Eco-artist helps to launch new anti-litter campaign

12 May 2016
Eco-artist helps to launch new anti-litter campaign

#Street2Sea 

View the Facebook gallery of the #Street2Sea art taking shape at Kings Cross, London

In partnership with Lidl, we have unveiled a unique artwork depicting the damage urban litter causes to our beaches and treasured marine wildlife, as part of a new campaign #Street2Sea aimed at young people.

As a new survey demonstrates that young people hold themselves primarily responsible for littering, we have joined forces with pioneering ‘clean art’ specialist ‘Moose’ (aka Paul Curtis) to raise awareness of how urban litter finds its way into our waterways and causes harm to the nation’s marine life and animals

Over the past few days Moose has brought the ocean with some of the most loved and recognisable creatures - fish, turtles and seabirds - into the heart of one of the capital’s busiest location, the world famous King’s Cross Railway Station.

In a world first, Moose has used observations of members of the public dropping litter in the street and recreated the rubbish within the image, systematically destroying the artwork and obliterating the marine wildlife, in a dramatic representation of the impact that litter has in the marine environment.

With 80% of marine litter originating from land and more than 2 million pieces of litter dropped on our streets every day, littering remains a significant and growing environmental issue within the UK.

We want the eye-catching installation to draw young people’s attention to the fact that littering is not in fact a victimless crime.

Every year numerous reports of marine wildlife injured or killed by litter are recorded. Our native marine wildlife including fish, seabirds, turtles and seals are all at risk with research showing that almost 700 species have been recorded coming into contact with man-made litter and debris, 17% of which are threatened or critically endangered. With statistics showing that up to 90% of seabirds and 60% of turtles have plastic in their stomachs causing death and injury, it’s clear that desperate action is required.

Meanwhile, a new survey, undertaken by Toluna for Keep Britain Tidy, showed that more than 60% of young people grow up in areas affected by litter and rubbish in the UK. It also found that whilst young people hold themselves predominantly responsible for littering, they were also ready to offer solutions including increasing the number of bins, introducing higher fines and returnable deposits on soft drinks bottles to discourage littering.

Currently, around £1bn of taxpayers’ money is spent cleaning Britain’s streets every year. Without the influx of litter, money could be used to provide much needed support to 33,000 nurses or more than 4,000 libraries. In the London borough of Camden – where the striking installation is taking place – the council spends an astonishing £8.36 million a year to keep the streets clean, as a result of the seven tonnes of litter amassed in the area every day.

As part of the new campaign, we will be asking young people to take photographs of litter in their neighbourhoods and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag #Street2Sea, along with ideas on how littering can be solved.

In addition, a timelapse video of the artwork created and ultimately destroyed by Moose will be incorporated into a new and engaging resource pack on the issue of littering for schools.

This initiative is part of Lidl UK’s wider CSR programme, and commitment to donate a minimum of £1m over a 12-month period with the proceeds from its single-use carrier bags to be split equally between Keep Britain Tidy and Lidl UK’s other ongoing charity partner CLIC Sargent.

Commenting at the unveiling of the installation, Moose said: "There’s a huge volume of people passing though the King’s Cross area, but the litter remains a constant, no matter how many times the waste collection vehicles pass by. It was my goal to create something beautiful and natural, and let people make their own minds up about the underlying message the image carries as they peer in closer.

"Although I am letting people create their own story within the imagery, using pollution as a medium always carries a message of its own. I’ve put a lot of love into creating the stencils, despite knowing that they would be trampled on and destroyed as we cover them with pieces of litter as they are being dropped. From my experience, people in London seem very desensitised to litter, and they don't relate their action of dropping litter to the harm it ultimately does to the environment. By bringing marine wildlife to the doorsteps of Londoners, I wanted to dramatise the real and lethal impact the urban community is having on hundreds of these innocent marine creatures.”

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “Littering is not a victimless crime and many young people who drop it in urban environments have little idea that it can migrate into waterways and seriously damage wildlife. Thanks to the support of Lidl UK we are once again able to work with another very talented and innovative artist, Moose, who has made it his mission to transform polluted areas into clean art, and is helping us to mobilise the British public in a very engaging way.”

Lidl UK’s CEO Ronny Gottschlich, said: “As one of Britain’s major grocery retailers, we are acutely conscious of our responsibilities to society and the environment. As proud supporters of Keep Britain Tidy, we are very pleased to be involved in an initiative that urges the nation and in particular the next generation to be mindful of the serious harm litter can cause to the natural world. In our commitment to creating ‘a better tomorrow’ we want to inspire people to play a part in protecting the country’s extremely valuable and irreplaceable natural wildlife.”