7000 tonne clean up

In 1989, an ‘average Australian bloke’, Ian Kiernan, had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard. That simple idea turned into a major national event – Clean Up Australia Day; which was held today.

By late this afternoon, this year’s Clean Up Australia Day had netted over 7,000 tonnes of trash. That’s an amazing result – and the folks who participated deserve a big pat on the back. It’s also a condemnation that we of the “lucky country” still have a long way to go in being responsible environmental stewards – the trash shouldn’t be there in the first place.

This year, beverage containers made up a whopping third of the total weight of trash! This is part of the reason bottled water is evil stuff.

Mr Kiernan believes a national recycling deposit scheme, like the one operating in our state of South Australia, could address the problem. He’s got a point there. While I lamented the state of our some of our roadsides in an earlier post; in that particular example, it was plastic bags rather than bottles and cans that were the problem.

When doing my own regular clean up rounds of local parklands, I did find my share of beverage containers – but if I hadn’t picked them up, someone else would have likely done so soon after given that they are worth cash. In fact, I believe they are going to be worth even more soon – 10 cents a pop. This is likely to boost up the cost of beverages, but I think it’s a worthwhile penalty – these things are a luxury, not a necessity.

Anyhow, back to Clean Up Australia Day – one of the very interesting aspects of the event is the major sponsor – McDonalds. It’s somewhat ironic I guess given McDonald’s track record; but rather than focus on that, it’s encouraging to see them helping to fix some of the problems they (or more accurately, us) create through their products. At least they don’t use those darned foam burger containers any more – mainly paper wrapping is used in this country. Also, after incredible consumer pressure, McDonald’s have stopped selling chicken fed on soya grown in deforested areas of the Amazon.

I used to consume more than my fair share of McDonalds, now I might have it once every six months if that, mostly due to the environmental issues and trying to cut down on red meat. That doesn’t mean I don’t still drool for a quarter pounder with cheese regularly. Hey, I’m only human :).

Learn more about Clean Up Australia Day.