Figure 1: April versus June litter trends for various litter types around campus
Last month, the third litter clean-up day was held at La Trobe university. The focus of June’s clean-up day was on eating areas around campus. The litter-busting team set up in groups of 3 to clean up the Agora east, Agora west, SS, Donald Whitehead (DW), LIMS, Thomas Cherry building (TC) and the western lecture theatre (WLT) grounds.
Despite these common eating areas being the most susceptible to litter, to our pleasant surprise less litter was collected than in April’s clean-up. One major reason for this is probably that fewer students are present in June and hence less trash gets generated and tossed around campus. So as much as we all love to have students around, it really hurts our campus environmentally! Despite the overall decline in litter present due to the lower levels of students, there were still trends that repeated from April’s clean-up day through to June. Within each month, the highest cigarette butt count was behind the library near the DW and SS buildings. One of the litter-busters also noticed the cigarette butts are mostly found under tables, meaning that these sneaky smokers are hiding them from view in clearly non-smoking areas. What we ask of the obviously clever smokers is to stick to the designated areas since second-hand smoke is known to cause cancer and it’s just not fair to the rest of us to pay for your unhealthy habit! Another repeating trend was that in both months, areas around LIMS and TC had the highest amount of junk food wrappers (lollies and chip packets). This may be litter from people snacking while waiting for their bus. One thing’s for sure, we are clearly eating too much junk food! Something about eating junk must make us more inclined to throw junk on the ground. Surprisingly, the agora, which people think of as having a lot of litter stacks up as reasonably quite clean compared to other areas, although it has the highest prevalence of take-away type rubbish which is bulkier and thus more visually obvious. We have noticed, on our collecting expeditions, that the shop owners take a fair bit of pride in their areas and will clean up after their patrons (not ideal that they have to do that, but no doubt their input is contributing to the relatively clean state of the Agora).
In summary, where there are students, litter will closely follow. Hopefully as we continue to highlight this easily ignored phenomena of throwing trash around like its some kind of special confetti at a wedding, this issue will no longer exist on our beautiful campus.
Craig Allen of Sustainability La Trobe holding up a very non-biodegradable balloon casually tossed on the ground. This is no cause for celebration!
The La Trobe litter-busters are still not impressed with this pile of trash for June!