form of posters. The poster collection is made accessible by the collaboration between Design Museum Dedel and Reclame Arsenaal (IADBB).

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Chandrita Jaisinghani
Chandrita is a continuous learner passionate about writing, creation, and marketing. She loves accessing and assessing her inner self through poetry and literature. Learn more about her on her website. You can also reach her at