Toxic Truth – The Don’t Be A Tosser Campaign Ramps Up To Reduce Littering Across Port Stephens

When we are out having fun, it is important that we leave nothing behind other than our footprints.

 

PORT Stephens Council is encouraging residents and visitors to take responsibility for their rubbish by putting it in a bin or taking it with them as part of a statewide Don’t be a Tosser! Campaign.

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The toxic truth is that litter is toxic to the environment.

Council’s Waste Management Coordinator Chris Cannard said, “Port Stephens is known for its incredible natural beauty — and we want to keep it that way.”

Port Stephens local Joanna Atherfold Finn sits on the Plastic Free Port Stephens committee and is Co- Author of the groundbreaking book Plastic Free.

She told News Of The Area, “One misconception is that plastic breaks down over time, but it just breaks up into smaller pieces that may end up in our waterways and be unwittingly ingested by birds and marine animals.

“There is also a lot of confusion around terms like degradable, biodegradable and compostable.

“People can think they are doing the right thing, but it’s important to read the fine print,” she said.

“The Don’t be a Tosser! campaign is a reminder that throwing your rubbish anywhere other than in a bin is unacceptable.

Mr Cannard went on to say, “More than $180 million a year is spent managing litter in NSW,” he said.

Landcare and other groups around Port Stephens spend hours volunteering year round, picking up after others while initiatives like Clean Up Australia Day and Sea Shelters annual dive around the Nelson Bay Marina make a significant impact on reducing litter in our environment in one day.

Mr Cannard said, “Cigarette butts continue to be by far the most littered item in NSW, making up 43% of all litter.

“During a recent local litter check in Nelson Bay, we uncovered over 480 cigarette butts in a 12 metre survey area alone.

“Across 20 sites at Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay, we found 1449 cigarette butts littered.

“These ultimately end up polluting our waterways, so it’s really important they go in the bin.

“It’s up to all of us to take responsibility for our litter and take a bit more pride in our place,” he said.

Lia Periera of Sea Shelter and Irukandji Shark and Ray Centre; winners of the Port Stephens 2021 Australia Day award for Environmental contribution to the region; said, “Cigarette butts and the leftover tobacco attached contain thousands of toxic chemicals and are extremely bad for fish.

“The smaller the waterway the worse the concentration of toxins, furthermore, if cigarette butts are consumed dry they can soak up the water in the bird’s stomach and swell up.

“We find so many cigarette buts in our clean ups, and it breaks my heart seeing people still to this day tossing them on the ground,” she said.

The Don’t be a Tosser! campaign is part of the NSW Government’s comprehensive anti-littering program.

It aims to change behaviours and reduce litter by sending a clear message that littering is unacceptable.

For more information visit epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/litter-and-illegal-dumping/epa-work-prevent-litter/dont-be-a-tosser.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

 

A search of the parkland adjacent to facilities at Little Beach this week found hundreds of cigarette butts, pieces of plastic and other waste. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

Cigarette butts at a table at Little Beach. Photo: Marian Sampson.

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