King's College London
GeographyofLitter_BehaviourData.xlsx (77.88 kB)

The Geography of Litter - Behaviour Observations

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posted on 2022-05-18, 15:37 authored by Randa Lindsey KachefRanda Lindsey Kachef

Despite a universal aversion to litter, it is predicted that 62% of the UK population actively drops litter (Keep Britain Tidy, 2013), yet only 20% of the population will admit to it (DEFRA, 2018). This raises the question that, if the public, academics and government officials are aware of litter, actively fighting it and employing best available science in their efforts, why does rubbish continue to accumulate in public spaces? To explore this, a series of covert behaviour observation studies were run to quantify methods of waste disposal in England. Data included within is raw output of observations where behaviours are categorised and coded. Code is available in the Metadata tab.


Hubbub Foundation UK, registered charity no. 1158700


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Collection method

Data were collected through convenience sampling, where behaviour was recorded when within view of an observer. Observations were collected in five sites in England. The sites were chosen by local participating councils who identified their most problematic areas in terms of littering. According to land type indices, all study sites were categorized as an areas of high intensity of use and were located centrally in their respective cities. Depending on the size of the study site, a team of between 2 to 4 observers collected data simultaneously. For each data collection session, observers were instructed to continuously canvass their sector for a period of two hours, remaining as discreet as possible and recording a series of metrics each time a littering or binning event was witnessed. Metrics were recorded on a templated form that included: general demographics (estimate age and gender), distance to closest bin, method of disposal and, when possible, item disposed.

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Randa Lindsey Kachef

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    Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy


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