Litter Kills:The Clean Up Britain Campaign

The UK has a serious litter problem. Take a look around you – every village, town, city, beach and roadside is blighted with the lazy leftovers of our daily lives. Clean Up Britain had been wrestling hard with how to properly ignite the conversation about litter and the damage it does and has recently launched a ground breaking and innovative anti-litter campaign, called ‘Now or Never’, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

John Read, Founder of Clean Up Britain, said: ‘The reason we’re doing this 12-month long behavioural change campaign is to test a whole range of social interventions, behavioural nudges, messaging, education and collaboration modes to see how well (or not) they work, and hopefully identify some successful initiatives that could be considered for upscaling to the national campaign being planned by the government. In essence, we’re using Leamington Spa as a live test-bed/incubator unit to research, identify and experiment with new ideas  aimed at persuading people to stop dropping litter.

Research found that in particular, they needed to get to young women and men, age 16-30, who don’t even think about litter. This age group, while outwardly professing a love of the planet, recycling and other green issues, over-indexes on littering compared to other age groups.

The campaign also knew, from previous research, that talking about hurt and dead animals was one of the only ways to ignite the conversation about litter with their target audience. And so they began looking hard at the impacts of litter on animals, and with help of  the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association and the pet charity, Blue Cross, they built the bigger, shocking picture. Their campaign ‘Litter Kills’ was born.

They know that the images they are using are shocking – that’s the point. They wanted to give people a reason to react strongly to seeing others litter, and make those who do think twice. They have to shift attitudes and behaviour. Our littering habit affects thousands and thousands of animals in a very bad, sometimes fatal way.

The images they have used in the campaign are real.  There is nothing fake about them.  In fact, there are countless more they could have chosen from and you can read just a few of the case studies from the RSPCA and vets on the campaign website.

Its been ages since a national anti-litter campaign ran which changed littering behaviours, the topic of littering gets no airtime with this audience, and any wider efforts to prompt thinking and behaviour change has been largely ineffective. They had seen the RSPCA stats – they get 5000 calls a year about animals injured by litter. Instinctively, they knew that this must be the tip of the iceberg.

Councillor Moira-Ann Grainger, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood at Warwick District Council, said:
“I’m delighted that Warwick District Council is supporting this initiative. We hope that by trialling this initiative here in the heart of the country, we will be able to show how making small changes can have a huge impact on the future of our environment.

There are, currently, 40+ Partners involved in the ‘Now or Never’ Campaign, including: Warwick District Council, Warwick Business School, Iceland supermarket, the RSPCA, Blue Cross for Pets, University of Warwick Students Union, Leamington Town Council, The British Veterinary Association, GreenFinder, ARC (Achieving Results in Communities) Action 21, Foundry Wood, and many more!

To visit the Clean Up Britain campaign website click here