The ancient Forest of Dean is one of the jewels in the English countryside with a huge sense of local pride. Yet each year 250 tonnes of litter are removed from the forest costing local taxpayers more than £400,000.

In creating ‘Love Your Forest’ Hubbub spoke to over 40 community groups asking for ideas on how to stop littering, we heard a common refrain. Volunteers give up their weekends and leisure time day in and day out to pick up litter. They asked what could be done to stop people dropping litter in the first instance – saving a huge amount of time and allowing all that community goodwill to be focussed on more positive activities.

Over the next six months we will be seeking to answer their question using proven behaviour change techniques.

We realised that because of the rural setting the problem of litter is hidden from most people. We wanted to make people aware of forest litter. The result is the launch of the UK’s first litter shop. The shop features litter collected in the forest which has been cleaned, sorted and displayed. Local shoppers are being invited to see a creative piece of art and discover what has been found lurking in the woods. Amongst the more surprising items are a 33-year-old crisp packet (so old it is pre Gary Lineker) and a 40-year-old drinks bottles with cork stoppers.

        

The shop is the visual kick-start for interventions targeted at different audiences. There will be educational programmes seeking to stop student’s dropping litter on the route to school. These will include ‘Litter Angels’ which has been developed by Gordon Henderson MP and ‘Bin It’ supported by Wrigleys.

Communitrees are quirky wood sculptures of faces designed by local children that can be attached to trees throughout the forest with anti-littering messages and letting people know we are on the look out for those who litter. This campaign will be supported by further messaging targeted at laybys and roads where littering is prevalent.

Our research highlighted littering caused by leisure events in the forest such as sponsored bike rides and runs. We will create an interactive pop-up display that local community groups can use at these events persuading people to take rubbish home with them.

   

Finally we want to provide recognition for the volunteers who assiduously work on litter picks so will create ‘Honk if you Hate litter’ promotions enabling drivers to signal their support to people tidying the forest.

As with all Hubbub campaigns we will measure impact and give away results so that others can replicate the best bits. The campaign has been made possible with support from the main employer in the forest Lucozade Ribena Suntory. We will work with them to actively involve their employees and perhaps demonstrate that other large employers in rural settings can play a major role in supporting local communities in their efforts to fight litter.