The world’s most recognised logo, the ‘Tidyman’ was created in the early 70s by an unknown designer. One suggestion is that the Tidyman was first used by the American beer company, Budweiser, in the 1950s to encourage people not to litter.
Although redesigned recently by the Conran Design group, no matter how much taxpayers’ money has been pumped into refreshing the logo, I fear that the Tidyman is losing its appeal. The respect and status of the logo struggle to probe reaction in people’s minds because the extent of the litter is still widely visible on our streets today. It certainly is the case on my high street.
I live in a busy, diverse town called Kingsbury in north-west London, not too far from Wembley Stadium. Approximately 29,000 people live here. It’s a vibrant place to live and right on my doorstep, I have everything a consumer needs: Tesco, Aldi, Costa Coffee, Nandos, Iceland, Greggs and around 70 independent shops including Indian, Lebanese and Eastern European grocers and butchers.
I love where I live. But in recent years I have become increasingly concerned about the amount of litter on my street. Unwanted plastic bags and cigarette packaging in bushes and verges is a constant, ugly sight; Costa coffee cups rolling around on the pavement; beer cans outside the betting shops and under benches near bus stops; Greggs paper bags flying around in the wind. It is no surprise that our road sweepers cannot keep up with the amount of cleaning. Frankly, there is too much packaging created by brands with little consideration of how consumers will dispose of it.
So who is accountable? I would argue that it is the brands who need to take responsibility before the consumer.
In my view, the Tidyman logo is not influencing consumers enough to act responsibly. The logo is too small and barely visible on most products. Similarly, when the recycling logo came into action in 1970 endorsed by brands, encouraging us to recycle, today, there still seems to be a lot of products out there which you cannot recycle. Which really frustrates a conscientious consumer like me.
Costa Coffee recently removed the recycling logo from their cups and replaced it with the Tidyman logo to show their support towards improving the environment. Watch this.
Their partnership with Keep Britain Tidy was encouraging, but as a consumer, I would have loved it if this new change had grabbed my attention at my local Costa Coffee shop. After all, ‘good’ work needs recognising, especially in a busy, transient town like Kingsbury.
So here’s my big question, how can the Tidyman logo stick in people’s minds the next time they feel like dropping litter on the ground?
Big brands and brand managers do need to become the heroes and not the villains in the fight against litter. In 2011, the UK produced nearly 11m tonnes of packaging waste, yet companies still sell packaged, pre-peeled bananas, and it cost £858 million last year to clean England’s streets, which is counterproductive and wasteful.
Here are a few suggestions for brands to consider to create positive change:
• Brands need to make conscious efforts to reduce packaging on products by finding alternative ways of creating; something which allows consumers and shop owners to reuse or recycle more effectively; either back to the shops or at home.
• Identify problem towns struggling to Keep Britain Tidy through surveys and social media.
• Create an effective community campaign; reinvigorate the ‘love where you live’ message – partnering with community leaders, shop owners, store managers and local ambassadors to help resolve the issue of litter and too much packaging. For example, McDonald’s litter patrols walk almost 3,000 miles per week, every week – picking up litter. For this brand to be a good neighbour is a critical part of their business, and it is great to hear they are making a difference to local communities.
If any of my suggestions resonate with brand leaders, local government leaders and Keep Britain Tidy, we would love to collaborate and find better solutions that keep our streets free of litter.
Keep Britain Tidy’s ambassador, television presenter Kirstie Allsopp, said: ‘Being part of Love Where You Live is a chance for the big brands to become the heroes instead of the villains in the fight against litter.
By Preeti Nayee
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