It’s no secret that tourists come to the Fraser Coast region to enjoy the natural beauty of our unique environment. So what would they think as they near their destination and see roadside litter comprised mostly of food and drink packaging?
This litter band encircles most regional towns like Maryborough and Hervey Bay, often peaking on the left hand side of the road in the 5 km zone on the outskirts of town in any direction. There are also hot spots observed where travellers congregate at key intersections or laybys.
Bin It — You know it’s right! Litter Ambassador and tourism operator Sue Reid said the Fraser Coast has a worldwide reputation as an eco-tourism destination and relies on visitors continuing to enjoy beautiful clean beaches and abundant wildlife.
“On board our whale watching boat we remind tourists to be careful not to allow items to go overboard and we have put in place eco-friendly practices like serving food on re-usable plates and encouraging tourists to bring their own re-usable water bottles rather than buying bottled water,” she said.
“We generally don’t see much floating debris in the Bay but whenever we do, we stop the boat and retrieve items such as crab pots that have floated away. This shows our visitors how important we think it is for the whales and other marine creatures to have a litter-free environment.”
Ms Reid said the no smoking rule on the boat means there are no cigarette butts being flicked overboard. “Cigarette butts thrown out of car windows are a major hazard to the environment,” she said. “On land they can start bushfires and they are so light that they easily float into waterways and out to sea where they are a choke hazard for a wide variety of animals. These items are small and easy to dispose of properly.”
The other main items seen on the side of the road are takeaway food wrappers and drink containers. These leave a negative impression on tourists and suggest to our visitors and young people that littering is acceptable. “If foods are consumed while driving along, simply bundle up the rubbish and keep it in the car until you reach home or the next convenient place to dispose of it correctly. It doesn’t take much to plan ahead to make sure you Bin It!” said Ms Reid.
Tourism is worth $200 million to the Fraser Coast economy and directly employs almost 3000 people. Ms Reid said her business and many others rely on the continued visitation of whales and tourists and keeping our towns, roads and beaches clean is vitally important.
The Taking the Lead on Litter! Project is supported by the Queensland Government’s Litter and Illegal Dumping Community and Industry Partnerships Program.
For more information about the BMRG’s Taking the Lead on Litter project, please contact Jacinta Jowett, Project Coordinator on (07) 4181 2999.