If you’ve ever spotted yellow bin bags dotted along rural roads across NSW and Queensland and wondered where they came from, you’re not alone.
Driving past a series of bursting bin liners stuffed full of rubbish is becoming a common sight in communities along Australia’s east coast and its all thanks to one man’s selfless crusade in a bid to turn his life around.
Aydan Wyse has been on a solo mission after his life came crashing down around him two years ago.
“I had a bit of bad stuff happen... me and my ex-missus had a break-up and [other things],” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“The depression began setting in and I knew I needed to get myself back up.”
Mr Wyse decided to start exercising and took up running to take his mind off his woes.
As he ran along the rural roads of Clarence Valley on NSW’s north coast, he was taken aback by how much rubbish he spotted discarded on the roadside.
“I just started picking it all up and before too long people started pulling up and saying thank you.”
He was developing a new purpose in life and worried about what the damage a lengthy custody battle would do to his former partner and children, he packed up his life and headed out on the road.
“I started life again and I’ve been walking for two years since,” he said.
Two thousand kilometres and counting
Either hiking between towns or hitching a ride, Mr Wyse has now found himself in Far North Queensland in the town of Cairns – 2000km from his starting point.
During every stop he acquires several packs of his trademark yellow bin bags, which are often donated by supermarkets and small stores, and heads off along the town’s streets filling the bags with rubbish he can find before leaving them on the roadside for collection if a waste drop off isn’t nearby.
He says his project quickly spreads by word of mouth meaning the bags rarely sit on the roadside for long before Good Samaritans pick them up and dispose of them.
Mr Wyse has so far worked his magic in dozens of towns, most notably Evans Head, Ballina, Byron Bay, Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach.
He’s even headed inland and completed a cleanup in Alice Springs.
He estimates he has filled about 5000 bags over the last two years.
Mr Wyse said the response from locals has been overwhelming with the support they’ve given him.
“I don’t expect anything and I’m just happy to be here but every so often someone pulls up and asks me if I need a feed and a drink,” he said.
“It just blows you away that they think and care about you as well.”
Local businesses have been more than happy to support the 34-year-old’s mission and help wherever they can whether it be food or accomodation.
On Monday, a Cairns dentist even gave him a free teeth clean and checkup as a sign of their appreciation.
“One door shut for me but everyone else has opened another,” he said.
He now wants to use his Facebook page to grow his movement and head across the world collecting rubbish.
“I’m asking people who want to collect rubbish with me to take a photo of a bag of rubbish, post it to my page One Man’s Effort To Clean The Clarence and I’ll fly or walk to wherever you are to pick up the rest of the rubbish with you,” he said.
His Facebook page is full of praise from locals appreciative of his work across Australia.
“Great work and thank you so much for doing this and being such a positive inspiration!” one of the hundreds of comments read.
As he plans to expand his project, his next goal is to purchase a van so he can head further across the country while disposing of the bags himself. In a bid to raise funds for the vehicle he has set up a GoFundMe page.
A legacy for his kids
Mr Wyse told Yahoo News Australia he purposely chose yellow to catch residents’ attention and while it added “a bit of sunshine” into their lives it had a more important message.
“It’s trying to create that awareness for people to realise its not the council’s job to be picking up after us. It’s us as human beings who have thrown the rubbish and we need to stop doing it,” he said.
And while his new life goes from strength to strength, Mr Wyse revealed he has managed to build damaged relationships from his previous one.
“I never ditched by kids, my goal was to build a legacy for them,” he said.
“Now when the people who know me in my hometown see my kids instead of saying your dad is a deadbeat drunk, they say he’s a bloody legend which brings happy smiles.”
A special moment for Mr Wyse came two months ago when he was able to see his boys Ky and Kaan, aged 6 and 2, for the first time in over a year, and is one of numerous positive encounters that add to his “wave”.
“People say to me ‘aren’t you sore day to day?’ but it’s not like that. I hike on a wave. It’ll be freezing cold but as soon as I catch that wave you forget about everything else and right now I’m just surfing the wave.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.