VIDEO: Oxford Street lights up to spark chewing gum behaviour change

The grey pavements of Europe's busiest shopping street have been transformed with brightly-coloured circles to highlight the amount of chewing gum that is dropped in an effort to stimulate behaviour change.

Every single piece of discarded chewing gum along Oxford Street was lit up with water-soluble fluorescent chalk by behavioural campaign organisation, Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG).

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy – a partner with CGAG on the project – said: “We are proud to be the only group that comes together to tackle the problem of chewing gum litter, and we are committed to supporting local authorities and BIDs to improve the quality of our public spaces, creating a cleaner and greener place to work and live.

“Since the campaign began 10 years ago, the aim has always been to raise awareness of chewing gum litter, whilst encouraging residents and shoppers in the local area to engage with the campaign so that we can create a sense of local pride. We have no doubt we can make this year’s campaign the most successful year yet.”

In its 10th year, the campaign sees representatives from the government charity Keep Britain Tidy work in Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to remove gum, making the streets cleaner and more attractive.

In 2014 the campaign led to a 38% decrease in gum litter across all participating areas including Birmingham, Northern Ireland, Lincolnshire, Scotland, Hampshire, Merseyside and Cambridge. Last year the amount of gum removed from West London alone covered 86,000 sq m, equivalent to 12 football pitches.

Chewing the facts

Launching the campaign, Waste Minister Rory Stewart said: “Spitting out or dropping chewing gum stains streets and is a blight on our towns and cities. Councils spend around £56m per year cleaning up the horrible mess it leaves and so I’m pleased to see efforts to help highlight the problem. I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s campaign.”

The campaign follows a similar behavioural trend from May’s ‘Neat Streets’ scheme which saw an array of emotive designs and sculptures placed throughout Westminster. The aim of the scheme was to promote litter awareness by incorporating giant cigarettes and voting ashtrays.

Earlier this year chewing gum heavyweights Wrigley backed a Litter Manifesto calling on the Government to tackle the UK’s £1bn litter problem.

Matt Mace

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