A group of seven environmental volunteers cleaned up 40kg of rubbish from the streets of Wellsford in just one hour.
Organiser Jerusha Tucker says if just 50 of the town’s residents turned up to help at the next clean-up event, it could have an enormous impact.
She has started the Keep Wellsford Beautiful group on Facebook and hopes to hold clean-up days regularly on the third Sunday of every month, meeting for an hour at 9am.
Having seen first-hand the waste that the town is generating on the streets, the group has determined that Wellsford has a bit of a problem with rubbish at smoko time.
“The most common items we found were cigarette butts, pie wrappers and glad wrap from sandwiches,” Jerusha says.
“Even right next to the public bins, we must have picked up 50 cigarettes.”
Cigarette butts never break down and are one of the most important waste items to dispose of properly.
Jerusha hopes that as more people get involved with the clean-up days and residents take charge of cleaning up their town, more people will get the message about properly disposing waste.
“With this platform, we want to create a waste-conscious community,” she says.
Another environmental issue the group discovered was rubbish buried by the train tracks in Wellsford.
“Down by the tracks it’s disgusting. It’s like there was an old landfill there and they just planted bamboo over it.”
“I was shocked because all of that is breaking down and spreading micro plastics.”
She believes it is possible to have a zero-waste Wellsford if the community puts pressure on local retailers not to give customers trash.
“Even the sushi shop now uses cardboard for takeaways. It’s been amazing to see the transformation since the plastic bag ban came in.”
For the initial clean-up day, the group was supplied with hessian sacks from Rush Coffee for collecting rubbish and Cozy Coffee surprised them with cakes and drinks.
When they brought their sacks of trash to Mahurangi Wastebusters and explained they had collected it from the street, Wastebusters disposed of it for them for free.
Jerusha has a number of ideas for projects including community planting days, a communal garden and further clean ups.
She has a background in environmental management and is planning to collect statistics from the clean ups to create a waste profile for Wellsford.