Hmmm . . . this post sounds very much like one I posted here a while back.
I've never met you Hiram . . . but I like how you think.
Here's my thoughts . . . again . . . in case some of you folks forgot.
1) Geo-caching is all about the journey and the thrill of the find . . . but sometimes, just sometimes it's nice to find something other than junk in the cache. Now granted, one's man's trash is another person's treasure . . . but when you find broken or dirty items I think most folks can honestly say it's trash and not "treasure."
2) I believe that any change can be made by the actions of just one person who can spread this belief to another and so on and so forth. My personal belief is this . . . I will only trade if a) I really like the location, reason for the cache or b) there is something I would like to trade equally. In some cases I've taken nothing and left something in its place simply because I liked the spot and felt the cache would benefit with some extra swag. More often than not I will leave my signature item since folks seem to enjoy collecting them in which case I will not trade or take anything. In some cases (usually when I'm less than impressed with the container and lack of maintenance on the cache) I will simply record TNLN . . . but sometimes I also write this because I couldn't put my signature item in the cache. Speaking of signature items . . . I like collecting the ones where folks have shown some creativity with items that reflect their geo-caching knicknames or ones that are actually collectible. I passionately dislike signature items that look "cheap" or seem like someone put absolutely no thought into the item. Some of my favorites probably didn't cost a lot to make (most likely less than a buck or two), but they showed that the person took some time to come up with an item (i.e. Brdad's photo marble, Mainely Roses card and flower, Beckett's card and pin, FFFarmer's tractor key chain, Ms. Tea Lee's flower, etc.) My final thought on the trinkets . . . sometimes it's not the value of the item. One of my favorite finds was from Mainedeerhunter . . . it was a glass cat that looked as though it could have come from a yard sale or even from his wife's coffee table when she wasn't looking . . . it probably didn't cost a lot, but I traded for it since it was something I knew my wife would like. One other thing, when I place an item or signature item in a cache I try to either make sure it's in the original packaging or in a nice ziplock bag . . . keeps it clean and makes it look a lot neater.
3) Per the hide . . . I try to use the terrain or area to hide the cache with items other than the geo-sticks which we're used to seeing . . . but sometimes I like to offer an "easy" cache. A lot of it depends on how likely the cache could be found due to its location or popularity by geo-muggles. In my first few caches I've tried to balance some hides that are a little more challenging with some easy ones. For example, I'm working on two cache sites right now . . . one should be fairly easy to find while the other should take folks a bit more time . . . or at least I hope since I'm putting a lot of work into creating this one.
Finally, OK, almost finally, I periodically check my cache sites and the contents. I for one have no problems in throwing out junk, business cards, religious tracts or items that do not comform with whatever minimal requests I have added (i.e. I tossed a toy eyeball out Thrill cache since it was not a signature item (at least it didn't seem to be one) and it clearly was not worth $5. If this item had been in one of my regular caches with no stipulations I would have kept it in there.
And now a shameless plug if you're looking for good swag and a good view . . . check out I've Found My Thrill . . . I've asked folks to trade items worth $5 or more and so far most folks seem to be following this request . . . and as a result I've planning a second "good swag" cache.