LitterWatch

Wyndham LitterWatch was an environmental project initiated by Wyndham’s major environmental organisations (Western Region Environment Centre, Werribee River Association, and Western Melbourne Catchments Network) in partnership with the Crossroads Uniting Church, Melbourne Water and Wyndham City Council.

 

Purpose

The purpose of the project was to raise community awareness of the detrimental impacts of littering on our water ways and our general amenity and environment. The project set out to involve the whole community including business, government and educational organisations.

The LitterWatch program was formally launched by Tim Silverwood at the Civic Centre on Tuesday April 30 2013. This was considered to be very successful with 70 people in attendance and an entertaining program in a very comfortable, modern venue. See photo opposite - The LitterWatch monster meets Tim!

Raising awareness was achieved to a significant degree for participants and observers as witnessed by two thousand five hundred people hearing Tim Silverwood, including 14 out of 40 schools in Wyndham with 2400 students. See Tim in photo opposite at Heathdale Christian College on Mon 29 Apr 2013. As well, an estimated 2-3000 observers saw LitterWatch at Weerama and while interest from local newspapers was low, local newspapers still carried three short articles and two photos, which were distributed to most of Wyndham’s population. Some usage was made of email networks and Facebook pages. Greater participant numbers in LitterWatch activity at Weerama may be achieved by adopting a more sales like approach to an activity and placing activities in a more crowd friendly and accessible position. Other than partners, no other businesses or organisations were involved. It is suggested that organisations might have participated if offered incentives.

Focus

The primary focus was the prevention of littering, the opportunities for reducing, reusing and recycling and on the need to clean up where littering has occurred. This was highlighted by initiatives such as the ‘Take 3’ campaign with Tim Silverwood, the Walk against Waste to local politician’s offices with numbers of passersby acknowledging the walk, Clean up Wyndham day and school litter hot spots clean ups.

One initiative was to identify “litter hot spots” and to recruit nearby schools,scout groups, sporting clubs and other community organisations to take responsibility for monitoring these hot spots and assisting with clean ups wherever possible. These activities were carried out to a good degree by a significant number of participants, and Clean Up Australia Day (March 3rd) was used by some schools as their litter hot spot activity, even though the event was early in the year. Despite the fact that some schools that had Tim Silverwood visit did not complete or show evidence of their clean up, a good number took part. No other organisation or business assisted in this endeavour.

Other areas that were tackled included more effective education for the prevention of littering, concerted action to reduce packaging and a review of plastic bag and bottled water usage (major sources of litter and waterways contamination) in Wyndham. The making of the LitterWatch large bottle for displaying plastic bottles was a success. It was used at Weerama and at Wyndham Clean up Day and was an excellent visual icon, promoting these issues. It was felt that if LitterWatch enters Weerama again, it should do so only after the festival organisers accept suggestions of policy for the event, such as litter control, and plastic reduction or recycling. A similar community-wide policy and level of enforcement would also be of advantage.

Then a ‘Clean up Wyndham Day’ was held on Saturday May 4 2013 when only 20 participants took part, including kayaks and walkers. Eight metres or over two tonnes of litter and rubbish was collected in three hours, and the LitterWatch large bottle and signage was on display. (See photos below) Data on litter collected at the Clean up Wyndham Day is available, and it may be possible to improve on it by making it comparable to data collected in other activities elsewhere. It was felt that since Clean up Australia Day is accepted by the broader community as a March event, then the Clean up Wyndham Day may be better conducted in springtime.

The project’s educational program was a successful one, with over 2450 students from Year 3-9 seeing Tim Silverwood in 14 schools. The program was marketed from December 2012 until March 2013 to school email addresses and one mail out, but a number of teachers did not know of the program. A student requested session on litter in the Werribee river was held at Wyndham Central College (see photo below) on Mon 13 May 2013. Transfer of information from administration to teachers within schools was seen to be a problem. Numbers could be improved by adding more attractive facets, such as following up the program next year with initiatives such as taking the LitterWatch monster to school assemblies, and displaying the large bottle at the schools.

As a further indicator of success, the Wyndham City Council awarded the 2013 Wyndham Community Volunteer ‘Sustainability and Environment’ Award to a member of the group, in recognition of the project’s contribution to sustainability and the environment. The LitterWatch project team is very thankful for the financial and in-kind support of Melbourne Water and the City of Wyndham, and the support of the Crossroads Uniting Church, Western Melbourne Catchments Network, Western Region Environment Centre and Werribee River Association.

Thank you, LitterWatch team.

Click the attachment below to view the Final Report including Report on School Visits.

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