Behaviour change – the Holy Grail

At Christmas, the subject of behaviour change seems strangely appropriate. Jesus’s life mission was, after all, to change the behaviour of people on earth and to encourage them to lead morally better and more generous lives.

So it is with great joy that I read about a man who lives in the village of Aldbourne, just outside Swindon, who took it upon himself to change the behaviour of some young litterers in the village.

Tim Beattie is clearly a man who gets things done. The 52 year-old motor engineer noticed that one of the litter grot-spots in the village was the place where the young people congregated. He decided to go and talk to them and he asked them why they didn’t put their litter in the bin. They said that there wasn’t a bin there and when Tim pointed out that there was indeed a bin on the other side of the Square, the youngsters replied that it was too far away and it was overflowing.

Tim offered to hang a rubbish sack near the bin where the young people sat and to empty it every day if they agreed to use it. They did use it and a normal litter bin was moved to that spot. But litter soon started appearing on the ground again and so Tim Beattie went back to talk to the young people. The idea then transpired of having a litter bin that was a bit different and, after a bit of brainstorming, a Tardis theme was decided upon.

The youngsters helped Tim design and build the Tardis bin and he even fitted a solar-powered light on top of it. It is still at the early stages and so too early to tell if it has solved the problem. But Tim did comment that someone had already agreed to pay for a Dalek bin.

So – what a wonderful story. It does go to show that a little lateral thinking and gentle discussion with litterers can lead to an excellent and creative solution to achieving the Holy Grail of behaviour change. You may have heard about the introduction of talking bins in parts of London which, when you drop litter into them, elicit a piece of music or a response recorded by a celebrity. There are so many ways to approach and solve this problem – and hats off to Tim Beattie for his brilliant achievement.

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