In February 2020, I wrote a blog post called “Moonshot: Zero Litter by 2030” that outlined the strategy I thought the UK should take when it came to stopping litter at its source. Then the coronavirus pandemic happened and the word “moonshot” was forever tainted by a politician’s ill-conceived plan.
But one of the key points in my moonshot document was that we have to be willing to try to do things differently when it comes to litter (#10). Constant litter picks and flash-in-the-pan campaigns aren’t solving things. People are still littering. The idea of a cultural auto-pilot when it comes to rubbish—waste is taken home or put in a bin, no questions asked—is still a pipe dream, and the country has failed to make not littering the preferred option.
As individuals, it seems that there isn’t a lot we can do about this. We can’t increase fines. We can’t increase enforcement. We can’t physically make people use bins, as much as we would like to. There is a lot outside of our control. It’s for this reason that I think many of us have turned to something we can control: picking up litter.
First of all, we can support each other. We all want the same thing: a reduction or, even better, a full stop of litter.
Second, we can amplify our message beyond Litter Twitter and the scattershot approach of social media. We must be willing to target our messages to people who aren’t like us as well as be willing to make it clear to everyone that litter (and fly-tipping and dog-fouling) are not acceptable.
Third, we have to get out of our comfort zones. For a lot of us who litter pick, cleaning is our comfort zone.
By nature, I am a writer. I have two and a half blogs and a business that focuses on helping people write better. For me, writing is like snuggling into a favourite jumper; it helps me relax and clarifies my thoughts. I have likely written hundreds of thousands of words about rubbish since 2015. Whether the words themselves are rubbish, I’ll leave for you to decide!
But all of this is to say that I am willing to stretch my comfort zone to try something a little different this year to link up with the forthcoming Putting Litter First series. Let’s have a chat. Or rather, let’s have a meeting over Zoom so that I can share my thoughts with you and we can decide whether we’re willing to take that leap out of our comfort zone together when it comes to tackling litter.
I will be upfront with you: I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t particularly have any answers. There is no magic bullet when it comes to litter and behaviour change. Instead, I have ideas based on research, observations, and far too much time spent thinking about litter.
Nor do I want to be responsible for organising or project managing anything (been there, done that, have the battle scars). Instead, I would just like us to make a start at considering how we can use those things we can control—our thoughts, our speech, and our actions—to begin to influence others.
Does this interest you? If so, please complete the Doodle poll here so I can gauge interest, and please consider signing up below to be notified when the meeting is scheduled.