Almost a year ago, we visited the Grassmarket in Edinburgh for the first time, a picturesque World Heritage Site square in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Along with our partners Keep Scotland Beautiful, we met local residents and businesses to learn more about the litter issues that affect the area and to begin to think about how the Neat Streets litter prevention campaign could help in this kind of setting.

The Neat Streets approach to tackling litter

This week we were back on the Grassmarket for the launch of the final report of Neat Streets which took place April-September 2016. A collaboration between Hubbub and Keep Scotland Beautiful, it tested some of the interventions from our Neat Streets Westminster pilot for the first time on the streets of Scotland. The first phase of the campaign aimed to increase civic pride, for example a community gallery of people who live and work on the street, and businesses packs distributed to local shops. Phase two involved increasing the visibility of existing bins, introducing voting ashtrays and voting litter bins. The third phase took place during the incredibly busy Edinburgh Festival, with interventions specifically targeting leaflet litter and night-time litter.


The difference it made

One of the standout successes was the brightened bins, which saw a 24% increase in use and the leaflet litter bin collected a third of a tonne of leaflets over 3 weeks. Lamppost wraps and voting ashtrays had an immediate short term impact on street litter, while the voting ashtray attracted considerable social media attention through a question relating to the best character from the film Trainspotting. The film’s cast, including Ewan McGregor, picked up on the campaign on social media and one Instagram post alone from MacGregor’s attracted 33,000 likes, spreading the campaign message far and wide. 

At the final celebration event we heard from Edinburgh City Council about what is perhaps the most important achievement of the campaign. The Council were very receptive to bringing Neat Streets to Edinburgh and saw the benefit of testing its approach with a view to scaling up any successes.

What's next?

With their #OurEdinburgh campaign, the Council have taken the core principles of Neat Streets - build community pride, encourage personal responsibility and communicate in a positive, upbeat tone - and run with them. The campaign has been a revelation; bins across Edinburgh have been brightened and usage has increased dramatically, and they have had huge traction on social media. #OurEdinburgh has now been adapted to fly tipping and other litter issues. Just as they were initially inspired by the Neat Streets approach, we are now learning just as much from them.

Can Neat Streets help you tackling littering?

This is at the heart of what Hubbub wants to achieve with Neat Streets - the creation of a replicable, scalable model which local authorities across the country can adapt and use to suit their own local needs. In 2017 we’ll be running a series of roadshows for local authorities to pass on some of the experience we’ve gained over the past two years and we hope to see many more local authorities following Edinburgh’s lead and creating engaging litter prevention campaigns that capture the imagination of local residents and change behaviour.

For more information on the roadshows, please contact us at [email protected]