Cleaned up, no butts about it
IF the street, park, beach or bus shelter near your place looks cleaner today, you can thank the gloved army involved in yesterday’s annual Clean Up Australia Day.
Participants in Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Casino and Kyogle beautified a handful of the 7070 official clean-up sites nationwide.
Michael McLean and about half a dozen of his mates did a sweep of the Lismore CBD and surrounds yesterday morning, including the banks of the Wilsons River behind Spinks Park, as well as near the library.
Mr McLean said it was mostly bottles and food wrappers that made up his group’s rubbish haul, although even those items were second to cigarette butts.
“We tried to get as many cigarette butts as we could, but there were thousands,” he said.
Stephen Metcalfe, who focused his attention outside Lismore Base Hospital, also said cigarette butts were enemy number one yesterday.
“I am a nurse there, and I am also a smoker and I have been saying for a long time that I would like to see all the cigarette butts picked up as there were literally thousands of them on the ground around the site.
Today was my big opportunity,” he said.
The prevalence of loose cigarette butts is by no means a Northern Rivers problem.
Figures from the Clean Up Australia organisation show that cigarette butts have been the number one rubbish item for the past 14 years.
But while there is still rubbish around, there is certainly a lot less than if there was no Clean Up Australia day.
Speaking to the Northern Star on arguably his busiest day of the year, Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan praised the efforts of Northern Rivers volunteers.
“They make a huge difference,” he said, pointing to the fact that clean up participants in the region were part of a nationwide group that had removed 255,000 tonnes of rubbish from the environment since the first national Clean Up Australia day in 1990.
Down at the Wyrallah Road blitz in Lismore, co-ordinator Louise Somerville agreed that the annual clean up was having a positive impact on the environment.
“There was a lot less rubbish this year than last year,” she said.
Volunteers have spent more than 24 million hours keeping Australia tidy in the 20 years the event has been running.