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Chip packets, cars, shopping trolleys and apple cores - litter comes in all shapes and sizes.
The invention of plastic and other types of packaging, the popularity of take away food and more time spent outdoors has increased the amount of litter that enters the environment.
Millions of Australians join Clean Up Australia every year and spend a day removing litter from their schools and communities. In 2010, 588,000 Clean Up Australia volunteers removed more than 15,560 tonnes of rubbish from 7,073 sites around the country.
Litter is mobile. Once released, it can stay in the environment for many years.
Did you know?
- Over 100,000 marine animals and birds are killed every year after swallowing or becoming entangled with plastic litter in the world's oceans.
- In 2000 a rare Bryde's whale was found dead near Cairns; its stomach was compacted with plastic sheets, bait bags, zip top bags and six square metres of supermarket bags.
- Plastic bags that blocked drains were partly responsible for severe flooding that caused the death of more than 1,000 people in the western Indian state of Maharashtra in 2005.
- Thousands of grassfires and bushfires are started every year as a result of smokers carelessly discarding butts.
The Gold Coast has over 10 million tourists visiting the region every year and a growing population, so it is essential that litter is reduced and its impact minimised.
Over 1200 public litter bins, holding eight to nine tonnes of rubbish, are emptied every day and approximately 31 cubic metres of litter is removed from Gold Coast beaches every week. Of course stopping people littering in the first place is the best way to reduce the impacts of rubbish on the environment.
Biodegradable doggie bags
Over 3,492,000 doggie bags are used on the Gold Coast every year. To minimise the threat to wildlife posed by plastic bags entering waterways, Council have trialled bags made from corn starch.
Because the bags are made from a plant product, bacteria and other animals can eat the bag, reducing the risk of other animals like turtles swallowing them. Under the right conditions the bags can break down in four to six weeks.
Most schools experience a litter problem at some time. However, litter is not something all schools have to put up with. A number of schools on the Gold Coast have developed simple and effective strategies to reduce litter and the school’s impact on the environment.
Robina State School has dramatically reduced the amount of litter in the school by creating eating areas in classrooms, stopping the creation of litter in outdoor areas. All students eat morning tea and lunch in their classroom before going out to play. The trial program has also saved water (no need to hose down eating areas) and reduced the amount of time cleaning and groundstaff have to spend cleaning up litter.
Coomera State School's Litter Busters Program has kept the school almost litter free for many years. Each class in the school is responsible for a certain area and each week the class with the cleanest area is awarded the Litter Guardians Gnome.
Mudgeeraba State School was awarded the Comalco Green and Healthy Schools Litter Buster Award in 2005. The award recognised the fantastic effort the school had made in planning and implementing a litter program, including regular litter audits (with the assistance of the Wipe Out Waste Program) and the decoration of previously dull litter bins to encourage correct disposal behaviour. The program has been co-ordinated by Year Seven students who formed a group called Stop the Rubbish.
If your school has an innovative litter program, please contact the Wipe Out Waste Program Coordinator on (07) 5581 6855 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear about your story.
Next page: News, events and competitions - - Updated on: Monday 28-Mar-11