Having spent the last 6 months discovering every trail, pathway and opening between trees searching for a hidden world in my 5km bubble, I found more than I was looking for.
The semi-rural streets, in which I reside, have the big spoon drains and many unpaved roads. More often than not, the dance of manure and pine blossom permeates the breeze.
Street lights are few and far between and I’m sure Dan Andrews was thinking of my safety when he set my nightly curfew for 8 pm.
Rooster’s crow from dawn to dusk, goats bleat, cattle dogs bark, magpies warble, and the Yellow Tailed- Black cockatoo’s wreak havoc on the pinecones, littering the ground with shredded pieces below.
It’s a beautiful place to live.
The wind carries all the animal noises in a chorus of country hues and I assure you I have learnt to ignore that Rooster. The cockies having migrated from the east lost their homes to fires and other than treading on jagged pine cone bracts with my bare feet, fallen beneath the ravenous flock, I’m in awe as they take flight in large numbers.
I’ve always been aware of the beauty that befalls this place. I am drawn to the country life, having space to spread my own metaphorical wings. The resultant littering from the birds seeking food neither bothers me nor deters me from sharing my ‘country life’, sadly it is the humans of this area, or at least those who seek passage through the arterial roads that leave little care for it.
There is a principle of the trails that I educate and encourage my community to uphold;
Leave No Trace.
However, it is apparent that on my daily walks that not many share this attitude.
The drains are flooded with rubbish, straws that find their way into waterways and to the sea. Cans and bottle tossed from the windows of passing cars, now face masks line the paths, discarded without due care. Walks through local bushland tell the same story of discarded wrapper’s, drink bottles or dog poo wrapped neatly in plastic bags and hanging from trees.
When did we become such ruffians, reckless and abhorrently disregarding of the world in which we live? What thoughts cross the mind of those that 1. Disregard the signs and take their dogs into Wildlife sanctioned areas, and 2. Collect their waste; wrap them in a plastic bag hooking it onto the nearest tree branch and walk away?
I can only consider that they have no understanding, nor the respect to carry that doggy bag home and deposit responsibly in their own bins. Perhaps the lack of inclination to comprehend the consequence of their actions on the environment and wildlife in which we inhabit.
We all should. Our lives depend on it.
Leave No Trace is not only an empowered attitude to caring for the world in which we live; it is a principle of appreciation and respect for our natural and cultural heritage. It is responsible for outdoor adventures that consider flora and fauna when exploring and interacting with the world around us. To minimise the impact of our visits, to stick to the trails, to plan ahead and prepare, to discard of our waste (yes, human poop included) and respect wildlife.
Whilst these are the values and moral obligations I live and teach by for the Wilderness trails, these principles should and must be applied to our daily lives and for now, our 5km bubbles.
The rubbish that litters the streets like autumn foliage doesn’t biodegrade as the latter does. We have the responsibility as humans like our parents always said; to pick up after ourselves, consider what, how and why do things the way we do.
Review, Realign, Reinvest in a better version of self.
We have created a human problem. It requires a human solution.
Consider the 3 for the Sea Organisation; the simple notion that through education to inspire participation in caring for our planet. We are after all custodians in our short time earthside.
3 For the Sea ask that each time you are outside, that you;
‘Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere and you have made a difference.’
So, how can we make a difference? Start small
COLLECT and dispose of; grab a plastic bag, gloves and on your daily walks collect the rubbish you see. Even if it’s a 1km stretch outside your home. Do your bit and bin it.
STICK TO THE TRAILS; walking off the trails can impact not only the regeneration efforts but the wildlife that reside so close to our intruding steps.
DO NOT take you dogs into areas clearly marked. These are local national parks and woodlands that are designed to safeguard native wildlife that our urban sprawl has pushed into near excitation.
BIN it- simple but think of what and how you dispose of, importantly what products you buy.
REPURPOSE– what jar can you reuse for making marinates or home storage solutions.
PLAN & PROTECT- plan a hiking trip to reduce your rubbish that you carry out
HIKING onuses- if you’re hiking overnight and no toilet facilities, bury your poop. Dig a hole 15cm deep and poop in it then bury it. Doing this helps the local wildlife as not to leave a trace of your visit and deter the natives from moving into urban areas where they are at risk of harm
There are simple ways that each of us can attribute to a better way of living, a thoughtful approach that considers more than ourselves.
As I continue to explore the treasures that my 5km bubble holds, I’ll be taking my gloves, a bag and do my part to care for the world in which I live. To leave it better than I find it.
How do you play your part?