It’s August (how did that happen?) which means that we’re more than half way through For Fish's Sake, our campaign to stem the flow of litter into the Thames. Since starting at Hubbub I’ve worked on a lot of litter prevention projects (my friends call me the bin expert!) in a range of environments from the streets of London to the Forest of Dean. Most of our campaigns have relied, at least in part, on the fact that people can see the litter around them and therefore can understand the scale of the problem and see the impact on the environment when littering is reduced. That’s where the biggest challenge is for a marine litter campaign. Litter in the Thames is an invisible problem: we’ve spoken to rowers and houseboat dwellers who tell us how much it affects their lives, but the average commuter doesn’t seem to notice it. Through #FFSLDN, we’re aiming to help people connect with the river and make them care about the litter that they can’t see. Here are five ways that we’ve been doing it:

1) Show the effects

We may be apathetic about rivers, but most of us definitely do care about fish. If you don’t believe me, go watch Finding Nemo. Damage to living creatures pulls on the heartstrings more than environmental damage because it’s easier to empathise with. That’s why our campaign has been fish focused: first informing people that there are fish (as well as seals, dolphins and sea horses) living in the Thames and secondly that they are being affected by the litter.

2) Let people experience the issue for themselves

People respond better to an issue if you show rather than tell them about it. To help a group of students understand how much litter there was in the Thames, we sent them out in boats armed with fishing nets to see who could fish out the most litter. Through play and competition the children really got to grips with the issue and won’t forget that day in a hurry!

3) Share the love

People will care for an environment they love - think of the volunteer gardener tending to their local park. We felt that many Londoners had fallen out of love with the Thames. When you see it every day you can start to forget it’s there, so we wanted to reignite that spark. As humans we respond to people and their stories so we've been interviewing those who live, work and play on the river for a series of films and posters celebrating just how special it is, ultimately reminding people of why they love the Thames.



4) Be playful

We’ll be the first to admit that litter isn’t naturally exciting. We knew that to engage the public our campaign has to be really fun. Our most recent awareness raising stunt was set around the idea of what it would look like if the Thames fish got so annoyed by constant littering that they decided to get their revenge- the fish fight back! We designed a 3 meter wide water zorb to look like a giant fish chasing unsuspecting humans along the river and invited to public to take a turn inside. As you can see from the photos all the participants had a great time reconnecting with the river!

5) Interrupt behaviour

A lot of littering is just due to habit and people not thinking about what they are doing. That’s why we created interventions like grate art - they disrupt normal behaviour and catch someone just as they are at the point of littering. From what we’ve heard grate art is being well received and people are sharing the love on social media.

There’s still lots that we’re going to experiment with to find out what is the most successful way of stopping littering in the river so watch this space!

Wherever you live protect your local rivers by putting all your rubbish in the bin (even those fiddly little bits of plastic), recycling where possible or buying reusable alternatives to coffee cups and water bottles.