For the past twenty five years I’ve supported, in a very small way, the Clean Up Australia Day campaign. Basically, I’d beep enthusiastically at the volunteers as I drove past, while cheerfully pointing out any items of rubbish they’ve missed.
I like to help whenever I can.
You see, I firmly believed that not making a mess in the first place was the best way to do my bit to keep Oz looking beaut. But recently, a young bloke taught me that this isn’t good enough; sooner or later, you have to get your hands dirty in order to keep Australia clean.
My conversion started with a broken beer bottle on the footpath. Like all the other pedestrians, I’d planned to step around it while fiercely muttering something useful like, “Well honestly! Someone should do something about this!”
Then, to my utter amazement, someone actually did do something about it!
A young bloke on a skateboard pulled up and started carefully picking up the glass and placing it on his board. I was so shocked that I found myself kneeling down and helping him.
“Good on you mate!” he grinned. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what I’d been thinking about him.
After we’d tipped the glass into a nearby bin he said something I’ve never forgotten, “If you see rubbish and don’t pick it up, then you might as well have thrown it yourself.” Then he slapped me on the back and skated off over the horizon while I waved farewell.
His wise words changed my mind about picking up other people’s garbage, and since that day whenever I happen upon any rubbish I usually pick it up. So thanks to that thoughtful youth, Clean Up Australia Day has become an everyday event; in a very small, but very important, way.