The European Litter Prevention Association

Swiss ambassadors unlock behaviour change

20 July 2017

If you happen to stroll through Bern, Geneva, Lausanne or Zürich this summer, you might come across or even be approached by emissaries in white caps and white T-shirts pushing futuristic-looking carts. These are IGSU’s ambassadors for litter free environments. Typically you will find them in public spaces that are prone to littering, starting frank and interactive conversations with those they come across about the challenge posed by litter, their own behaviour and the solutions they might recommend to prevent littering.

Face-to-face awareness raising – starting a conversation or even a debate – is a very effective way of “unfreezing, shifting and refreezing” consumers’ behaviour from a negative one to a positive one when it comes to littering; probably more so than the traditional unilateral campaign mediums such as leaflets, posters, TV ads and the like. That is the conclusion of an in-depth joint study on the topic by IGSU, the Swiss litter prevention organisation, and ETH Zürich, the science, technology and engineering university of Zürich. The Swiss ambassadors are seen as quite effective at reducing the incidence of littering and will continue to play a an integral part in IGSU’s litter prevention strategy.

Reaching consumers through traditional one-way campaign posters is still an effective way of preventing littering, of course, but the impact will vary in accordance with the message you choose. Indeed, a second study by the same authors found that the most effective way to discourage consumers from littering is by addressing the destructive impact of littering on the environment (64% reduction in littering), followed closely by using humour (58%). Though it is still better than no message at all, the least effective way is to be authoritative (25%).

Both studies are worth reading in their entirety for the behavioural insights they provide. For more information, please contacts IGSU: