By-passers and residents are urged to litter picking in the sharing economy based and citizen-run practice of loaning litter picking sticks.
It is easier to take care of the local environment in the Anchor Bay area in Lahti, Finland. As Lahti Green Capital 2021 Project granted a grant to Anchor Residents Association (Ankkurin asukasyhdistys) for the litter collecting project and sharing economy service of loaning free of charge litter picking sticks. That led to an infographic collecting point stand with commercial litter pickers that are found in the bay area in Lahti since May 2020. Citizens can borrow sticks in two sizes, fitting for children and adults. During the summers, citizens from the Residents Association supply trash bags on the dispenser and make sure the condition of the pickers, as well as possible cleaning and maintenance of the stand.
Citizens on a walkabout can borrow from the stand a litter-picking stick and a trash bag on their walks. There is on one side of the infographic stand a background suitable for selfie images. Citizens are urged to use the hashtag #greencapital2021. Furthermore, a public Facebook group has been set up to inspire citizens and to raise interest in litter picking.
Thus, it is an everyday activity and shared responsibility to pick up litter. Anchor Residents Association Chairman and creator of the project Niko Niemi hopes for behavioural change and for citizens to stop littering and instead start to collectively care for maintaining a clean environment with no litter.
There are 4 stands, with 4-6 litter pickers per board and 10-20 trash bags per week. Grants from Lahti Green Capital 2021; 1 900 euro in 2020, and 5 000 euro in 2021. Runs on a voluntary basis from residents. The residential associations produced and outsourced the infographic stands.
Evidence of success
In 2020, with one stand, the project aimed to gain experience and enhance the operating model for possible expansion to other nearby residential areas. The feedback from citizens and municipalities was very positive. With the help of another grant from the Green Capital 2021, the practice expanded in summer 2021 with 3 additional stands in three other areas; Mukkula, Anttilanmäki and Kittelä, implemented the board in the summer of 2021. There has been some local and national press coverage.
No vandalism has happened other than a couple of litter sticks that have gone missing and some of the litter pickers do occasionally break down. Storms have been rough on the boards.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Anchor bay area has remained tidy with regular and continuous litter stick borrowers. On 21.5.2021, CECI lead partner from LAB, participated in the practice, by borrowing three litter pickers for an hour. There was not a lot of litter, however, in one hour approximately one 20-litre plastic bag was almost filled with litter, mainly from cigarette buds.
The municipality of Lahti offers environmental education equipment as 15 litter picking sticks free of charge to schools, kindergartens and other educational institutions in Lahti and nearby municipalities. Furthermore, municipalities urge neighbourhood cleaning in a form of traditional environmental and communal cleaning day held annually in the month of May. Schoolchildren contribute by cleaning their immediate surroundings collecting nearby litter. Cleanup days for schoolchildren have been held in the city of Lahti and Hollola for more than 30 years and more than 80,000 kg of garbage has been collected between 1997 and 2019.