Resource Use

NLWA launches new campaign as a third of young North Londoners admit they don’t recycle

A pub without glasses to drink from; a football match without glasses to see through; a world without the everyday ‘stuff’ we take for granted: this is the dystopian future depicted in the North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA) new campaign, ‘Save Our Stuff’, intended to encourage recycling by suggesting what the world might look like if we didn’t.

The hero of the campaign is Arjen, sent back in time from the Netherlands where plastic shortages are so drastic he has been forced to don wooden clogs: in one video created for the project he asks the viewer to “stop throwing away plastic. We need it for trainers and stuff.”

It is an important sentiment translated into the ironic tone of the apathetic modern ‘millenial’, a tongue-in-cheek approach designed to engage with the young people of North London. An NLWA-commissioned survey revealed that while almost 90 per cent of young people in the area (aged between 18 and 34) said they believed recycling to be important, around a third of those polled then admitted they did not recycle at all.

NLWA launches new campaign as a third of young North Londoners admit they don’t recycle
Arjen, the clog-wearing face of NLWA's Save Our Stuff campaign

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, said: “Young people know that recycling is important, but we need them to act now on this knowledge.”

The ‘Save Our Stuff’ campaign has been created in order to bridge this gap between knowledge and action, and NLWA are thus hoping not only to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, but also to achieve tangible results, aiming to reach the EU target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2020.

NLWA is the second largest waste disposal authority in the UK, covering Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. Recycling rates for the area are currently at only 32 per cent, and with 47 other local authorities performing at an equal or lower rate, and overall UK recycling rates falling from 2014 to 2015, the results of NLWA’s approach will be eagerly awaited.

The campaign has a website, with videos, a recycling game, and information about how and where to recycle in the North London boroughs.

Accordingly, the campaign was launched with a pop up bar from the future, ‘The Clog and Clown’, where visitors could try specially created mocktails like a ‘Bin and Tonic’ - as long as they could find a way to drink it. Without a glass, customers were invited to make their own drinking vessel using alternative recyclable materials such as plastic toys, test tubes or vases.

By drawing attention to the potential of these random objects, the campaign questions the throwaway attitude implied by the word ‘stuff’, and offers a reminder of the value of everyday objects for reuse and recycling.

Loakes concluded: “Through ‘Save Our Stuff’, and with Arjen’s help, we are hoping to reconnect with young people by offering a completely new and original take on the recycling message, inspiring them to use resources sustainably and responsibly.”