GALLERY: The Whitsundays is now 800kg cleaner
JUST over 800 kilograms of rubbish from across the Whitsundays was collected by volunteers today for Eco Barge Clean Seas' Clean Up Australia Day event.
More than 130 people showed up ready to get their hands dirty and spent their Sunday morning foraging through mangroves, scraping the sand and doing all they could to help reduce litter in the region.
Project coordinator of Eco Barge Clean Seas Fiona Broadbent said there were people picking up rubbish from Hydeaway Bay all the way to Shute Harbour and was blown away by the area's support.
"It's by far the biggest land-based clean up Eco Barge has run in Airlie so far," she said
"That's a really, really good vibe to think members of the community are willing to give up a few hours of their Sunday morning to come and give us a hand and keep the area clean and pretty."
The Eco Barge team sorted through the rubbish and noted there were less straws than the year before but still lots of single-use plastics that could be avoided.
Among the wackier items collected by community members included a basketball hoop, a bike, old identification cards, mobile phones and even a $50 note.
Eco Barge separated recyclable bottles and cans that could be deposited at the Containers for Change depots and Ms Broadbent looked forward to using these to see whether the program had made a big impact in the region.
"Last year we monitored (the number of bottles) and this year we hope to see a decrease in the amount of beverage containers found on the streets because of the Containers for Change scheme that's been launched," she said.
"We're hoping more of the community are recycling at home or thinking twice about what they do with their rubbish, especially their beverage containers, so hopefully the data will show we're seeing less."
Following the weigh in at Mantra Club Croc, volunteers were treated to a barbecue lunch and a hard-earned dip in the pool.
General manager of Mantra Club Croc Andrew Slavin said he was very proud to team up with Eco Barge to help keep the community clean.
"The turnout was huge … it's grown by 20 per cent from last year," he said.
"This year we had a group from the PCYC, a Whitsunday Cruising Car Club and there's a couple of different Rotary clubs, so the community groups have really come together this year.
"On the good side a lot of people said they went looking and they couldn't find stuff which is a good thing."
Mr Slavin also thanked Fishi, Bidfood, Whitsunday Foodservice, the Prickly Pineapple and Rewards Hospitality for donating food for the event.
Ms Broadbent said it was important to remember that clean-up efforts should continue throughout the year and hoped today's event inspired community members to keep up the good work and help preserve both land and marine environments.
"We hope that everyone that came and did their bit today and helped us out will think twice if they're walking down the street and see something, they'll pick it up, or they won't let anything loose in the back of their ute so it can fly out," she said.
"Ideally we want to see less and less rubbish and each clean-up we do we find less and less.
"We sit so close to the ocean in Airlie Beach that every bit of rubbish on the land predominantly usually ends up washed up or blown into the waterways and ends up impacting on marine life so what we can stop getting into the ocean the better."