Highlighting and tackling forest litter in creative ways

In the UK, we have one unlikely thing in common - a passionate dislike of litter. A staggering 86% of people think littering is a disgusting habit, yet just 15% of us would actually confront someone who was littering to tell them that. It’s not just an issue for towns and cities, it can be found across country roads and ancient woodlands too, costing UK councils £682 million every year to clean up.

A survey of over 3,000 adults in the UK, commissioned by Hubbub in 2020, found that 43% of people had seen an increase in litter in their local green spaces since COVID arrived in the UK.

Since 2016 we’ve been working in with local partners in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire to trial creative ways to reduce litter and boost recycling. Every year 250 tonnes of rubbish is removed  costing local tax-payers more than £457,000. For every kilometre of road cleaned, three full black sacks of rubbish are collected. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.  

One theme that stood strong from the local community was their pride in the forest, so we created the umbrella campaign '#LoveYourForest'. 

As part of the campaign we've trialled: a pop-up litter shop displaying 33-year old litter collected from the forest floor, reminding people that litter can stick around for a very long time; 'Communitrees' around the forest to nudge people to take their litter home, and the 'Trashconverter'which invites members of the public to swap their trash for treats. We also created a litter-free picnic inspiration guide and schools assembly video, presented by project coordinator Sarah who is local to the Forest of Dean.

Mountain bikers

The Forest of Dean’s bike trails are hugely popular, with around 350,000 visits to their Cycle Centre every year.  The growing number of visitors is also leading to a rise in litter, especially plastic packaging from drink bottles and energy bars. To inspire bikers to join their movement to tackle the problem, #LoveYourForest has created an anti-pollution peloton and is working with World Mountain Biking Champion Katy Curd, the Forestry England team at Cannop Cycle Centre, Pedalabikeaway café and events, Dean Trail Volunteers and others. The campaign includes; a new communal chalkboard where riders can join professional bikers in signing a pledge for a litter free cycle, updated signage around the centre, shop and shuttle buses and a brand new art piece made from on old bike trailer which can be used for litter picks.

Recycle Reward Machines 

The latest innovation to be trialed as part of the #LoveYourForest initiative are two Recycle Reward Machines, installed in May 2021. The two new machines, aptly named Sir Recyclesalot and Buddy the Bottle Crusher by locals, are programmed to reward recyclers based on the volume of recyclable materials they deposit. 

Each empty can or bottle that gets recycled equates to one ticket which can then be collected and exchanged for a reward at the nearby Tourist Infomation centre. Prizes include a #LoveYourForest reusable waterbottleworth 15 tickets or a organic cotton tote bag worth 20 tickets.  

Join the Love Your Forest Facebook page

The difference made

So far we've collaborated with 18 schools and 38 local businesses to run the campaign, and over 11,000 people have taken part in the activities, with the numbers continuously on the rise as the campaign has developed. 

Discover all of our insights, learnings and the impact in our Impact reports below. 

Impact Report 2016-2018

Impact Report 2019

Impact Report 2020 - 2021 

How can you get involved?

Now we know what works, it’s time for the rest of the UK to make #LoveYourForest local. We’ve put together a handy inspiration guide and resource pack with everything you need to run your very own #LoveYourForest campaign. Whether you work for a local authority, school, community group, forest association, or you just want to make a positive impact on local litter, our guide and resources will take you through creating eye-catching installations, holding a workshop, running a litter picking event, and loads more.

To request a full #LoveYourForest pack please contact us at [email protected]

Download Love Your Forest Inspiration Guide