“Britain has become a world leader in Litter” – Bill Bryson

To think that the cost of scraping chewing gum from our pavements could have paid for increased policing (and maybe even prevented some of the rioting) is a sobering thought and when you break it all down £1B could have paid for:It’s a shame that Britain once famous for it’s iconic brands like Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Harrods, Typhoo tea and HP Sauce is now on its way to being the leaders in Litter.

If you haven’t noticed it so far, just take a look next time you leave your office or your home… have a glance at the filthy motorway verges, the plastic bags fluttering in the trees, the fast food wrappers lying in the gutter, plastic bottles scattered all over our parks and gum on our pavements.

Clean Up Britain (or CLUB as they like to be called) is group of individuals who’ve got together with one shared ambition – to rid this country of its rising tide of litter.

We need to make dropping litter as socially unacceptable as drink driving” – David Cameron

The cost of picking up litter every year is estimated to be in the region of £1B and at a time when economies are struggling it’s ridiculous to think we can afford to throw money down the drain – but that’s exactly what is happening.

  • Picking up litter cost Local Authorities nearly £1 billion in 2010 (CLUB national campaign)
  • The amount of litter dropped in Britain has increased by 500% since the 1960s (KBT)
  • An estimated 1.3m pieces of litter are dropped on Britain’s roads every weekend (KBT)
  • On average, men drop 3times as much litter as women (Symphony Environmental survey)
  • McDonald’s is the most littered fast food brand in England (KBT 2009)
  • Coca Cola accounts for nearly 5% of all litter (Litter Heroes survey)
  • 300,000 pieces of chewing gum were recently peeled off Oxford Street in London (KBT)
  • Removing chewing gum costs London £10m a year (KBT)

To think that the cost of scraping chewing gum from our pavements could have paid for increased policing (and maybe even prevented some of the rioting) is a sobering thought and when you break it all down £1B could have paid for:

  • 42,500 new police constables (starting salary £23,500)
  • 60,000 new nurses (starting salary £17,000)
  • 2,500,000 hospital beds (at £400 a day)
  • 5,000 libraries (£200,000 a year)
  • Nearly 300 million meals on wheels for pensioners (285,714,286 at £3.50)
  • Tuition fees for 111,111 students (tuition fees at £9,000)
  • 40 new secondary schools (£25 million to build)

So why am I blogging about Clean Up Britain you may ask?

The first reason is potential. It is both highly visible and totally preventable so it staggers me that the government funded ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign has been so ineffectual.

The second reason is it is something I feel very passionate about. It’s not often these days one feels national pride, but as an adopted ‘Londoner’ I too often feel ashamed by the state of our capital city with it’s littered sidewalks and parks.

And the third is because I believe CLUB are in a great position to really make this campaign count. That’s why The BSG have decided to get involve and offer CLUB our professional expertise to help them find corporate partners to actively support the campaign and in turn help CLUB make a difference to people’s lives in Britain.

To help CLUB change the attitudes and behaviours of the 48% of the British population who admit to dropping litter is a huge challenge and one the BSG is proud to be involved with” – Rod Connors.

As an ex-Marketing Director at Nike, Rod Connors and CLUB Founder-Director John Read, have embarked upon a mission to find corporate partners who are willing support a sustained and high profile campaign, to change the behaviour and attitudes of the many millions of men and women in Britain who drop litter.

To do this CLUB has to be able to mobilise grass-roots activists who are both passionate about spreading and prepared (like Jonathan) to go the extra mile to help clean up Britain.

During the London riots we saw how social media could be a powerful force for both good and bad – used to coordinate the looting and then to mobilise an army of civilians who came out in force the following morning to clean the streets.

What CLUB believe it that when communities of people are galvanised behind a powerful common goal, social media can be hugely powerful way of mobilising large sections of the population – and then anything is possible.

I’d love to hear how YOU think that CLUB really can make their Clean Up Britain message stick and how it can change people’s attitudes and behaviours towards litter:

  • What do you think of the campaign? Do you think that Clean Up Britain is something that people will really get behind? If not why not?
  • Do you have any thoughts about how we could unlock the power of social media? Do you have any examples of good causes who’ve used social media to brilliant effect to inspire us?
  • Are you’re interested in finding out more about opportunities to come on board as a CLUB partner? How can you help?

Please tweet me your thoughts @thebsg_danb or alternatively is you want to get involved then you can really help by:

  • Signing the People’s Pledge at http://www.cleanupbritain.org/
  • Sending john.read@cleanupbritain.org your photos of litter ‘blackspots’
  • Following @cleanupbritain on Twitter and tell whether you think it is fair to ask companies whose brands are constantly littered, to make a contribution to the costs of cleaning up litter?
  • Taking action yourself and set up or join a local ‘litter pick’ group. If you already belong to a local organisation, please tell them on Twitter, so they can put people in touch with you.

Thanks to @thebsg_rodc for the input and @jmacdonald for the blog that got me thinking.

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