Resource Use

Chewing gum campaign hits Oxford Street

Chewing gum campaign hits Oxford StreetA national campaign to reduce chewing gum litter has been launched by an initiative highlighting the extent of the problem on London’s Oxford Street.

Every piece of gum on the pavement along Oxford Street between Holles Street and Old Cavendish Street, was circled by members of the Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) using fluorescent yellow chalk.

This push to get the litter noticed has come as part of CGAG’s gum removal process throughout October.

Now in its tenth year, results of the annual campaign in previous years indicate a positive reaction from the public and a subsequent reduction in discarded chewing gum. According to CGAG, the 2014 campaign led to an average fall in gum litter of 38 per cent in participating areas, with a 90 per cent reduction in one community.

Last year, CGAG reported that the amount of chewing gum removed from Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street equated to the size of around 12 football pitches, covering approximately 86,000 square meters.

£56 million a year spent ‘cleaning up the horrible mess’

Launching the campaign last week, Rory Stewart, Resources Secretary, said: “Spitting out or dropping chewing gum stains streets and is a blight on our towns and cities. Councils spend around £56 million per year cleaning up the horrible mess it leaves, and so I’m pleased to see efforts to help highlight the problem. I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s campaign.”

Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive at Keep Britain Tidy, a partner in CGAG, commented: “We are proud to be the only group that comes together to tackle the problem of chewing gum littler, and we are committed to supporting local authorities and Business Improvement Districts to improve the quality of our public spaces, creating a cleaner and greener place to work and live.”

New campaigns reducing gum litter

A similar movement aiming to find the most effective ways of combating street litter has been put in place by environmental charity Hubbub. The Neat Streets initiative, focused in the borough of Westminster, 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 users of the street encouraging others to take pride in their local area; ‘Gumdrop on-the-go’, small handheld pods distributed to passers-by which, when full, are collected by Gumdrop Ltd and reprocessed into plastics; and ‘Talking Rubbish’, a bin that will greet waste with a congratulatory belch, sneeze or applause.

Learn more about the Chewing Gum Action Group and Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Exploring the indirect costs of litter in England’ report.