Story & photos Eve Jeffery
On New Years Eve when millions of people across the world were making their annual stream of resolutions, local woman Simon Pauley was also looking toward 2013, a year she wanted to be full of positive changes where she actively gave back to her community.
Simone was born and bred in New Brighton and says that she walks the beach to North Wall. ‘My son and I often stop to pick up rubbish we find along the way and take it home to bin as there are few council bins provided near beach walkways. We go kayaking on the Brunswick River and pull rubbish out of the water and bin this at home too.’
Simone says she has been picking up rubbish for years. ‘The first time I asked my son to do this, he was about four and we were at the playground at Brunswick, which was strewn with rubbish. He said “But it’s not my rubbish, Mum”. I replied, “I know, Saxon, but it is your planet”. Ever since then he’s been onboard and it has become second nature to him. We always pick up any litter we see on the beach.
Simone has been inspired by the work of others in recent weeks and feels that instead of blaming tourists for all the rubbish in Byron Shire or blaming Byron Shire Council it would make a difference if all the shire’s residents just stopped and picked up rubbish when they saw it and took it home to dispose of. ‘If we take it home, it keeps the bins in public spaces from overflowing and it also means we can recycle what we can. If you throw a plastic bottle into a waste bin in town, it goes straight into the landfill at the Myocum tip. We don’t have magic recycling faeries working there picking through the landfill and recycling it.’
Simone says she recently went for her usual beach walk to North Wall and came across lots of rubbish littered among the seaweed on the beach. ‘I picked up what I could and thought I’d better bring a recyclable bag tomorrow to pick up more. When I got home I thought “What if every resident of the shire took a bag out, say once a month, and picked up any rubbish they saw – from the beach, parks, town or just around their own streets. Surely this would make a huge difference.”’
Simone spoke to friends in New Brighton who thought it was a good idea and said they would join her and start at North Wall next Saturday. ‘I have started a Facebook page “Take It Away Now” and encourage all my friends to join me once a month on the third Saturday – Mullum Market day, easy to remember. I want to encourage more shire residents to join us once a month in actively picking up a bag, filling or partially filling it, and taking that bag home and recycling what rubbish you can and putting the rest in the bin. Anyone who lives in residential areas has a garbage collection, you pay to have the bins picked up in your rates or in rent, and it would help take the strain off public infrastructure as well.
Simone says her plan now is to get as many friends as possible involved via social media to adopt the ‘Take It Away Now’ message.
‘Instead of blaming others for rubbish or blaming the government for not providing enough bins we actively start to clean up our environment ourselves – now. If you’ve got a bag with you pop the rubbish in that; if you don’t, stick it in your pocket. We can always wash our bags or clothes out, we can’t wash our planet. We can have Take It Away Day at New Brighton or Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, anywhere you live.’
If you do want to get onboard for the monthly Take It Away Day, remember to use common sense. Everyone is responsible for their own health and safety. Do not pick up any hazardous rubbish (such as syringes, asbestos material, pesticides or chemicals). If you come across any hazardous rubbish, take note of where it is and give your local council a ring and report it to their environmental services division. If you live in Byron Shire and don’t want to phone the council, check out, contact Take It Away Now on Facebook and leave me a message. I’ll compile a list and send it on to Council for you.’
Simone says she would love to see Take It Away Now continue the great work the ‘Take 3’ initiative began, which is to take three pieces of rubbish away with you when you visit the beach, waterways or anywhere, but expand it into taking that rubbish home with you so we can recycle what you can and lessen the strain on public infrastructure. ‘I’ve committed to doing this (at least) once a month now. If you can’t join us this Saturday please consider joining our Take It Away Day next month on February 16.
You can find the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TakeItAwayNow. Check under the events tab for dates, times and locations of Take It Away Now cleanup days.