Hundreds of residents and students across the shire used the nation’s largest community-based environmental event to collect more than a tonne of discarded litter.
The rubbish was collected from a record 26 registered sites across the shire in March as part of national Clean Up Australia Day.
Council’s Sustainability Support Officer Lucinda Halbert said support from local schools was particularly encouraging.
“We had students from nine schools and an early childhood centre help tackle dumped rubbish for Schools Clean Up Day and use the opportunity to learn about problems caused by littering,” she said.
“The children from the Explorers Learning Academy Long Day Care Centre in Mittagong took the theme of the day further and enjoyed a plastic wrapper free lunch before starting their clean up.”
Other groups to join in included local Girl Guides, Scouts, the Mittagong Soccer Club as well as individual community groups, businesses and individuals at a further 12 sites.
“We’d like to thank everyone who came out on the day and who donated their time and energies in helping to rid our Shire of rubbish,” Ms Halbert said. “It’s great to see so much community support helping tackle anti-littering behaviour and working towards zero litter left in our public spaces.”
Ms Halbert said results from the day unearthed some surprising results.
“Some of the most common items collected on Clean Up Australia Day in the past years have typically been plastic drink bottles,” she said. “However with the introduction of the Return and Earn Container Deposit
Scheme this year, residents have already reported a drop in this type of litter ending up in our bushland.”
Ms Halbert said other items of rubbish were sometimes less obvious.
“This year we also collected decorations tied to park furniture and discarded party items left in playgrounds,” she said. “Some people may not immediately associate this as litter but it can still cause harm to our environment.”
Ms Halbert said that regardless of the origin, all litter posed similar risks.
“At the end of the day, when litter finds its way into our waterways it can have a hugely detrimental effect on our unique flora and fauna like our local platypus population.”
Ms Halbert said a few simple actions could help reduce waste.
“Keeping reusable food and drink containers handy and leaving a rubbish container in your car are just a few simple steps we can all take to reduce the risk of litter ending up on our roadsides,” she said. “It’s not that difficult to take your rubbish home with you.”