What a Load of Rubbish!

March 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Social Responsibility | 1 Comment
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Part of the Lake Macquarie shore: a small sandy beach where a creek enters the lake

  A couple of days ago, my husband and I went to Myuna Bay, just a kilometre or two further along the lake from where we live. It is a place where people come all the time to walk their dogs along the tracks that meander through the trees.

The tracks follow the lakeside as far as the cooling channel, a few hundred metres away. The channel was constructed from the coal-fired power station at Eraring. It is about a hundred metres long, and empties into the lake.

Overlooking the cooling channel near the power station

   We walked along a different track this time, and came out of the wetland bush just where the water gushes from the power station cooling area into the channel – which we hadn’t seen before. Because the water is always warm, there are lots of fish there.  

The cooling channel, looking towards where it enters the lake

  We then carried on to the outlet into the lake, where people – mostly men, often fish from the rocks that line it there. On this occasion three fishermen were trying their luck on the opposite side of the channel, and one on our side, closer to the lake

  The three on the other side were what I call ‘fishing louts’ who are the type to leave a mess behind them. Every second word they say is the f-word – and their words carried to us very clearly across the water. We had wanted to enjoy a spell of bird watching, sitting on some concrete steps that lead into the channel. But it was not to be a pleasant rest, and we cut it short.

  There were other things that also spoiled our enjoyment of what should have been a lovely area. Along the shore among the retaining rocks, we found the leavings of other fishermen: tangles of fishing line; discarded vodka-mix bottles and cans; empty plastic bait bags; a length of synthetic cord; and other non-perishable rubbish.

Some of the rubbish I collected

  I carried the collection of rubbish with us back to the lakeside park. Did I mention that all this rubbish was collected within an area no more than a hundred metres long and a couple of metres wide?

 At the park, I did what the original tossers should have done – I placed it in one of the many garbage bins that are provided for that purpose by the local Council. I then washed my hands at the tap, also provided by the council.

There are plenty of bins, but too many people don’t bother to use them

It was Clean up Australia Day here yesterday, and many groups get together to clear rubbish that builds up along roadsides and in public areas.

Do you have clean-up days?

Is there much rubbish/trash left around by tossers who don’t care?

How does your local Council or other civic organisation manage rubbish in public areas?

(c) Linda Visman

author of Ben’s Challenge

Dobell Park, Wangi Wangi, 28th January 2011

January 28, 2011 at 5:41 am | Posted in Social Responsibility | Leave a comment
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It was a national holiday two days ago. Many locals and some visitors came to Wangi’s Dobell Park to celebrate Australia Day. The day was filled with activities – children and adults of all ages playing cricket and throwing frisbees, swimming in the lake, picnicking – generally having a good time.

Today, I had to wait for a prescription to be filled by the chemist, so I wandered over to Dobell Park to sit at a picnic table and enjoy the lake view. Yesterday’s hot northerly had changed to a cooler southerly. Dobell Park is open to the south and gets its full effects. And the breeze today certainly had plenty to occupy itself with.

Forgive me while I make a list of what the wind is tossing about and what remains lying about on the grass and in the garden:

Empty beer stubbies and Coke bottles;

Fish-and-chip and hamburger wrappings and;

Plastic wrappers, water bottles, straws and caps;

A cardboard carton that had held a “slab” (a dozen bottles) of beer;

Soft drink cans and flavoured milk cartons; Empty cigarette packets and plastic food containers;

At one end of the park, an old pair of shoes and a single “croc” shoe.

Among all this detritus, what really got me were the paper plates and disposable plastic cups being tossed about by the wind – they were emblazoned with the Australian flag.

So, is this how we Australians demonstrate pride in our country, by turning a lovely lake-side park, named after a local Australian icon (Sir William Dobell)  into a rubbish tip? I am ashamed and disgusted.


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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