With great power comes great responsibility. So, said the late great Stan Lee. He was talking about SpiderMan of course, but he could just as easily have been talking about the power – and the responsibility – we all have to improve our world. Choosing not to litter might seem like a small step, but if all of us took that pledge it would have an enormous environmental impact. Our individual actions, taken at the collective level, really do have the power to change the world.
“We want people to become Litter Super Heroes, doing everything in their power to prevent littering,” explained La Vergne Lehmann, Executive Officer at Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group. “Our campaign, #bealittersuperhero, is a call to action that promotes the idea that we can all be a Litter Super Hero in our region.”
Image: Advertisement for the Little Super Heroes campaign
“Litter, along with illegal dumping is a big problem in the Grampians Central West region,” explained La Vergne. “The Litter Super Heroes program aims to spread a positive message, using a combination of face-to-face communication and social media. With funding from Sustainability Victoria, we focused initially on the Western Highway and other main roads where litter is an obvious problem along the road and at wayside stops.”
The program was launched by ABC Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis at the Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar in September 2017. Costa ran a live Facebook cross on his own page, reaching more than 2,500 people.
"Social media is a very powerful tool these days,” said La Vergne. “Litter Super Heroes has a Facebook and Instagram presence to provide a platform for spreading the message across the region.
"We have our Litter Super Hero cut-outs and social media frames that people can photograph themselves in and share via their social media with the hashtag #bealittersuperhero.
Image: Some little litter super heroes
“We revamped our community engagement trailer, the Little Green Wagon, with Litter Super Hero display panels. We handed out reusable car litter bags, reusable coffee cups, superhero masks and children’s activity pages. The car litter bags were particularly popular, as they tap into the current move away from single use plastic bags.”
Image: The revamped wagon
Image: Campaign goodies
The second part of the project is encouraging the community the put the Litterati App on their smartphone or tablet to record litter problems across the region in real time.
“Crowdsourcing this data collection will help us work out the location of litter hotspots and where we need to focus our campaign efforts,” added La Vergne.
“Raising the profile of litter issues in a positive way, rather than just telling people to stop littering, made it easier to broach this discussion,” said La Vergne. “The campaign received glowing feedback and was a finalist in the Tidy Towns Awards 2018.”
The campaign focus was to raise awareness rather than reduce littering, but the project team did see less littering and illegal dumping at the five hotspots over the year – possibly as a result of greater scrutiny and awareness in those areas.
They also measured a drop in littering of specific items, with 86% less used nappies, 18% less coffee cups and 35% less glass bottles. This would need to be measured over a longer timeframe to confirm this trend.
“We also noted that truck drivers would periodically clear out their truck litter, dumping it on the ground. This didn’t happen during the audits but at other times when we checked the sites.”
“We’re still going with the campaign, naming our super hero characters and giving them each a backstory, with help from the local community,” said La Vergne.
“We hope to hire some theatre students from Federation University to bring the characters to life for the Begonia Festival in March 2019.
“We are happy to share our graphics and social media approach with anyone looking to replicate the project. The more of us that pledge to become Litter Super Heroes, the better off we’ll all be.”
Contact La Vergne Lehmann, Executive Officer at Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group on 0419 303 856 or firstname.lastname@example.orgVisit the Litter Super Heroes Facebook page.