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Monday, 31 March 2008

What a load of rubbish

By Darren Stones

"Not sure if your intent was to sound pompous and insulting, but if so, you were certainly successful."

Well, thank you Robyn Martin. A lovely way to begin a piece of correspondence to me in response to my Letter to the Editor which was published in the Cobar Age, Cobar Weekly and Nyngan Observer last week.

Robyn is obviously passionate about the litter problem along the Barrier Highway and went on to say: "So rather then telling us stuff we already know, write a letter about littering and send it to some city papers. Don’t just target particular towns like Cobar and Nyngan because littering is an Australian wide problem, not something that only happens out here."

True, it is a national problem, Robyn, but I didn’t target Cobar and Nyngan. I wrote about the litter problem along the Barrier Highway between Nyngan and Cobar. Frankly, the litter there is a disgrace, but who are the culprits responsible for it?

Robyn said her family take part in Clean Up Australia Day each year, along with business houses, the local mines, emergency service personnel and many other community members in the area.

Maybe Robyn Martin is being defensive because she’s interpreting my words as criticism of the clean up effort in her area. No, definitely not. Clean Up Australia Day is not a new phenomenon and neither is littering. If it was, why is the day lead by its founder Australian builder and solo yachtsman, Ian Kiernan, each year?

"A couple of years ago, my family picked up 90 big bags of bottles along 15 km of the Kidman Way. I reckon that it is not the red neck locals going for a little drive out along the highways and turfing their empties out the window," said Martin.

The Kidman Way: Photo by Darren Stones

"Most of the bottles I have picked up are not beer bottles, but Red Bull and Coke bottles.

"I am guessing the main culprits are travellers who are far from home and couldn’t give a rat’s about who lives outside their car window. They need a drink like Red Bull to stay awake," said Martin.

It’s difficult to identify litterbugs without catching them in the act and possibly sterner penalties and signage in certain locations is necessary.

Rural and outback roads are not places you expect to find rubbish bins, so it’s best if people retain their rubbish until reaching their destination and dispose of it in the appropriate manner.

Would you throw rubbish around in your own home and expect a stranger to come clean it up? Wake up Australia.

For more information on Clean Up Australia Day, check the website.

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Darren Stones