Australia, don’t rubbish it!
When is the last time any of you have taken a decent walk along a country road? We are now taking a frisk 6 kilometre walk almost daily. For us it was an eye opener, and not just from the experience of joy or the fitness angle. The “keep Australia Clean” is starting to slip again. This can only be seen when taking a walk along any road, but especially those country roads that one dreams about. You know the ones; no traffic or noise, just birds’ song and waving tree tops, the occasional tractor with the friendly farmer tipping his beanie or a soaring wedge tail eagle with prey.
We walk along just such a road, and have a choice of either side from our entrance gate. Some days, especially if it is cold, we turn left. This takes us through a pine forest for a kilometre or so and then through scribbly gums, ghost gums, argyle eucalypt, wattle trees and tea tree bushes. It all provides a lovely fragrance and as the road might just get a dozen or so cars per day, it is a lovely and peaceful walk. It runs steeply uphill and then down and past an old timber cottage called ‘Kymridge’. We are usually stared at by both sheep and cattle, with the occasional rabbit scurrying away and Milo, the Jack Russell, then straining maniacally at the leash. He is a killer.
Turning right on a sunny day, we walk through open country with views to die for. It goes downhill towards the Wollondilly River, which through the drought and as proof of climate change hasn’t flowed for years. All the ’real farmers’ around here have never known a period like this one. The fingerlings of the released rainbow trout have all died, but the black swans are still hanging on and this year even had some young ones. We can still hear the song of frogs and warbling of wattle birds. The white and black cockatoos persist in eating our fruit and gnaw the top of the trees, screeching defiantly. There is still hope!
The reason for this article is that, despite our area being relatively free from traffic and city pollution, the rubbish strewn about is awful. I just cannot understand why this is so. The walk has now prompted us to take a bag with us to fill with the discarded rubbish. There are those blue and green foil chips bags that originally held twelve smaller packets. The smaller corn, chicken, barbeque and ‘plain normal’ packets are also almost indestructible. The wind fills them up like balloons, but they are not festive. Then, there are some large wax coated big M coke containers with the straws still stuck through the lids. Of course, many bottles, beer, soft drinks, both plastic and glass and with those formidable large brown take away big M and white KFC bags, family sized, and still redolent of sad meals taken in great haste and with indifferent resentment. Also festooning from the barbed-wired fences, with glistening tears of morning frost, are those plastic shopping bags, just blowing listlessly.
The sheer volume of rubbish along this country road is nothing compared with that slung out on the highways. It is back to where it was many years ago. What is happening? Why have we reverted to throwing it out of the cars again. It can’t just be ‘others’ that are doing it. It must be us; even you and me. I feel terrible just chucking an apple core and make sure that no one drives behind. I watch the core bobbing about for a hundred metres or so before the distance takes it out of my view. Truth is; apart from apple core, I don’t chuck anything out. So, it must be you. Ok, it is not me and not even you, it is ‘them’.
Is it a revenge taken out on our lovely country? Are we so miserable that, at the moment of not being watched, we lower the window and chuck it out, relishing our satisfaction of getting ‘even’. Have our lives gone so badly wrong? Is the misery of loneliness, the drying up deep in our throats of all speech, the intolerable monotone passing of days, with unrelieved stilted and stolen years the culprit now? The choice of not chucking things out, surely is ingrained naturally and re-enforced by parents, schools. Why rubbish something so nice as our country and nature? At shopping malls, I notice mattresses getting dumped and shopping trolleys miles away from shops. It must be some hatred that finds relief in throwing out and defiling. A bit like rape really.
I wish a good psychologist could give a reasonable explanation for this sudden explosion of chucking rubbish out again. Perhaps it is a disorder that has reared its head, a bit like swine flu, popping up every ninety years or so. All of a sudden a compulsion, lowering the car window, and chuck out the 2 litre coke and the hamburger bag, out it goes. But do we feel better afterwards? We were doing so well and could go along our roads and highways that were spotless and clean. People must have heeded the campaign by Ian Kiernan, and since 1989, 5 million Australians have helped 155, 000 tonnes of rubbish being collected. It now seems that the ‘keep Australia clean’ needs to be given a bit of a hand again. Stow it. Don’t chuck it out. While we are at it. Public rubbish tips ought to be phased out. It is old fashioned to foster the idea, that one can go somewhere and dump unwanted goods and rubbish.
Perhaps we always thought our country to be so big that it would accommodate our rubbish, and even somehow re-claim it all through time and ravages of weather. Is our psyche wrong and do we need to change? Not just keep our own house clean but also our common shared house and garden. Let’s make this the ‘bloody best’ and the cleanest in the world. Our Australia.