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Litter Lounges deliver home truths about chewing gum

Litter Lounges deliver home truths about chewing gumThe Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) has transformed a section of east London into a ‘living bin’ to challenge the general public’s behaviour when it comes to responsible gum disposal.

Germinating from the knowledge that people would never drop gum in their own living rooms, the anti-littering campaign is designed to help people see the cleanliness of the outdoors as equally important as that of their own houses, and to allow the disturbing reality of chewing gum disposal to really sink in.

At the Hackney Litter Lounge, the first of many which are due to pop up over the coming weeks, passers-by were asked to drop their gum within its furnished surroundings, challenging social norms and addressing the litter problem which, CGAG has found, is particularly serious in the London borough.

In the Hackney area alone, CGAG estimates that 1.6 million pieces of chewing gum are dropped each month, which could add up to nearly 20 million pieces over the course of a year.

Stretched to a wider UK context, chewing gum and chewing gum staining plays a major part in the litter problem which now means that one in four areas of the country has an unacceptable level of litter.

Litter Lounges deliver home truths about chewing gumThat’s according to national anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy’s annual Local Environment Quality Survey of England (LEQSE), which also found last year that the amount of some of the most littered items has increased, with fast-food litter and plastic bags showing a particular increase. Eighty per cent of the sites surveyed during the project had some form of ‘food-on-the-go’-related litter present.

‘Someone else’s fault, everyone else’s problem’

Hackney is one of eleven local authorities and partners from across the UK taking part in this year’s campaign, displaying campaign materials on poster sites, monitoring gum litter and installing local Litter Lounges. Other locations will be popping up in Colchester, Corby, Harrow, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Maidstone, North Ayrshire, Oldham and Chester

Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive at Keep Britain Tidy, a partner in CGAG, said: “Littering is often seen as someone else’s fault and everyone else’s problem. For more than 10 years we’ve been committed to raising awareness of littered gum and using creative ways to get people to stop and think as part of the Chewing Gum Action Group.

“This latest idea is all about making people see their local streets as an extension of their own home, they don’t drop gum in their home, so why should they on the street?”

Last year’s CGAG campaign, which included every piece of chewing gum on the pavement of London’s Oxford Street being highlighted with yellow chalk, reduced chewing gum litter by 48 per cent in participating areas, according to the CGAG.

Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) added: “It’s simple; dropping gum on the street is selfish and antisocial. The horrible stains left on pavements spoil streets up and down the country for everyone, and having to peel it off the sole of your shoe is disgusting. I hope this campaign makes the thoughtless minority who cause this problem think again and bin their gum.”

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