Personal Action - putting the I in Action
Reducing litter is everyone's responsibility - on a personal level and as part of the Tasmanian community. Reporting litterers is a positive individual action to encourage others to 'do the right thing' and dispose of litter responsibly. There are also plenty of simple opportunities for each of us to minimise our impact on the environment and keep our State litter free by taking responsibility for the waste that we generate and preventing it from becoming litter. For an inspiring example about an individual taking action, look at this story.
Litter From Recycling and Rubbish Collections
Kerbside collections can result in rubbish accidentally being dropped in the street. If this is the case, collect what has been dropped to prevent it entering the stormwater system. If there is a large amount dropped, or it occurs regularly, contact your local council.
Cigarette Butt Litter
Cigarette butts may seem small, but with the number littered their impacts on our environment add up. Each butt contains the remnants of tobacco and paper and filter whilst the residue in the butts contains some very toxic and soluble chemicals. Butts travel through the stormwater system into our waterways and eventually into the sea where they can harm wildlife that mistake them for food.
Cigarette butts easily become litter and in urban environments it's not unusual to see huge numbers of cigarette butts discarded outside office buildings and at public transport stops. Dealing with cigarette butt litter through street cleaning regimes, installation of special butt bins and stormwater traps is costly for councils. Flicked butts are a significant cause of bushfires in the summer season.
Smokers can be responsible for their butts by using the special butt bins installed around local areas or by carrying and using a personal ashtray. With a personal ashtray there's always a bin at hand to place the butt. A variety of ashtrays are available. For more details and how to purchase visit:
Packaging And Litter - refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle
These days many things come wrapped and packaged for our safety or convenience. A growing population, a consumer society and the increase in one-use throw-away durable packaging all contribute to packaging as a major source of litter. Plastic in particular is a problem since not only is it a common material but it is a material that is designed to last.
The impacts of plastic litter, in particular plastic bags and plastic 6-packs, on both marine and land based animals is well known. To help reduce plastic items from becoming litter, spoiling the environment and maiming wildlife play your part by:
- disposing of plastic litter appropriately
- reusing plastic shopping bags or a reusable bag as a litter bag when you are out and about or for the car, and
- adopting the 'refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle' heirarchy.
Refuse plastic shopping bags if you are purchasing only a few items. Reuse plastic shopping bags or use your own cloth alternative instead. Leave plastic shopping bags at supermarkets for recycling. Better still become a discerning shopper and avoid excess packaging - check out how the item is packaged and choose the item with the least packaging or with packaging made from material that will break down easily or with packaging that can be recycled.
Chewing Gum - a sticky issue!
Chewing gum is very sticky. It will stick wherever it is dropped or placed and does not rot away. Gum litter is very difficult and expensive to remove - be it from clothes or footpaths. Also the methods used - solvents and steam cleaning - can have damaging effects on stormwater quality and in turn affect aquatic life in our waterways.
The solution is in your hands - wrap it and bin it. If there is no bin handy, wrap the gum and hold onto it until you pass a bin. Some chewing gum comes wrapped in paper which you can use to wrap your finished gum.
Leaving dog poo on streets, in parks and on beaches is smelly, unsightly and very unpleasant to step in! Dog poo is a serious litter issue with wide ranging impacts on amenity, health and the environment.
Dog faeces contain harmful bacteria and nutrients that pose a risk to human health. Dog droppings are also a significant contributor to pollution of our creeks and bays as they are washed into the stormwater system after rain.
Special bags are often provided in parks and designated dog-excercising areas for dog-owners to clean up their dog's waste and to dispose of it appropriately. In the absence of such facilities take a plastic bag or other suitable container to clean up after your dog.
Unfortunately this popular Tasmanian pastime, like many human activities today, is increasingly accompanied by the insidious flotsam and jetsam of modern life - litter.
Much of the litter in our coastal waters comes from our cities, washed into drains that flow to the ocean. However fishing litter left behind by persons fishing on the shore or from boats where the items are washed, blown or thrown overboard also contributes.
Monofilament fishing line is the most common form of fishing litter. However plastic shopping and garbage bags, bait bags, fishing hooks, packing tape, plastic rope, plastic six pack rings, rings from drink bottles and bait strips, bottles and cans are also commonly discarded items.
Fishing litter not only reduces the beauty and appeal of our waterways and beaches but can also harm the environment. Aquatic wildlife can mistake plastics and other litter such as cigarette butts for food. Eating litter disrupts their digestive functions, causting starvation from feeling full and poisoning from cigarette butts.
Hooks which are discarded and buried become uncovered by the wind, rain and the movement of tides. These are dangerous to both human and aquatic life. Aquatic animals, fish and birds can also become tangled in discarded litter such as fishing line and netting, and small fish can become trapped in cans and bottles.
So when you're fishing play your part in reducing and preventing litter by:
- being aware that plastics, such as bait bags and plastic shopping bags, and food wrappers can easily blow away overboard so be prepared with a container or strong garbage bag to store these items.
- if you are a smoker, carry and use a personal ashtray for your cigarette butts.
- collecting all fishing litter including hooks, sinkers, fishing line, bait bags and general rubbish such as food scraps, food containers, cans, bottles and plastic for safe disposal at home.
- picking up any litter you see in the water or on land and encouraging other people to pick up their own litter.
- report all sightings of animals, birds and fish that are entangled to Parks and Wildlife.