Clean up highlights a year-round problem | Opinion

Lithgow prides itself on its status as a regular Tidy Town Awards winner and justifiably so. 

Improvements to the town’s amenity, such as the recent addition of the playful sculptures along Burns Lane, have been welcomed by the community at large. 

Unfortunately, the region still has its share of rubbish. 

Volunteers hit our streets, our drains, our wilderness areas and our parks to collect rubbish and make our area a better place for everyone as part of the national Clean Up Australia effort. 

The efforts of these volunteers is commendable. It is not easy to convince yourself that getting up on a Sunday morning, donning rubber gloves and getting stuck in to a pile of rubbish is the world’s best idea. 

But the scale of the rubbish unearthed around town and in some of the less visible areas in the shire was surprising. 

The items found at Newnes was a collection which included burnt out car bodies alongside abandoned furniture and a huge amount of carelessly left goods, from food scraps to bottles and wrappers. 

The problem, in an area that is justifiably a favourite for visitors and locals alike, is such a pervasive one that an organiser of the clean up said they could have been there for days and still been finding rubbish. 

The response to Clean Up Australia Day is always good around the region, with groups such as the Scouts, and other organisations, including the Western Region 4WD Council, putting up their hand to help the effort. 

The effect of these clean up days is to highlight the problem, which the Newnes clean up in particular has done. 

The draw of these areas for visitors lies in their visual and natural amenity. The same can be said for our parks and gardens around our centres. 

The effort to maintain them must be a community one and one that is sustainable only through prevention. 

While burnt out cars and illegal dumping can be put down to a criminal element, the wider problem is a larger one of carelessness and littering. 

While that one piece of flyaway plastic may not seem worth chasing, pause and think about how that can be part of a bigger problem. 

Every single one of us letting go a single piece of plastic a day (or a bottle lid, cigarette butt, you get the idea), that’s up to 20,000 pieces being put into the environment. And that’s a scary number.