Clever signs reduce litter
13 September 2011
An anti-litter campaign in Tadley, Hampshire is proving that people do really love where they live if the right signage is on show.
Emotionally gripping signs saying 'Don't Rubbish Your Country' are credited with reducing litter on Tadley Common by more than 50%, follwing a recent experiment.
The pilot was conducted at Tadley Common across the summer of 2011 after Tadley Town Councillor Nigel Quelch marshalled a group of volunteers to pick up litter, calling them the Friends of Tadley Common (FOTC, pronounced ‘Fotker’).
One of the Fotkers is Dr John Hart, a scientist, had the idea to conduct the test from one of his scientific journals.
He says: “When I heard of Councillor Quelch’s brilliant instigation of FOTC I saw the possibility of an experiment, based on a piece I had read in a scientific journal about getting people to behave differently by using emotionally engaging signs. So I came up with the injunction ‘Don’t Rubbish Your Country’ rather than the usual ‘Please don’t drop litter’ or ‘Take your litter home’.”
Councillor Quelch said : “Littering is painfully degrading, particularly as in the case of Tadley Common it involves a heathland Site of Special Scientific Interest, with friendly Dexter cattle for conservation grazing. I believe it makes a big difference to the way people feel about the place they live in if it is clean and litter free. I am thrilled with the results of our small experiment.”
A group of 17 Fotkers first cleared Tadley Common and adjacent areas in early July, filling 13.5 bin liners with rubbish. Four weeks later the group repeated the exercise, but focused only on the test site. This time the Fotkers gathered 5 sacks, an amount that shocked the group with its magnitude. The signs were then erected on the gates into the fenced area. Four weeks later just 2.25 bags-worth of rubbish had appeared, a drop of 55% compared with the previous four weeks.
Councillor Quelch notes that Tadley Common is just the start of his initiative: "Now we are planning to put up signs elsewhere in Tadley to see if we are able to reduce the rubbish problem in other parts of the town. Granted that we have already made life safer for the Dexter cattle, we’re feeling pretty bullish."
The experiment supports Recycle for Hampshire in their role as an ambassador partnership supporting the Love Where You Live campaign.