A couple of months ago we signed up for ‘Clean Up Australia’ day. I was sure this was something we wanted to be involved in. A lot of the conversations we have at home at the moment seem to be about saving or protecting animals, especially the marine variety in some way, shape or form (Samson’s particular specialisation, thanks Octonauts!). We talk about rubbish, recycling, littering and how we can prevent harm to ourselves and animals through showing thoughtfulness and respect to others and the environment. It was a no-brainer: lock us in, give us a bag, some gloves and we’ll be on the job!
So, the day finally rolled around. We all woke up, had our brekky, donned our best rags, and set off to our designated meeting point. That sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it?! Well, let me tell you how it really went! Shane and I had dared to schedule a night out away from the kids to celebrate Sydney’s biggest love fest, the night before. To say we were tired would be an understatement. It wasn’t so much this one late night that got us, it was a culmination of a lot of late nights in a row for both of us that resulted in stupid little spats of bickering and general impatients with our mostly uncooperative nearly 4 and 2 year olds. “Stop it, get out of my way”, “be quiet”, “come and get dressed”, “would you just eat your breakfast”, “keep your hands to yourself, your brother doesn’t like it”, “come and get dressed”, “stop running away”, “put your clothes on”, “eat the breakfast you requested, if you’re hungry”, “no, you can’t wear that” were all major features of our morning….you get the picture…painful setbacks at every turn, just to get out of the house!!! This is typical, by the way – just not how you want to be spending your Sunday morning (weekends are meant to be little islands of oasis in the often benal and repetitive week of parenting small children, aren’t they?).
Okay, so we finally make it to our ‘Clean Up Australia’ HQ (a car park nearby) despite the shenanigans we had just endured. Where are the others? After 5 minutes milling around and keeping an eye on other potential cleaners, I decide to investigate further. The event had been cancelled. WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! To be fair #1: I had been given the heads up from a friend who was also participating: I just didn’t read the message properly the night before, as I watched yet another loud colourful float dance and frolic past me at the parade. To be fair #2: the weather had been consistently unfriendly the week prior and nobody wants to walk around picking up rubbish in the rain, especially with small children in tow.
Well, as was the case, the weather was reasonable enough to be out and about and we managed to find other like-minded participants who had also not received the cancellation memo. There were 9 of us in total, including our two little eager planet warriors. We had brought our own gloves and one of our gorgeous party members (yes you Linda) went and got some rubbish bags from her apartment across the road for us to fill from the detritus riddled streets and parklands around our area. (Let me just mention here, we live in a really nice area – but like a lot of Sydney, parts of it are full of rubbish). We all formed our own little groups, going this way and that, with the intention to meet back in 1 hour.
We decided to do the loop around the car park and collected wrappers, coffee cups and the lots of the dreaded plastic we humans are in love with. We made our way up the main street, past a building site (they really should pick up their game – what a bad look for a major building company). I get it, they just throw their rubbish on the ground, as once they finish the build, they clean everything up. What they haven’t factored is this: rubbish is not static and does not behave like a good dog waiting for its owners next command. It blows about, with little regard for where it ends up. Where we live, this is likely to be the waterways.
My my locality of Homebush Bay is composed of a number of diverse eco systems. There are bushlands, rivers & creeks, wetlands and estuaries. They each have a beauty that is different from the next. Take a walk, or bike ride around and you will see a variety of plant and animal life. These simple things are really what we should be appreciating. Now I am by no means an expert, but I genuinely feel really sad for the animals that live in these areas choked by human debris. If you have children, maybe you have read Uno’s Garden?! It is a classic book written by iconic author/illustrator, Graham Base. Over 10 years since its original print, its environmental message of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ is still very relevent, if not even more so. It is a huge disappointment to see sooooo much rubbish in the areas so close to my home, and it doesn’t appear to let up. At every turn there is rubbish.
So what did we get out of our morning aside from a few squabbles and a cancelled event? We got this: the opportunity to do something good for our area, collected 2 x bags and 1 bucket full of rubbish, and in the least made it more aesthetically pleasing. More importantly, we alleviated the pressure the plants and animals come under from consumerist ideals (of which I too participate – I’m real about it) and thoughtless acts. We instilled an important notion in the hearts of our children, that to care for our environment, plants and animals, is to care for ourselves and those we love and are yet to love. I hope that we also set an example for those that might have seen us picking up trash. We did all this in just one hour. How cool is that?!
Maybe you’ll be inspired to do something similar?!
If you are not into picking rubbish up that’s ok – I’m sure there are other things you and your family can get into. A quick google search should come up with a list of things you can participate in…
Terms you might include are:
- Living sustainably
- Saving endangered animals (insert area)
- Being wildlife friendly
- Save our waterways
- Reducing rubbish
- Recycling near me
- Building a community garden
If your children go to school, they will be a good resource to use also. Your school might run an initiative that your family can help organise and engage in. Check out your local council websites – they are sure to have something to pique your interest. Your broader community networks might be worth looking into also; community Facebook pages often advertise events. Or if you like looking at beautiful pictures, get on instagram: search tags, people and places for your latest inspo.
There are many ways for you to participate in living a greener life. Get amongst it.