I have been sitting on a secret the past few weeks, but I am happy I can reveal that I am one of the new Keep Britain Tidy #LitterHeroes Ambassadors! This new programme has seen 100 people selected from across the country to work with Keep Britain Tidy to help shape the future of tackling litter in the UK. We had the opportunity to meet this weekend and it was fantastic to speak with so many like-minded individuals who are all doing their bit to look after their communities.
One of the reasons I was keen to take part is so that I can share what we’ve been doing in Chippenham and learn from others. To get the ball rolling, here’s some of the projects Off the Ground has been involved in, in addition to our usual Community Clean Ups:
- Branded and Litter Counts: A background in academia means I love quantitative data, and a husband who humours my unusual hobby means I have someone who is happy to count up the recycling we find. Over the past several years this has led to an enormous amount of data being collected as to what the people of Chippenham are drinking. We still need to work on “closing the loop”—targeting the customers of the most popular beverages—but we at least have the evidence to show what’s getting tossed. If you’re interested in recording your own data, grab a blank copy of the spreadsheet. Drop me a line if anything is unclear or if there are problems with the formulas.
- LitterWatch2017: Litter doesn’t just disappear, and this project showed this quite graphically with a weekly photo of some of the most ommon litter (hint: it was still around at the end of the year). This is a great project to run with a school: encourage students to make their own predictions about what will happen with the litter and to record the changes each week.
- Love Chippenham: This campaign had a number of components that could be adapted for use in communities across the country.
- Bespoke Posters: It’s easy for people to switch off when seeing the same sign over and over again, but 16 different posters were created that reflected the common shops along the Chippenham High Street. This allows for a consistent message to be shared in a novel way.
- Chalk Trails: Chippenham is fortunate to have several popular parks, but unfortunately their popularity leads to litter. Chalk trails sharing litter facts were written along pathways so that visitors could read more about the problems caused by rubbish in the environment. After all, chalk disappears, litter doesn’t!
- Residential Bin Scheme: One of our most promising interventions, this saw volunteer householders agree to put a sticker on their bin saying that passers-by could use it for litter. This is a simple way to extend the urban infrastructure. For future trials, I would recommend
glow-in-the-dark labels and a wider behaviour change campaign to help break down the taboo against using someone else’s bin.
- ChippenGo: This little game was used to encourage people to take pride in Chippenham and see a different side of it. While the competition has been won, the game itself is still available to play.
- Where’s Your Patch? Following the campaign, residents were encouraged to adopt their own local patch to keep litter-free.
- Refill Chippenham: We have linked up with City to Sea and the Refill campaign to launch Refill stations in Chippenham and cut down on single-use plastic bottles.
- Bin Mapping: Back to data collection: since we couldn’t get a map from the Council about where local bins were located, we turned to crowdsourcing and managed to map most of Chippenham.
- Brand Bingo: Another little game that can be used when litter picking, or for long car journeys and recording the litter spotted along the roadways!
You can see even more on the main website, including things my Litter Strategy and Reduce Your Wasteline. And speaking of the website, I am still collecting suggestions for how to improve it. I would like to give it a complete overhaul to make it more useful both for members of Off the Ground and for others who would like to try some of the activities in their own community. Some of my initial thoughts are below, and please get in touch if you have any other suggestions.
- Idea bank: A collection of potential anti-waste projects and examples of projects we have tried.
- Guide to running a community clean up: Many hands make light work, and it would be great to see other areas within Chippenham (and beyond) take on running regular clean ups.
- Poster / meme library: We have created a number of posters and memes over the past several years, and it would be great if we could make them easily accessible for others to download and share.