Mum’s the Word: Why do you expect others to clean up your muck?

Rubbish dumped at Eunony Reserve. Picture: Stephen Mudd
Rubbish dumped at Eunony Reserve. Picture: Stephen Mudd

Keep Australia Beautiful, Clean Up Australia Day and Tidy Towns committees: There is a long list of events and committees devoted to reminding us to clean up our act.

The efforts of the thousands of people involved in these events and community groups is to be commended, but geez don’t you wish they were unnecessary?

Why do so many people think it’s acceptable to just ditch their rubbish and leave it for someone else to clean up?

Just this week, Wagga City Council has been awarded about $100,000 in grants to try to tackle illegal dumping.

That is $100,000 which won’t go to fixing roads or improving community services because council staff will have to spend the money trying to get people to clean up their own messes.

My colleague Stephen Mudd has this week been looking into this issue, and he sadly didn’t have to look very hard to find a look plenty to make us worry.

At the Eunony Reserve, he found burnt out cars, dumped mattresses, building waste, anonymous bags he elected not to open and general muck.

In less than five minutes, he reckons he found more than enough rubbish to fill a ute.

And that was just one location.

Within the city environs, he found random piles of unwanted household materials abandoned at sites around the city.

That this is unsightly is a given, but it’s also dangerous.

Those piles of unwanted tat are potentially a health hazard, definitely a tripping risk and probably a welcome home for vermin.

Look, I get it: Getting stuff to the tip can be a pain.

The Gregadoo Waste Management Centre is a long way out of town and if you’ve got a pile of stuff, a broken trampoline or an old sofa, it can mean borrowing a ute or hiring a truck and that’s expensive and complicated.

But so what? What happened to personal responsibility?

If you bring “stuff’ into your home, at some point you’re going to have to take it out again.

Perhaps the issue is also one of civic pride.

We have a great city here and dumping rubbish, like covering public landmarks with graffiti, just takes some of the shine off.

In a bid to get the message through, Wagga City Council is launching the 12-month trial, backed by a $62,500 grant, of a “Don’t Dump, it’s Dumb” campaign.

“The ‘Don’t Dump its Dumb’ campaign is funded with a $62,500 grant from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency as part of a statewide push to combat illegal kerbside dumping,”  environmental education officer Samantha Parsell has told The DA.

“Dumping rubbish or unwanted goods in reserves, along roadsides or anywhere that isn’t an approved rubbish or recycling centre is a fineable offence. Three areas in Kooringal, Tolland and Ashmont are identified as hotspots… well-known dumping sites for unwanted household goods including furniture, mattresses and clothes.”

Council also received a $39,095 grant from the EPA to target litter spilling out of uncovered loads travelling to the Gregadoo Waste Management Centre.

That these campaigns are necessary is heartbreaking.

Wagga is a great place to live and it is frustrating that the thoughtlessness, irresponsibility and disrespect of some residents mean their rubbish is having to be cleaned up by others.

Jody Lindbeck

jody.lindbeck@fairfaxmedia.com.au