Today is Clean Up Australia Day.
Why do we still need Clean Up Australia Day? Why are people still dumping their rubbish wherever they feel like it, without any concern for the people who live nearby, the animals who will inevitably be harmed, or our beautiful planet, which is becoming less and less beautiful with every piece of rubbish dropped?
There has been pressure from some people to get rid of plastic water bottles. (For some reason, plastic Coke bottles don’t seem to make as much mess.) Some agitate for a deposit system on plastic bottles. There has been pressure from some people to completely remove single-use plastic bags from supermarkets.
All of these suggestions may be helpful, as is spending one day a year cleaning up the mess we’ve made. However, in order to begin to return our beautiful planet to the pristine state in which we found it, we have to start in the hearts and minds of those who create the mess in the first place.
In order to create a change in those hearts and minds, however, we have to lead by example, and we have to elect leaders who do the same.
Some time ago, I rang our local council to ask if they could put a couple of new bins in places where I see rubbish dropped regularly (beside the carpark of the local swimming pool, and at the entrance to a nearby park), where we take our dog, Cassie, for a walk. They said they looked into it, and decided that there wasn’t enough rubbish there to warrant the cost of putting bins there and having to empty them.
What they failed to understand was that, on the day they went to observe the areas, someone had been there to pick up the rubbish before they saw it. What they also failed to understand was that the placement and emptying of bins are an investment in the future of our planet.
What they failed to understand was that we have to stop deciding everything based on dollars.
What example do our leaders set for our youth now?
That money is more important than the planet.
We see this same example at all levels of government, both here and overseas.
We see it in Australia, where our government supports coal-fired power, at the expense of sustainable solar power. We see it in America, at Standing Rock, where the Dakota Access Pipe Line has been pushed through, regardless of the risk to the water supply.
Dollars can’t bring species back from extinction. Dollars can’t refreeze the melting ice. Dollars can’t remove the oil from the water and the surrounding earth.
Each one of us can be an example to our youth, by picking up any rubbish we see on the ground, regardless of whether it is Clean Up Australia Day or not. We can show them pictures of animals who are adversely affected by our rubbish ( Marine animals are dying because of our plastic trash ), and the effect that our rubbish is having on the planet ( The Great Pacific Garbage Patch ). We can show them how to reduce their use of plastics.
We can also set them an example when we come to vote, by voting only for those representatives who set the planet above dollars in their priorities list.
It is good to know that some children are now learning to consider the consequences of their actions in relation to waste products, and in relation to picking up rubbish. I know it was a young man who proposed a means by which we may start to clean up the mess we have made of the oceans. Perhaps it is the young ones who can now set examples for us.
Here are some tips for reducing our use of plastics:
I have to admit that there is a lot more that I personally can do to reduce my contribution of plastic waste. What about you?