The sheer volume of it

Back from a camping holiday at Jervis Bay. Cave Beach camp site sits between an open beach and a brackish lagoon and yet, mysteriously, the birding was curiously lack lustre; it took me and a friend three days to get to fifty birds. While we did see the endangered bristlebird and a plenty  of southern emu wrens, I didn’t see a single white-faced heron, coot, moorhen, magpie-lark or any of the “boring” everyday birds that I see, well, every day down the creek. Weirdly, I missed them.

They were all there when I went down the creek on the weekend. And, as a pleasant surprise, I almost trod on a couple of brown quail in the gasworks – which makes me hopeful that my recent sighting of a feral cat down the creek was a one-off.

What wasn’t a one-off was the litter. At Cave Beach we picked up the usual open-beach detritus: a flipper with a busted ankle strap, the discarded wrapper from an Australia Day stubbie holder, a couple of glow tips – the kind that rock fishermen use for night angling. Back in Styx Creek though it was city rubbish: an endless flood of plastic drink bottles, polystyrene boxes, syringes (and a green Christmas bauble: yay!).

Here’s my dilemma. For some reason, if it’s a busted flipper or a glow tip at Cave Beach I’ll stoop to pick it up, carry it back to the camp site and bin it. If it’s a large, foam vegetable box or a bicycle helmet in Styx Creek I feel less inclined to lug it home, ditto the ten thousand Fanta bottles. I think it’s the sheer volume of the trash that somehow paralyses me. I could easily fill three wheelie bins with recycling rubbish and two with general trash tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Do I contact Council and ask them to park a few bins on Bates Street for my personal use? Or perhaps Hunter Water might do it? I know that HW has a scheme whereby they scoop the litter boom by the TAFE but that’s only once per quarter, or something equally ineffective.

I think I just need to drill down, think small and nibble at the edges. One small bagful per day is, at least, one less bagful in the ocean tomorrow. In the meantime, your suggestions gratefully accepted.

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6 Responses to The sheer volume of it

  1. Grant T says:

    Maybe join forces with these gyus somehow> http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Yes, good call Grant. I’ve been thinking about trying to organise something for Clean Up Australia day. It’s the other 364 days that are a problem! (Hmm. Just noticed that it’s a leap year in 2012 so that should read “It’s the other 365 days that are a problem!”.)

      • Grant T says:

        Hi Mark. I was thinking that they may also have some ideas about how to get the community behind, or pitch councils, for dealing with more regular problems like the Styx. Thinking out loud …

      • Mark MacLean says:

        Yes, I know where you’re coming from. Inspired by your original comment, I’ve sent a request to Clean Up Australia for ideas and help. It’s something that must happen every day in thousands of suburbs and so I’m sure you’re right; they’ll have good pointers. And thanks for the nudge: contacting CUA seems blindingly obvious but I needed that to tip me over from paralysis to action!

  2. Peter W Tait says:

    I think a structural response is in order Mark; Council needs to do the litter boom daily with feeds to recycling (even reuse) and land fill.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Given that Newcastle City Council recently announced that it won’t be doing roadside collections for bulky items any more, I think the chances of them actually increasing the collection of anything is very remote. But don’t worry: I just bought a new roll of black bin liners.

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