Travelling along the roads through rural Queensland there is such beauty and diversity in our landscapes, but on the approach to most regional towns travellers drive through a band of roadside litter comprised mostly of food and drink packaging.
This litter band encircles regional towns like Bundaberg, 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 school teacher Trish Garrad knows children observe this phenomenon and can be influenced to take positive action. “At school we encourage students to think about food packaging and the amount of rubbish created just in one lunchtime at school,” she said.
“Each year we conduct an audit of the contents of a single rubbish bin after lunch. The students separate the rubbish into categories and are always amazed at how much food wrappers and empty drink containers contribute to landfill.”
Year 4 student Hamish Haase remembers completing this rubbish audit with his classmates and he notices litter along the roadside on his daily commute to school. “I don’t understand why people would throw rubbish out their car window or leave it behind when they have a picnic at the beach,” he said. “When I have a snack in the car I just wrap up what’s left and keep it next to me until we get to a bin. It just isn’t a problem.”
Hamish is well aware of how litter can travel through the landscape and its impacts on the environment. “Litter looks messy and can choke or entangle animals,” he said. “Some litter, like broken bottles, can even damage cars or injure people, and it’s hard to clean up.”
Mrs Garrad said involvement in the Reef Guardian Schools program has a positive effect on young people as they make the connection between food packaging and the health of reef environments. “Litter moves through our waterways and drainage systems and eventually it is deposited into the ocean where it can have catastrophic impacts on the environment and marine life, such as turtles,” she said.
“At school we have a garden where we grow veggies that are used in the tuckshop and we have ‘munch and crunch’ time at first break where the students are encouraged to eat fruit and vegetables that are brought to school with no wrappers,” said Mrs Garrad. “The students collect organic waste at lunchtime for our compost and learn the importance of reducing the amount of rubbish that leaves the school each week.”
“Takeaway foods from towns and roadhouses are so convenient when travelling by car however the associated packaging has no place on the roadside,” said Mrs Garrad. “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!”
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.