I RARELY use the word ‘hate’ – but I make an exception when it comes to street litter.
I hate how litter looks. I hate how it smells and, worst of all, I hate what it says about the place to anyone living there or visiting it.
Whether it’s cigarette butts, empty cans or bottles, carrier bags, chewing gum or fast food cartons, it’s all anti-social.
Most people and businesses take pride in our community, living and operating here without making any mess, but some do not.
I often wonder what it is that makes a person feel it’s okay to just drop something from their hands, to not be bothered to keep hold of rubbish for just a few seconds more, and there’s a lot of research around the psychology of this.
People probably do it because they simply don’t feel responsible for public areas, like streets and parks and they often do it away from their own ‘patch’ – so that their mess simply becomes “someone else’s problem”.
Some people also litter because they believe or know that someone – a local street cleaner or even a good-hearted neighbour – will get it sorted out.
The big problem, of course, is that it you’re in an area where there’s already lots of visible litter, then the temptation to do the same is too much for some.
We know that’s true because if you’re somewhere that looks pristine and litter-free we know you’re far less likely to toss unwanted items to the kerb for sheer fear of embarrassment.
There’s some fantastic work being done around what can be done to tackle littering.
Some looks at how we can ‘nudge’ people to change their behaviour and it’s getting some interesting results.
Hubbub, a charity that creates environmental campaigns with a difference, is one good example.
They set up on a busy London street and tested a whole raft of things to see how it affected littering behaviour. They used ‘voting bins’ for cigarette butts, for example, or chalked around chewing gum litter highlighting the cost of removing each piece (£1.50 as it happens) and had some very encouraging results.
We’re looking at ideas like this too and are also throwing our weight behind another campaign thanks to a very persistent and inspiring local lady.
Ruth Major (pictured, right) is retired but is certainly not a person to rest on her laurels.
She has been an ‘anti-littering’ activist for a long time and posts updates as ‘Rubbish Ruth’s Rambles’ on Social Media.
Wherever she goes – and believe me, she seems to get everywhere up and and down the country – Ruth encourages people to join a national campaign asking each resident to pick up at least one piece of rubbish a day.
Just think about that.
The population of Oldham is more than 230,000 people so if each resident did that each day it could make a huge difference.
To get things started this month we’re running a #1PieceofRubbish competition on Twitter.
Anyone who picks up a piece of litter in Oldham and follows the entry guidelines will be entered into a prize draw and the winner gets a three-month premium all-inclusive membership to Oldham Community Leisure (OCL). You can read all the details here
There’s no limit on how many times you can enter this competition because we want everyone to pick up as many pieces of rubbish as possible.
This campaign isn’t finishing at the end of October either – we’re committed to #1PieceofRubbish for the long haul.
If, like me, you love where you live then you’ll hate litter too – please get involved and do #yourbit.