While traditional flash mobs offer a brief moment of entertainment, Canberra’s ‘trash mob’ is less about dancing and more about helping the environment.
Founded by Maddie Diamond in 2017, Trash Mob Canberra is a youth-led community group which meets every month to pick up rubbish around the national capital.
Maddie said the idea stemmed from her experience on walks around her neighbourhood.
“I’d go on the same walk a few times a week and there would be new rubbish there,” she said. “I realised how big of a problem it is … and I wanted to make it more of a community effort to get rid of it.”
Maddie said Trash Mob Canberra has provided “a space for people to be involved with environmental conservation in a relaxed way”, however the community needs to take more responsibility for their actions.
“We have seen people littering while we are picking up in the park,” she said. “Obviously people aren’t feeling connected to the area they are in; there is no feeling of responsibility to care for the area or the planet.”
And cleaning up the city is a costly business. The ACT Government said in 2017-18 there were almost 800 recorded reports of illegal dumping incidents by Transport Canberra and City Services which cost $2 million to clean up.
New laws to strengthen and better enforce litter and illegal dumping laws in the Territory aim to curb the issue.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel introduced the new laws on Thursday 6 June, which “will amend the existing offence provisions to ensure all kinds of littering and dumping are appropriately captured”.
For instance, dropping a cigarette will incur a $500 fine for an individual, regardless if it is lit/unlit or extinguished, reflecting the seriousness of the offence. Cigarette butts cause a significant risk to the environment and result in 13% of landscape fires in the ACT.
Minister Steel said “CCTV is increasingly being used to monitor areas known for dumping in the ACT and at other public areas, such as recycling centres and schools, and the Government will use this evidence to issue fines”.
The recently announced compliance team from Transport Canberra and City Services will play an important role in policing the new laws.
To help with their clean-ups, Trash Mob Canberra is currently crowdfunding. They are aiming to raise $2,500 to go towards clean-up equipment as well as a kayak for cleaning waterways and a trailer to help with rubbish removal; startsomegood.com/trash-mob