Beyond Chippenham

I recently started a new job that takes me across the UK on a regular basis. London. Oxford. Coventry.  Bristol. And during these visits I am of course checking out the litter levels.

Bristol, my adopted hometown, needs some work; some areas are absolutely shameful. Coventry city centre was pristine when I was there … but went steeply downhill as soon as you stepped outside of it. Oxford is surprisingly filthy despite its beautiful architecture. And London. Oh London. A city of over 8 million people is just as dirty as you would expect. And yet there is an organisation trying to do something about it. Hubbub has launched the Neat Streets campaign focusing on Villiers Street between the Strand and Embankment.

I recently had a chance to check the street out, but unfortunately I wasn’t very impressed during my visit. The “My Street” poster campaign is nice (although do no women run a business on Villiers Street?), but the bins verged on overflowing, rubbish was still on the kerb after 10:00am, and I picked up a few pieces of litter myself.  

There were community payback litter pickers working on one end of the street though. How did I know they were doing community payback? They were wearing hi-vis vests emblazoned with COMMUNITY PAYBACK. Personally, I don’t think this is a great idea. I’ve written previously about why I don’t wear hi-vis when out on a rubbish walk, but in this particular case it feels like it is sending the wrong message: “Picking up litter is a punishment …  It is something that someone else does (not me!) … It doesn’t matter if I drop something, those people will pick it up.”

I do wish Hubbub the best of luck with their campaign, as many of the ideas they outline on their website are similar to what we hope to try in Chippenham. I am in London on a regular basis and who knows – maybe Villiers Street will have cleaned up its act by the next time I’m there!

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The first thing I notice getting off at Charing Cross? What appears to be a boarded up litter bin.

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Nice idea, but unfortunately it didn’t appear to be having much of an effect during my admittedly very short time on Villiers Street.

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Do you really want to put your hand in this bin?

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I don’t particularly want to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner where rubbish has been left.

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Overflowing bins … and the beginning of litter at the base.

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Gumdrop is a company who recycles used chewing gum into new polymers for the plastic and rubber industry.  Great idea, but unfortunately their collection container is being used as a bin.

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