Butt littering behaviour (where, why and how people litter) and how to manage it differs according to the situation or 'context' in which it is happening.
For example, Butt FREE Solutions addressing butt littering in a city location would have a very different emphasis than when applied to littering behaviour in a beach setting.
In simple terms, context refers to the particular type of situation or area in which the butt littering is occurring.
It might be outside an office building, an outdoor dining area, a transport hub, an open street area or an alleyway. Perhaps it's a natural setting, such as a beach, park, river or forest – or a special event or occasion like a rock concert, a sporting game or festival. Then there are shopping centres, car parks, industrial estates and tertiary campuses.
With cigarette butt littering so widespread, focusing on particular contexts – where the biggest problems seem to be – helps to get the best results.
Establishing the context first makes it easier to accurately identify the target audience and the littering behaviour that needs to be addressed.
Asking lots of pertinent questions about the location is essential. The answers are extremely valuable in helping to develop clear messages that the audience will relate to. They also help to identify the types of messages that will work best in that particular context. They can even reveal actions that would make an immediate difference – cleaning of infrastructure, for example.
So, who will the main audience be in that particular context? Is it an area highly frequented by tourists, for example – say an art gallery – or is it only busy at lunchtime? Is it a high traffic area, such as a bustling main street or transport hub, with people constantly passing through? What aspects of the area might people value, or care about, that butt littering behaviour impacts upon?
Importantly, why are smokers littering in this area? Is it what people are doing at the time, how their peers dispose of their butts, or the environment they are in? Is it lack of infrastructure, or poor placement? Is infrastructure not being used for other reasons, such as lack of maintenance? Is it that garden beds and planter boxes present an easier option and the impacts are simply not understood?
Close questioning about the context will also help with tailoring the other four Butt FREE Solutions for maximum impact: Awareness, Education, Infrastructure and Enforcement.
The Butt FREE Toolkit explains the importance of context when planning a butt litter reduction project. It also provides examples of how different contexts require different approaches, such as Butt FREE City, Butt FREE Transport, Butt FREE Beach and Butt FREE Pubs n Clubs.