MANY people are proud to be Gippslanders. The region is known for its crisp, natural scenery and clean living.
First published in the 10 July 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
But anyone getting off a train from Melbourne or further east will wonder if we have any pride at all when they are greeted by rubbish.
Granted, bins have been removed from stations in response to the terror threat level being hiked up, but even after a visitor has left the platform and ventured into one of our towns they will be followed by litter.
Bins at the Warragul station car park are overflowing, takeaway packaging patrols the footpaths (I even saw a Red Rooster cutlery pack kicking around William Square last week – the closest chain is in Morwell!) and collections of wrappers and bottles start colonies in leaf litter and unused spaces.
In Warragul, the empty space between EB Games, the rest of the post office complex and the public toilets acts like a fish trap for waste. Wind blows junk in, watched over by milkshake cups which have been shoved into wire infrastructure cages.
I was discussing the situation with one local at that site last month and, while we talked, one man entered the defacto courtyard, lit a smoke, and after a few puffs dropped it on the ground and left.
“Who’d blame him, the place is already a mess,” the local said.
“People have no pride in where they live.”
That may well be true, and with modern attitudes to rubbish being remarkably similar to Homer Simpson’s “Can’t Someone Else Do It?” sanitation commissioner slogan, the thankless task of keeping our towns tidy is left to our already financially stretched council. (Yes, your rates do pay for cleaning up litter.)
Empty shops may be an eyesore, but a run down town does not help those shops that are left. When a shopping centre an hour away offers a cleaner, more uplifting atmosphere, it’s understandable that some might prefer to shop at one.
Information on the effectiveness of town pride in boosting the local economy is difficult to find, but Land Policy Institute Director at Michigan State University in the United States Soji Adelaja has argued the modern economy makes place exceptionally important.
According to Adelaja, summarised by Project for Public Spaces, “keeping and attracting people is the most important strategy in this new economic landscape.” This includes effective service provision and quality of life.
So finding a bin to put your bottle in or picking up the newspaper you can see blowing around may well save you money on your rates and boost the economy.
The worst it can do is make the place look nicer.
“The Garbage Man can,” and so can you.
Where do you think the worst litter hotspots in Baw Baw are? Let us know below.
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