Anti-gum littering campaign transforms Willesden Green tube into a wild woodland to highlight responsible chewing-gum disposal.
Today (6 September) a wild woodland forest has sprung up around London’s Willesden Green tube station. Mosses, ferns and toadstools engulf the station entrance, birch trees burst from pavements, and fallen logs cover the streets.
The Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) has created the UK’s first tube station surrounded by a pop up woodland, named – the :Gum Forest”, to raise awareness of responsible gum disposal.
Understanding Gum Littering, research conducted on behalf of Wrigley in 2016, discovered that people’s likelihood of dropping gum is influenced by perception of how natural a space is so CGAG hopes the appearance of the Gum Forest, a rural woodland in a contrasting urban space, will prompt people to change their attitude to dropping gum – no matter where they are.
Psychologist Emma Kenny explains: “There are many psychological reasons why people litter, for the most part it’s simply thoughtless behaviour, an individual’s incapacity to understand how such a seemingly small action can lead to unnecessary and needless environmental damage.
“Ironically, it is this disregard for our outside surroundings that in return affects our happiness and wellbeing. There is an abundance of research that evidences how our local environment impacts on our state of mind. The cleaner and more well-kept our surroundings, the calmer, more relaxed and in control we feel as people.
“Recognising that our surroundings can add to our happiness levels means that we can start to make choices about our behaviour that minimise the risk to our environment, leaving us with outdoor spaces that are consciously clean and pleasant places where we wish to spend our time”.
Selfish & Antisocial
According to the Local Environment Quality Survey for England, carried out by Keep Britain Tidy on behalf of Defra, 1 in 10 sites monitored in the England still have unacceptable levels of litter and, whilst there are many different types of littered items,1 chewing gum is part of the ongoing litter challenge, across the UK.
To counter this nationwide issue – Gum Forests – taking multiple, surprising and unexpected forms, will be popping-up across the country, orchestrated by participating councils, to encourage the whole nation to rethink how they treat their neighbourhoods.
These creative executions will be supported by an advertising campaign, funded by the chewing gum industry, that will be rolled out across 44 council areas throughout the next two months.
Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, says: “Dropping chewing gum on the street is a selfish and antisocial act that spoils streets up and down the country for everyone.
“This is why we have taken action by launching our new Litter Strategy and are supporting the development and testing of new ways to tackle rubbish through the new Litter Innovation Fund launched last month.
“Dropping chewing gum on the street is a selfish and antisocial act that spoils streets up and down the country for everyone…”
“I hope imaginative campaigns (like the Gum Forest by Chewing Gum Action Group) make the thoughtless minority who cause this problem think again and bin their chewing gum when they are finished.”
Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive at environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, a partner in CGAG, said: “The Chewing Gum Action Group’s aim is to reduce gum litter by working with councils and partners across the UK.
For over ten years CGAG have been committed to using creative ways to get people to bin their gum when they’ve finished chewing. From our experience, we know these campaigns work and really resonate with people.
The group’s 2016 campaign, for example, saw chewing gum litter reduce by an average of 36% in participating areas, demonstrating the impact CGAG’s campaign work can have on the UK’s littering behaviour.”
Though the forest will live at Willesden Green in Brent for just one day, Brent’s Gum Forest will live on, by being divided up between Brent’s community gardens.
Brent is one of 44 local authorities and partners from across the UK taking part in this year’s campaign, displaying campaign materials on poster sites, monitoring gum litter and running Gum Forest creative activations.