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    4 Myths about Waterway Cleanups (and how you can get involved) by NOOB Spearo

    December 12, 2019 5 min read

    4 Myths about Waterway Cleanups (and how you can get involved) by NOOB Spearo


    MYTH #1 There’s no rubbish there bro…..

    In the last 30 or so years Cleanup Australia has removed 350,000+ ute loads of rubbish from parks, waterways and other public places and while they have made a significant impact, there’s still plenty more rubbish out there.

    I chatted with Trevor Ketchion who recently started doing cleanups with the Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers.


    He says “If you don't look you don't see...

    ...With rubbish and litter, 95% of us just phase it out and that’s understandable, but when you start intentionally looking, it's amazing what you actually see. I joined Craig McNiven and a bunch of people to clean up part of the Tweed River and I thought ‘Oh yeah we’ll pick up a couple things and it won’t be that bad’ but when we got in the water I realized I had slightly underestimated the state of our waterways. We pulled out tonnage from an area that's literally only 100 square meters.”


    MYTH #2 I’ve got no time…..

    Thanks to guys like Craig and Trevor, getting involved is a matter of showing up for a few hours and you can find out about ad hoc events on the Rubbish Spearos Facebook pageor Cleanup Australia website. If you can make it for an hour or two, it’s all help and it’s also a great way to meet other spearos and get involved in something your children will see and replicate in the years to come.


    #Most of us have limited time so it’s not really a myth but you can see what I’m getting at.  


    I can’t make a difference…. 

    During the 2018 Cleanup Australia week an estimated 670,087 volunteers took to their local parks, playgrounds, waterways and roads to lend a hand. There are a group of people who give a shit and it’s getting bigger every year. 

    In just a few short hours, once or twice a year you can remove quite a bit of waste. In 2-3 hours Trevor piled up this kayak in the Tweed river and has become quite addicted to the process. He says it's even making him fitter for spearfishing which is a nice kicker for those of us who chase fish.

    Every little bit helps as rubbish like cigarette butts are highly toxic and take up to 5 years to break down even in salt water.


    I didn’t make the bloody mess so why should I clean it up?

    Cleaning up after a bunch of wankers does suck. You’ve got to keep it in mind that you are setting an example for others and it is seen (and appreciated).

    Every Australian is becoming increasingly aware of pollution and its effects to the environment and while not everyone is doing something about it, perceptions are changing and social pressure is bringing about a paradigm shift.


    So by now you might be asking “How do I get involved?”


    1. Join the Rubbish Spearos Facebook Group

    Rubbish Spearos is a group about cleaning up waterways and sharing your efforts! It's great for motivating spearos and others to take on regular cleanups in your area.

    Join the group here


    1. If you're local to SE Queensland, check out the Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers

    This friendly Spearfishing Club meets the First Thursday of every month at Palm Beach Currumbin Sports Club at 7pm.

    At meetings they plan future events including weekends away camping, dive charters, competitions and social gatherings.

    Contact the Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers via Facebook pageor contact Craig McNiven directly at craig@ecomist.com.au


    1. Find out more at CleanUp.org.au https://www.cleanup.org.au/ 

    Craig McNiven “Jump on to the Clean Up Australia Day website www.cleanup.org.au and follow the instructions. The main clean Up Australia Day event is in March and all local councils have got on board to take rubbish for free for that event.


    Unfortunately the rest of the year the council does charge to take rubbish in NSW, the council blames high state government charges.

    The thing that appeals to me the most about organising through the cleanup mob is they have public liability insurance and anyone can participate, this is a big advantage over the Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers insurance that only covers club members.

    The cleanup website sends the organiser bags, gloves, first aid kit,  sharps container if wanted and all the required paperwork and even some promotional posters. It takes about 2 weeks from registering the event to get the delivery.


    What tools do people need to bring to a cleanup event?

    The volunteers that register for the event on the website do get informed of what the safest footwear, clothing and sun protection. I found it was easy to take bins in my boat and it made handling large numbers of glass bottles much easier. The plastic bags supplied by cleanup work great but other divers find hessian bags better.


    Do you need to get permission from local government?

    I would suggest it is a good idea to make contact with local council waste and see if they are willing to help with rubbish disposal. They were very helpful for me and have even encouraged me to seek either community grants or even EPA grants. The council was very helpful with both of the events I have run.


    What's involved in coordinating the event on the day?

    The two events I have coordinated were very different. The first was Clean Up Australia Day and I had no idea how many people would show up. I knew I had 3 boats, 2 of those were mine. I did a quick brief and described where I wanted to focus our attention on, I also covered diver safety and boaties and diver responsibilities.

    We managed to keep the boats full and had some late starters and early finishers. I asked a friend if he could man a desk and get people to sign on and off, he was also our photographer. I was in contact with a reporter from the local newspaper and they ran the story as front page, I hoped that this would bring large numbers of people but it didn’t.

    The second time I organised a clean up it was very spontaneous. By this time Rubbish Spearos was getting a bit of a following and people were wanting another event. The Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers had a competition planned and the weather made the conditions offshore undiveable. I registered for an event on the cleanup website and knew I didn’t have time to get the full kit delivered to me. When I spoke to council I found out they would not cover the rubbish disposal.  Again I had to ask a mate to man a table and record how much rubbish each diver put in the skip. We filled the bin with over 1100kg of rubbish in about 3 hours.


    How do you find sponsors?

    I called a client of mine that owns A1, a Gold Coast skip bin business and asked for help, I was expecting to have to pay but they were happy to donate the bin and disposal probably worth about $150. Trevor managed to get some prizes from Adreno for the day and my business Ecomist supplied a couple of small prizes and a BBQ lunch. I guess with sponsorship there needs to be a win/win so the sponsor needs to get some good publicity in return for the cost of the goods supplied.


    Where can people find out more about Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers Spearfishing Club and Rubbish Removal Events?

    The Spearfishing Club meets the First Thursday of every month at Palm Beach Currumbin Sports Club at 7pm.

    We also have competitions scheduled almost every second week. At our meetings we plan future events including weekends away camping, dive charters and social gatherings. We are very inclusive and have trophies for A grade, B grade, veterans, ladies and juniors.


    We are contactable via our public Facebook page or people can contact me craig@ecomist.com.au