Resource Use

‘Neat Streets’ targets litter

Environmental charity Hubbub, in collaboration with Westminster City Council, its waste contractor and a number of packaging associations, has launched a project with the aim of finding the most effective ways of combating littering and bringing about behaviour change.

The Neat Streets initiative will focus on Villiers Street in the London borough of Westminster – a 500-metre stretch between the Thames Embankment and Charing Cross station that is home to 11 fast-food outlets, three pubs, a nightclub, cafes, two tube station entrances, corporate offices, private homes, and a litter problem that costs Westminster council £1 million a year to clean.

Running from May to October, the Neat Streets project is ‘exploring how games, clever messaging, playful street architecture and art can shift attitudes and behaviour’.

Initiatives include:

  • ‘My Street is Your Street’ – a gallery of over 50 users of the street encouraging others to take pride in the area exhibited in the two nearby stations, on the streets and in local businesses.
  • ‘Gumdrop on-the-go’ – small handheld pods to store used gum are being distributed to passers-by and local businesses. When full, they can be dropped off at a collection point on the street and Gumdrop Ltd will then collect it and reprocess it into new rubbers and plastics.
  • ‘Talking Rubbish’ – a bin that will greet waste with a ‘grateful’ belch, sneeze or applause.
  • ‘Chew Is It?’ – a ‘pointillist’ display where passers-by can stick their gum on an emerging collage. They can then guess the famous face being moulded out of used gum, and if they text the answer to a supplied number will receive a ‘fun fact’ in return.

Hubbub plans to ‘independently measure’ and ‘openly share’ the results with the intention of ‘giving a new impetus to national campaigns’.

The charity also plans to create a new litter manifesto alongside its partners, setting out what has to be done at all levels to reduce the blight of litter-strewn streets. It hopes to present the manifesto to the new government, backed by influential signatories.

Project ‘taking a fresh approach’ to enacting behaviour change

Hubbub Founder and CEO Trewin Restorick said: “Hubbub is a new environmental charity that was established to take a fresh approach to engaging a mainstream audience in environmental campaigns.

“For the Neat Streets project, we are seeking to test how effective some of the most successful behaviour change campaigns from around the world are at cutting litter in one of the busiest streets in London. 

“The Villiers Neat Streets campaign will run for six months. The independently measured results will be openly shared helping others to create effective anti-littering campaigns in their community. “

Litter background

Polling carried out by Hubbub found that 86 per cent of people think littering is a ‘disgusting habit’, but that only 15 per cent would confront someone if they saw them doing it. In addition, 83 per cent of those polled think litter on streets encourages others to add to it.

Littering hits the public economically as well: research published by Keep Britain Tidy last year found that street cleaning costs English taxpayers almost £1 billion every year, much of which is spent on cleaning up litter and illegally-dumped waste.

Hubbub was founded in June last year, and in addition to litter, has run projects on food waste and fashion, with future initiatives planned that will focus on saving money at home, sport and leisure and innovations in approaches to the environment planned for the future.

Learn more about the Hubbub Neat Streets campaign.