Littering fines in England have doubled

Councils across the country have been given the power to increase their local on-the-spot littering and graffiti fines to £150. This means the fines have almost doubled from the previous maximum fine amount of £80.

Collecting England’s litter costs the taxpayer almost £700m per year, so these fixed penalty fines go towards replenishing that cost for our local councils.

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Presence of ‘beacon’ litter causes more litter

A study conducted by Keep Britain Tidy’s Centre for Social Innovation has found that the presence of large and brightly coloured litter leads to further littering by others, as people feel it must be socially acceptable in the area they are in. The research also showed that if an area is free from this bold litter, it is less likely that people will litter there.

The research

The ‘Beacons of Litter’ social experiment was conducted in two locations: Stourbridge in the West Midlands and Stoke Newington in north-east London. Within each location, three areas were cleaned up; one area was kept clean, one had ‘beacon’ items planted in it (large/brightly coloured litter), and one had smaller items of litter planted in it, such as small pieces of paper and tissues.

All of the areas were then monitored for litter and human behaviour regarding litter, with observations in this study totalling 72 hours. The experiment was conducted six times within a two-week time period at each location.

Continue reading Presence of ‘beacon’ litter causes more litter

Claim your free community litter pick kit

Please note: this was a time-limited offer for the Yorkshire area only, and has now finished. Thank you for your interest.

Street cleansing costs UK taxpayers almost £1 billion per year in England alone, and that is just the monetary cost of litter; it also impacts upon community wellbeing and mental health, wildlife, local business, tourism, wildlife, and the environment. Furthermore, it encourages other anti-social behaviour.

Despite the best efforts of local councils, there are still many spots around Yorkshire (and further afield) where litter builds up – after all, 62% of people in England drop litter, although only 28% admit to it, and councils have a budget to work within. However, 57% of people in England feel that litter is a problem in their area. Is it an issue in your area?

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Dog mess: the nation’s most hated & dangerous litter

The Big Scoop campaign has kicked off this week; organised by Dog’s Trust and Keep Britain Tidy, this campaign aims to highlight how easy it is to scoop your dog’s poop, and appeals to dog owners to do just that. The Big Scoop will support local councils, and educate dog owners. A survey conducted recently in Cardiff showed that the general public dislike dog mess more than general litter or people smoking in public, making dog poo the nation’s biggest bugbear.

The UK is home to over 8 million canines, who produce over 1000 tonnes of waste between them every day – that weighs as much as 200 double-decker buses! Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if all of the mess was scooped up, but this is sadly far from the truth.

Alex Jackson, who is Head of Campaigns at Dogs Trust, says:

“Dog poo is still one of the biggest complaints received by local councils every year, with 81,000 complaints received from members of the public last year alone, so it’s important that everyone is aware of how simple disposing of dog mess can be.”

Owners who don’t scoop their dog’s poop are breaking the law, and face an £80 fine if caught. The problem is ‘if caught’; many irresponsible dog owners who don’t scoop, commit the act when nobody is about, or by cover of darkness, knowing they will get away with it.

But why do we dislike dog poo so much? And why should we clear it up straight away from our streets, paths, and parks? We explore the reasons below.

Continue reading Dog mess: the nation’s most hated & dangerous litter

Want a new bike or car? Check the British waterways!

It has been estimated that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. Whilst this may sound shocking to some, I imagine it is not a big surprise to the Canal and River Trust team who have been rolling out their huge restoration and repairs programme (worth £45m) recently, which has involved a four month long survey of litter. Even when not running this programme, the Trust spend an average of £1m per year on removing rubbish from British waterways; money which could, of course, be much better spent.

What has been found in our waterways?

Alongside the usual litter offenders, such as plastic packaging, bottles, cigarette butts, and plastic shopping bags, the Canal and River Trust have pulled the following items out of our waterways in recent years:

Continue reading Want a new bike or car? Check the British waterways!

Fast fashion & the destruction of developing countries

It’s a little known fact that us Brits wear just 70 per cent of the clothes that we have stored away in our wardrobes, which leaves us with a total of 1.7 billion unused items. On average, a consumer keeps their garments for three years, but even more shocking than this is the fact that something might be frequently worn in the first year, and then phased into the stockpile of unworn clothes later on. That is why the average British closet is so overstuffed: we don’t wear all of the clothes we own.

The spending habits of the average person in the West have changed dramatically over the last hundred or so years when it comes to buying clothing. Between 2002 and 2003, for example, people in the US spent, on average, four per cent of their income on clothes, whereas back between the years of 1934 and 1946, clothing used up 12 per cent of people’s incomes. The current average expenditure per item in the USA is $14.60. Don’t go thinking that we are all consuming less though. On average, just one person in the UK will produce 70 Kg of textiles waste per year – that is a lot of clothing. Cheap, fast fashion means we are spending less yet buying more.

So, what will happen after you clean out your closet? Continue reading Fast fashion & the destruction of developing countries

How to organise a local litter pick

If, like me, you get infuriated and uncomfortable about litter in areas you frequently pass, perhaps you would like to organise a litter pick to clear the area of rubbish and return it to its lovely, natural state. Planning a litter pick is a bit harder than it sounds, so below we have gathered some useful tips and created a step-by-step guide for you.

Choose a spot

Choosing a spot won’t be hard; the reason you want to organise a litter pick is probably because you keep walking or driving past an area that is inundated with rubbish. It might be some woodland, at the side of a canal, on farmland, or on a town centre street. It could be the street you live on!

Check to see if there is already a local group

This handy tool by LitterAction lets you search for litter picking groups in your area. You could also have a search on Google. If there is a group near to the spot you’re wanting to pick, get in touch with the group leader and see if they would be interested in picking the area you have chosen. If so, join them. If not, follow our guide below. Continue reading How to organise a local litter pick

What Can We Learn From Japan About Waste & Litter?

Whether you have visited Japan or not, you will have no doubt heard that Japan is perceived as a very neat and clean country. Visitors are often taken aback by the lack of litter – especially in cities, which conversely seem to have an absence of rubbish bins in which to place said litter. This article looks at how Japan reached this level of cleanliness, how it is maintained, if it is true of all of Japan, and what we can learn from this to tackle the UK’s litter problem.

Japan’s clean streets

Japan currently has a 77% recycling rate as a nation; compared to just 20% in the USA and around 36% in the UK. These figures alone show how committed to recycling Japan is, and this passion for waste management seems to pass over into litter too.

There are occasional road signs in Japan telling people to take their rubbish home with them, and that, it seems, is all that is required. There aren’t signs everywhere in public places, threatening fines. There are no huge anti-litter campaigns. People just take their waste home with them, and that’s that!

Japanese culture contributes greatly to this litter-free environment. The Japanese don’t really do ‘eating on the go’, which can contribute to a lot of litter in other countries. Alongside this, as a people, the Japanese generally have a large concern about what others think of them – because of this, they would not want to be seen in the street to be littering or not recycling.

Japan’s lack of street litter is particularly interesting and impressive, as residents have to pay to have home rubbish collected; they purchase designated bags for their waste, which they then have to take to a collection point. This combined with the lack of public bins would, in the UK, cause a huge litter problem I am sure!

World Cup 2014

After their team lost a World Cup football match against Argentina last summer, the Japanese fans made the news worldwide by cleaning up the Brazilian stadium before they left. This wasn’t an organised effort; this is simply what the Japanese do. It is a shame that it was so newsworthy, but it really was quite shocking behaviour, and entirely admirable. They collected all types of litter, from abandoned plastic bottles to tiny pieces of confetti.

Japan’s culture & the background of waste

Before the 20th century, Japanese culture focused on reuse, and very little waste was created. Many items were made from wood, and were built to last. When they broke, they were repaired. People collected scrap bits of paper littering roads, which was then turned into toilet paper.

During the 20th century, rapid economic growth led to mass production of disposable items. This huge change caused problems with waste levels, which in turn caused large environmental issues. Also, it was realised that Japan does not have a lot of room for landfill. Combined, this caused a change in thinking. Authorities pressed moral and environmental issues onto their people, and progress in recycling began.  Since the year 2000 in particular, the Japanese have been very conscious of waste and recycling. Laws have kept businesses up to date with recycling too.

Nowadays, Japanese school children are encouraged to clean up after themselves from a young age; they are put into teams and they clean up classrooms and hallways in their schools using a rota system. This instills morals regarding waste and litter from the very start.

The hidden Japanese litter problem

Despite all of the above information, I must admit that Japan isn’t perfect; litter does occur outside nightspots on a weekend, thanks to drunk salarymen, tourists and locals who don’t care about societal norms – although it is usually quickly cleared up. But some litter isn’t picked up, and it’s this litter that makes its way into Japan’s waterways and eventually, the sea.

Many of Japan’s beaches are littered with a mix of litter dropped on the sand by sunbathers, and litter washed up from the sea. Does this litter prove that the Japanese aren’t so well behaved regarding litter and recycling when nobody is watching?

What can the UK learn from Japan?

Unfortunately, many aspects of the Japanese approach to waste and litter management wouldn’t work in the UK. As mentioned above, if our councils charged us to collect our rubbish – and not even from our homes – there would be uproar. There would also be a dramatic increase in littering and fly-tipping. Cutting down on bins would have much the same effect.

Sadly, the cultural difference means Japan’s tactics aren’t very transferable. How nice it would be, however, if us Brits could take a leaf out of Japan’s book – dropping less litter and picking up the litter of others would be a great place to start.

Resources:

TheAlternative.in

YouTube.com

RocketNews24.com

Featured image credit: Pixabay