A Sydney mother has called for people to take some responsibility after she saw overflowing bins and the street littered with rubbish in her local community.
Anita Horan, a plastic free produce campaigner, saw the litter outside the shops in Sydney’s north-west and shared a video of the scene to her Instagram.
“I had a free day today... Then this just happened...” she wrote on Instagram.
“Time for some social responsibility...”
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia Ms Horan said the amount of rubbish seen coming out of the bins and onto the street was not something that was common in the area.
“I think it was a combination of the bins being over-full and the weather,” she said.
“But what I really think is important is that people will say ‘well, the bin didn’t have a lid, or the birds took the rubbish out, or it was because it rained and it was windy’, but they’re just excuses.”
“The fact that it looked like that is our fault – we did it, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s our choice to live and love convenience.”
Among the rubbish is what looked to be a takeaway food bag, takeaway coffee cups and lids, along with other various containers and plastics.
“This is a result of our love for a convenient lifestyle,” Ms Horan lamented.
“This didn’t just happen because there was no cover on the [bin] lid, or because it was windy.”
While it is good to see people disposing of their rubbish in the bin, people trying to pile waste into an already full bin seemed “illogical” to Ms Horan.
Later on in the day, Ms Horan actually went back to the scene and saw the mess had been cleaned up, but she did spend a bit of time picking up all the other litter in the carpark.
“So many non-essential items and loads of hand wipes,” she wrote on Facebook.
Ms Horan said a lot of the rubbish she saw spilling out on to the footpath and blowing on to the road was “unnecessary”, she argues with takeaway for example, a lot of the time a plastic bag to carry the food isn’t always necessary.
Similarly, takeaway coffee lids, something else that may not always be necessary but we accept because it is given to us and it is convenient.
“If we were more diligent, none of that really needed to exist,” she said reflecting to the scene.
“We could have made other choices with minor personal sacrifice.”
Not only was the rubbish unsightly but the birds were picking at the bin and eating the rubbish, which was “horrible” for Ms Horan to see.
“We should minimise what we buy and dispose of carefully in our own bins because we know it will be safer there, and not just throw something on the top of full rubbish bins” Ms Horan said.
Just days ago she says came across a plastic bag about to go down to the drain, and raced to pick it up.
“I noticed a few days later there was another bag near the same drain,” she said, acknowledging a lot of plastic and rubbish washes into waterways and impacts sea life.
“You’re harming the native wildlife on land, but you’re also going to harm marine life and contribute to plastic pollution.
‘Rebelliousness’ needed to tackle plastic waste
Ms Horan, who has a sizeable platform where she passionately discusses plastic waste believes we are too keen to accept plastic, especially when it is the norm.
For example, instead of accepting a plastic bag while shopping, Ms Horan will bring her own, and goes out of her way not to use single-use plastic bags.
“It’s almost like people think it’s polite to accept a bag, but I think it’s good if we have just a little bit of rebelliousness in us and just go ‘you know what, I don’t actually need that bag, thank you but no’.”
Zero waste going backwards amid pandemic
In March this year, Ms Horan celebrated a small victory – Aldi eliminated produce bags next to their banana display. Something Ms Horan, an advocate for going ‘nude’ when sourcing produce in lieu of bagging it, was very pleased with.
Enter COVID-19 and everyone became more cautious of germs, which is by no means a bad thing, however, Ms Horan believes the pandemic has caused the movement to go backwards.
“So many of us were working really hard to allow and encourage stores to bring in reusable items – we take our coffee cups, we take our containers, and actually the tide was turning and we were doing really well, but now with COVID, there’s so much fear.”
While acknowledging the pandemic warranted legitimate fear, public fear about germs was heightened amid the health crisis and while she advocates for people to be aware about hygiene, Ms Horan says it’s no excuse to “turn our back” on plastic waste.
“Wash our hands and do all the hygienic things, but not allow that to be an excuse for us to live a completely disposable lifestyle,” Ms Horan said.
With takeaway food for example, Ms Horan suggests rejecting the plastic carry bag or cutlery while supporting local businesses amid the pandemic from home to minimise plastic.
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