Tidy, Clean and Green

“Millions of small actions by each human being; all the little things we do every day, can surely add up to vast changes over time”

 John Muir; Conservationist and ecologist.

The recent responses to the Keep Camelon and Tamfourhill, Tidy , clean and green campaign have been very positive , and its great to be able to thank the various local people who have come forward to volunteer and get involved with clearing up our local community. The recently published article in the Falkirk Herald has been a great boost to the campaign and has encouraged and motivated local people to take up the challenge , get their hands dirty and make a contribution to improving the quality of life for everybody.

I really don’t want to hear that dropping litter is not my responsibility or even worse that I cannot do anything about the litter problem , “what difference can I make ?”, well I refer to the John Muir Quote that headlines this article and in a similar way I would point out that  mighty glaciers are made up of individual snowflakes.

I will use this week’s community safety blog to describe the different activities that will be organised as part of the; Tidy, Clean & Green campaign.

Litter Picks:  These will be supported through the Clean Up Scotland national hub which will provide the equipment and resources to organise and run effective community litter picks. Different organisations, groups and schools will all be asked to contribute. I am keen to establish champions for different streets and areas and for individuals or small groups to take responsibility for specific localities, whether that’s a street a close or a park. I am also in discussion with Falkirk Council to agree how we can work closely together with their Waste Services Department. We need to encourage behavioural change and by organising a clean up we will be setting the example for others in the community and showing them that it really is possible to make a difference. We will be wearing the bright recycled tabards supplied by Keep Scotland Beautiful so we will be providing a high-profile nudge and reminder to people that littering will not be tolerated by the community.

Litter picking can be an enjoyable and social activity which benefits everyone in the community, including the natural environment.

Developing partnerships: Through contacting local groups, businesses, pubs, and shops we will be able to establish networks of support and the potential to gain sponsorship and greater publicity for our community-based campaign. An important partnership will be with Falkirk Council, but this will also have a very local dimension which will take in the schools, the leisure sector and our transport providers.

Greening and Growing: The tactics here will be about transforming grot spots into biodiverse areas, or green zones, this can include edible vegetable and herb borders, tasty spaces and pop up parks. These are themes I have touched upon in previous blogs and they will form a central aspect of this campaign. Once we have cleared up an area the best way to sustain that improvement is to reclaim it back for the community as a green leisure or growing space. This can also facilitate new links with local food banks and play a role in combating food poverty and assist with addressing health and wellbeing concerns. I am sure many residents would welcome more seating with some natural greenery around them when they are out going about their business or going for a walk. The potential in this is immense and off course it makes a positive contribution to the climate emergency.

A nice seat with relaxing surroundings

Surveys and information gathering; This takes us into the realms of Citizen Science and can be developed around outdoor learning programmes and encourages us to engage with the natural world around us. Through this approach we can gain insight into how nature works and how we can facilitate improvements for our wild spaces and make them more sustainable. This is more than tree hugging and can involve gathering data which will be useful to other agencies and conservation groups as well as waste management interests. Similarly we will be able to monitor our green areas for invasive species and therefore take action to get them removed or better managed. There is an explicit link here to the school curriculum and other areas of community learning and development. Also essential to this part of the campaign will be the reporting of extreme littering and fly-tipping and getting support from the Council and other agencies through them uplifting bulky items and potentially issue fines. Gathering data can also assist with identifying the most appropriate areas for positioning bins.

Creativity and making some Art: I am sure our colleagues at Camelon Arts will have plenty of groovy ideas for how we can upcycle, recycle, and build sculptures with some of the litter that is gathered. The only constraint in this department will be our imaginations and I look forward to making a load of rubbish art all over Camelon and Tamfourhill. I will also be encouraging younger people to design posters and flyers which provide positive anti littering messages and images and similarly I will be looking to support and develop a social media strategy which mirrors the campaigns activities and also provides positive reinforcing messages about why we must try and keep our community tidy, clean and green.

Promoting Nudge activities: A nudge is an intervention that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable manner, without forcing a particular action onto them. For example, to promote healthy eating, fruit could be placed at eye level in shops or sweets can be removed from the checkouts. Whilst it is not impossible to get the sweets, the emphasis and easiest action is to select the fruit. A nudge then makes the behaviour you want to promote the path of least resistance, without removing the individual’s ability to choose an alternative. Some examples could be to chalk footprints on the pavement showing people to their nearest bin, getting local businesses, charities, or the schools to design and sponsor a colourful bin to make it more obvious to passers-by. I will leave Flash mobs for a future blog, but these might appeal to the younger generation and especially those who regularly use tic-tock or indeed this may also appeal to some of the older hippy generation who are up for a bit of situationist prankster art.

I will conclude for now on that note of having fun through taking part. I will endeavour to make our litter picks an enjoyable experience, it can be creative and can be an outdoor learning activity, it can be this and a whole lot more.

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