This is it: the final Putting Litter First post of the year. Throughout the last 12-months, we’ve looked at how we can amplify our efforts within our communities: we cannot expect litter picks alone to be a solution to stopping litter, nor can we wait for the government to act. After all, if either of these options were effective, the problem would already be solved. Instead, I’ve offered thoughts for how we can talk to people to implement new programmes or start a dialogue so we can learn what the obstacles are … then figure out a way around those obstacles.
Before jumping into this month’s ideas, a story …
Many moons ago, in the distant year of 2019, I left my job in Swindon to start my own business.* There were many reasons I took this step, but the role being a bad fit for my personality and my hatred of working in an open plan office were near the top of the list.
But in the months before I left, I decided I would try to focus on what was within my control to make my day a little brighter. One activity was taking a walk around the building during my lunch break. It got me out of the office and, perhaps more importantly, allowed me to see daylight since I typically arrived in the dark and left in the dark during the winter.
Of course, I soon discovered one of the problems with walking during the day: I could see the entire area was covered with litter. Because I was planning to leave soon, I have to admit I didn’t bother to do any campaigning at the office; I just picked up what I could and counted down the days until I could leave.
I still sort of regret that I didn’t do more.
Which brings me to this month’s post: can you be a litter or environmental champion at your office?
For those who have returned to office life, are you able to run regular litter picks with co-workers in the car park or surrounding streets? Is there an office-wide newsletter you can use to amplify the message? Or can you identify hotspots where an extra bin or two may be beneficial?
Going even further back in time, to the spring of 2017, this was something Good Energy did during our first corporate litter pick in Monkton Park. Not only did they get out to collect rubbish, they also recognised where the organisation was having a negative impact, such as a smokers’ corner where cigarette butts were building up. I have to admit that I don’t think any subsequent action was taken, but(t) this is why having an environmental champion is so important: someone needs to be willing to make a polite nuisance of themselves to make sure things get done.
In my slightly grumpy post published earlier in February, I mentioned how litter picks were a great gateway to taking more environmental actions: they should be seen as the first step to wider environmental action, not the only step.
So, could you also encourage your colleagues to make simple swaps to reduce their plastic usage, such as reusable water bottles and coffee cups instead of disposables? Will your company be willing to provide these water bottles and coffee cups? Does your building have an on-site café that will provide a discount if you bring your own cup? Can a Terracycle recycling point be set up? Can you run a swishing party in a conference room? There are a lot of potential ways to amplify an anti-litter or pro-environmental message.
Although the Putting Litter First series is wrapping up, there is a lot more I’ll be sharing on the blog for those who are interested in doing more within their communities. Please continue to check back or follow Off the Ground on Facebook and Twitter.
In the meantime, here’s the full listing of Putting Litter First posts:
- Layering Anti-Litter Solutions
- April: Who do you know?
- May: Eco-Schools
- June: Corporate responsibility?
- July: Right tools, right information
- August: Littering is an own goal
- September: Training anti-litter behaviour
- October: Butt out
- November: Role models
- December: Raise a glass
- January: What goes up …
- February: Salience at the shops