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New research shows NSW knows there’s no excuse for littering

Jo lamble, Clinical Psychologist and Sharon Owens, Manager of Litter Prevention, NSW EPA. Image courtesy of NSW EPA

New research from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) shows that while the community knows littering is wrong, litterers are still making excuses for not putting their rubbish in the bin.

As part of the EPA’s Don’t be a Tosser! campaign, the community is being reminded that there is no excuse for littering. The central message of 2018’s campaign is If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you, and a research project was carried out across NSW to analyse the community’s opinions and behaviours when it comes to littering.

The new research showed that:

  • One in four people wouldn’t call someone a litterer if they only did it once a month
  • 78 per cent of respondents said they rarely or never litter, and 46 per cent believe most littering is done by just a few repeat offenders.

The Tosser! campaign has been spreading the litter prevention message since 2014.

2018’s Don’t be a Tosser! campaign includes new television commercials and print advertisements and points out that there is no valid excuse for littering, even if you just do it once.

EPA Litter Prevention Manager Sharon Owens said littering was a damaging but preventable environmental problem.

“Around 25,000 tonnes of litter are tossed in NSW each year, costing our community and the environment. Through the Don’t be a Tosser! campaign, we’re asking NSW residents to look at the excuses they use for littering,” Ms Owens said.

“The Don’t be a Tosser campaign will highlight that even if you litter just once or as a ‘one-off’, your rubbish ends up becoming part of a bigger litter problem.”

Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble explains there are reasons why litterers look to make excuses but that these excuses can be part of the bigger problem when it comes to changing behaviour.

“We all use excuses from time to time to rationalise our behaviour and allow ourselves to litter. But this behaviour has direct consequences on our environment,” Ms Lamble said.

“Making excuses lowers our sense of responsibility and most importantly, decreases the likelihood of positive change.

“If we continue to make excuses for our behaviour e.g. ‘It’s not a big deal; I only do it sometimes; there isn’t a bin etc’ the bad habit will continue. To break a habit, we need to be fully conscious of what we are doing and the consequences of that behaviour,” Ms Lamble said.

“Reducing littering is important for the health of the environment and of our communities. Everyone is responsible for their own litter and the best bit is that it is easy to do something about it if we all work together,” Ms Owens said.

To find out more about the Don’t be a Tosser! campaign, visit Don’t be a Tosser! website.

Source: NSW EPA

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