Do the right thing!

June 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Gardens, Health, Nature, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 1 Comment
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Part of the community park where we walked.

We went for a walk this morning after the rain cleared up a bit. We’ve pretty well walked most of the park now – yesterday morning we covered another section too, in the rain. The whole walking path, parkland and sporting complex, which cover a large area, are in the area in which we grew up. It all looks great – except for the rubbish.

We are dismayed by the amount of it all around the park.

We’ve had heavy rain the last few days, and the waterways, as well as the lawns, bushes and trees, are full of detritus. Many cans and bottles are strewn on the lawn along the sides of the walkways. There are also various food and sweet wrappings, and, in some places, even condoms.

Discarded bottles in the waterway.

So many people just don’t care. Too many of them don’t think about others or their surroundings. They believe that someone else will clean up after them because that’s how they have been brought up. And besides, surely that’s the groundsman’s job, to pick up litter!

Those who think that way should be put to work, cleaning up the whole community! But I don’t think they would like that somehow. I don’t think they would like it either if passers-by tossed their rubbish into their yard, expecting them to pick it up. And yet, that is essentially what they are doing themselves.

Many years ago, when my children were young, the Australian government ran an anti-litter campaign. It was called “Do the right thing”, and ran for several years in the 1970s. It was amazingly successful, and the amount of deposited litter reduced considerably.

Australian government logo for ‘Do the right thing’.

It seems that now though, we aren’t allowed to make our kids – or grown-ups for that matter – do anything they don’t want to do.

Also, instead of trying to increase awareness and improve the problem of littering, and to introduce a container deposit scheme, state and federal governments are backing down to the soft drink companies.

The return system has operated in the state of South Australia for over thirty years. Containers are returned to a recycling centre, and the deposit is paid back to them. I lived in S.A. for six years, and made very handy pocket money from returning empties.

Those who want to see how successful the system is just have to go there. S.A. is the cleanest state in the country. Just crossing the border into the other states graphically shows up the difference. As well as there being few discarded drink containers, even general rubbish is much less evident on roadsides and in public places. The message spreads!

But the big drink manufacturers and distributors, like Coca-Cola-Amatil, the biggest of them, are fighting the introduction of this system into other parts of Australia. They say that putting a five or ten cent levy on the cost of a drink will reduce consumption. What utter rot! Price rises may cut sales a little, but only for a very short time (look at the sales of alcohol and tobacco – levies and tax increases on those have made little difference in overall sales). And you get your money back if you return your drink containers – more if you collect and return the empties of those who can’t be bothered.

Instead of fighting it, big business should embrace it, and at least make a show of having an environmental conscience.

But will they? I doubt it!

Rant over, thanks!

 

(c) Linda Visman

Making Lists

March 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Writing | 8 Comments
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To-do lists, bucket lists, grocery lists, gift lists, wish lists, book lists, the list goes on…

I have lived-by-list ever since I began making grocery lists when I first married – my family knows, or can work out how long ago that was (Oh, all right, it was 43 years ago, but to a different fellow than the one I am married to now)!

Lists certainly are great motivators. You have to write the list first, of course. Then, when you look at the list – yes, you have to actually consult it – you may either choose a task from anywhere on it  or do the next one on the list. There is great satisfaction when you can tick off a completed. It makes you feel you have gotten somewhere – even if it wasn’t very far.

But lists have a greater power than that.

I find that having a list helps me to remember what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I must do.

When my five sons were young, I used lists to allocate tasks to those who had the time, the ability or inclination to do them (money provides the incentive there: no completed tasks for the week = no pocket money). I was on the list too., though I didn’t get any extra pocket money.

Lists can organise and prioritise your tasks, from lesser to most important, thus have a great impact on your choice of which tasks to take on at a particular time.

Even if a list is long, it can be broken up into separate lists for short, medium or long term, easy, difficult, or awaiting a time when everything else is in place so it can get done.

I make lists in my writing too – of characters, plot points, research items needed, topics to blog about, items submitted to the newsletter I publish for out writers’ group. I even make lists of inspirational, funny or otherwise appropriate quotes to use in my writing.

     My husband and I sometimes even find it difficult to get through a day now without our lists – the ones that tell us which medical appointments we have to attend (more of those than we’d like), bills that still need paying, what maintenance tasks need doing or completing, and when we need to meet people and attend engagements.

     While I may remember the items on my grocery shop list, I will almost invariably forget an appointment or commitment if I haven’t made a note of it.

     I have also found the making of lists to be a great way of re-cycling those bill-carrying envelopes that come in the mail, though they come less frequently now, when more and more bills are paid electronically.

    I have a pile of blank-backed envelopes tucked on a shelf corner in the pantry, and I use the backs of them to write my lists on. I also cut up printer paper scraps that I have double-side printed drafts and other temporary items onto. These sit on my desk. The way both piles stay at the same height convinces me that it will be some time before they run out.

     I really do want to avoid becoming obsessive about list-keeping, however. So, now and then, I will avoid looking at a list for a whole day. It must be working, because things still get done – just not always the things that were on my to-do list.

How important are lists to you? Can you manage without them, or are they an essential part of your life?

 

“I have always lived my life by making lists: lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen. Each day I work through these lists, and that sequence of calls propels me forward.” ~ Richard Branson

 

This blog post was inspired by my nephew. Here is, Pete Abela’s own blog post about lists.

 

© Linda Visman

22nd March 2012

Rubbish!

February 23, 2010 at 5:03 am | Posted in Social Responsibility | 1 Comment
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I am disgusted by the amount of rubbish that’s thrown from passing cars in almost every part of Australia that I’ve lived in or visited. It doesn’t matter whether in town or country, city or outback, there are very few places that are rubbish free. Some places are much worse than others, and some people are much worse than others too.

Have you noticed all the fast food rubbish everywhere? The paper bags and wrappers, cardboard, plastic and foam cartons and drink cups that are strewn along the sides of the streets and roads? An inordinate number of them seem to originate from a popular take-away place that has well-known golden arches. Is there a message there somewhere? You even find trash strewn under cars, or placed beside where they were parked – left there when the diners drove off. Almost always, there are adequate bins a few feet away.

The glass and plastic bottles that gleam in the grass along the verges and in the brush are almost always from drinks based on either alcohol or caffeine. You can almost guarantee it. The same glass bottles are the ones you find smashed along public footpaths and parks, shopping centres and hotels. Someone has to clean them up. The cost adds to our taxes. Is there another message here? Is it only the taxpayers who care?

Calling on a sense of social responsibility doesn’t seem to work with many people. They seem to be proud tossers. So the rubbish collects, until crews in and around some towns and council areas pick it up and dispose of it. The rest of the country remains a tip.

I think a great source of labour for the clean-up gangs could be reasonably fit people on the dole. Work to clean up the place and they might not be such tossers. They might even feel they’ve earned something rather than having it handed to them.

There is also a scheme that has been proven to reduce the amount of rubbish tossed out. A five-cent refund on drink cans and bottles, extended a few years ago to cardboard cartons, has operated for over 20 years in South Australia. The initial cost of a drink is five cents more, but it hasn’t harmed sales. People buy as many drinks per capita as they do in other states. When I lived there for a number of years, the refund I received added up to a reasonable amount of pocket money, the saving an added bonus.

The roadsides in S.A. testify to the scheme’s success. In all areas, except very close to the borders with other states, they are relatively free of discarded drink containers. The habit of saving refundable containers to take to a recycler to reclaim the refund, instead of tossing them out any old where, seems to have extended to other areas too. You don’t see very much fast food or general rubbish lying about. Certainly nowhere near the amount you see in New South Wales and other parts of the country.

I cannot understand why other states won’t even trial this great refund scheme. Peter Garrett, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, doesn’t want to introduce such a scheme nationally, either, saying it will disadvantage recyclers. What? Go to S.A., Mr Garrett.  Be open-minded, and see the difference the scheme makes.

© Linda Visman February 2010

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