For people living in cities and towns, rubbish removal is one of the many conveniences of life that we take for granted. We pop waste in our various bins and then wheel the bins out onto the road for the council trucks to pick up. But what about those who live remotely? Many of our reserve managers live hours away from the nearest town, and therefore hours away from any kind of rubbish removal service.
This World Environment Day the theme is #BeatPlasticPollution so we decided to ask some of our wonderful reserve managers how they tackle waste and keep the beautiful landscapes they have in their backyard free from rubbish.
For Tim Zwiersen at Boolcoomatta Reserve, Adnyamathanha & Wilyakali Country, in South Australia beating plastic pollution is all about collecting waste and then driving to the nearest town, Broken Hill across the border in New South Wales.
"We attempt to recycle as much as we can at Boolcoomatta," says Tim. "Food scraps are either composted in bins or given to the chooks, waste such as cardboard is taken into Broken Hill for recycling, and we ask anyone coming to reserve in their own vehicle to take their waste with them, as recycling is better accommodated in the larger cities”
Over in Western Australia at Charles Darwin Reserve on Badimaya Country, Reserve Manager Jessica Stingemore has a similar approach to Tim: what can’t be recycled or repurposed, needs to be removed.
“We use refillable cleaning products and green cleaning equipment, plus Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. We also ensure any items from research projects are taken away at the end,” says Jessica.
Karen and Wayne Lawrence at Bon Bon Station Reserve, 650 kilometres north-west of Adelaide, on Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara Country, have taken recycling and repurposing to the next level.
“Old baths, toilets and sinks are now garden beds. Broken fridges are now wicking beds!” says Karen. “We reuse jars to hold all the preserves and vegetables that come from our garden beds.”
“Although sometimes it takes a little more time as we stand helplessly with our rubbish in hand wondering which bin it goes into, we know we're doing the right thing, for our reserve, for our wildlife and for the planet.”
Waste, particularly plastic, is an unwelcome guest in our beautiful landscapes, and can pose a threat to the wildlife Bush Heritage staff work so hard to protect. This World Environment Day provides us with a reminder that our actions on waste make a difference. By rethinking our relationship with waste, we can preserve our unique environment, and ensure our protected areas remain beautiful for generations to come.