This week is Keep Australia Beautiful week and this year’s focus is on marine litter. The week aims to raise awareness of the simple things we all can do to reduce our impact on the environment and encourage action. In our daily lives we can all help to keep Australian waterways litter free.
Holidaying by water is one of the greatest things to do in Australia whether it’s the ocean, a river or lake and it’s up to everyone whether you live nearby or are travelling through an area, to think of the environment and the wildlife that relies on it and do the right thing.
Marine litter consists of a wide range of materials including plastic, metal, wood, rubber, glass and paper but is dominated by plastic which accounts for 80% of the items found on our beaches.
So in practical terms here are some things we do to help put an end to this waste.
Whether it’s from a jetty or a boat, remember to keep your rubbish secured so that whatever goes with you comes back and is disposed of properly. If you are on a jetty or in the water and see rubbish just pick it up and take it with you. It’s not that hard and no it’s not someone else’s problem. Tackle boxes and buckets can be used to bring rubbish back.
Walking on the beach:
Take a bucket or a rubbish bag and pick up little bits of rubbish you find along the way, unfortunately there usually is flotsam and jetsam washed up on beaches, especially after stormy days. You never know what souvenirs you may find along the way too. Oh and on that, please remember to take dog poo bags and clean up after your dog, no one wants to tread in it unsuspectingly.
If you are camping near rivers, make sure you keep all your rubbish secured and take out what you bring in. There is nothing worse than broken glass from bottles in the ashes of a campfire, take a cardboard box or crate and take the empties with you.
We carry toughened glass dishes and proper wine glasses in our caravan and avoid plastics, mainly because I don’t like to eat or drink from it, but when washing up water isn’t readily available or easy to spare if you’re free camping, we sometimes use paper plates that can be burnt after use in a campfire, or easily crushed down and put in the rubbish.
Recycle for Cash:
When you’re in South Australia a lot of bottles and cans have a 10c deposit on them, which means if you take them to a recycling depot you will get money back on returning them. If you don’t think that’s your thing, then most caravan parks have a separate bin or crate to put the empty deposit containers in and they, or a community group they support, will get the money. Believe me it adds up over time. Some community groups have their own collection bins too, we have deposited empties at scout groups and surf lifesaving clubs knowing that the money collected will go to good use.
Take your own shopping bags:
This is causing quite a stir in the eastern states at the moment but honestly it’s so simple to do when you get into the habit – no big deal. South Australia has been a leader in banning the lightweight, check out style plastic bag since 2009. Since then the staggering amount of almost 400 million less plastic bags would have been used.
Now we have reusable shopping bags that are in the car, at home by the back door before you leave, in the caravan and I even carry a couple of small folding bags in my handbag for the unexpected purchases. Bags that can be purchased from farmers markets that you visit are a great idea to keep in the caravan.
It seems funny that we make such a big deal about losing the use of the convenience of plastic bags on demand but it wasn’t that long ago, (my parents’ generation), that taking a string bag shopping or a wheeled trolley was the way to go. If you didn’t have anything, you’re groceries were paper bagged or boxed. Just a case of laziness that has crept in and it’s easy to retrain ourselves.
You’ve probably noticed that there is way too much plastic packaging for simple things like our fruit and veg. now. This is a perfect place to take you own bags, choose unwrapped items and do away with all the overwrapping.
I’m by no means ‘green’ enough when it comes to too much plastic but little changes become habits and then a way of life.
Let’s all do it for our waterways and oceans and Keep Australia Beautiful!