Just rubbish

Last Sunday around noon I realised that I shouldn’t be sitting mindlessly browsing the internet when Melbourne for once had half decent weather. Normally I’d go out for a run however my body needed some good recovery time so I decided to go on a walk. (narrator: this adventure did not end up being good recovery time). I slapped on some sunblock and a hat and set off.

The rough plan was to go on maybe a 5-10km/~1hr walk. Enjoy the sunshine and river. That sort of thing.

Self of myself wearing a hat while outdoors on a walking track

Walking lets you take in the sights better. You get to see a lot detail than just jogging past. There’s no pressure, you can stop to take a picture or enjoy a lizard friend crossing your path.

Lizard friend enjoying the nice sun on a clear patch of dirt

I however became more and more frustrated at the amount of litter I walked past. Right next to the river.

I eventually found a cement mix bag blowing in the wind. That was it. I was going to take that bag and pick up every bit of litter I could find along the way. I was walking, I had all the time in the world, I may as well do something good.

Concrete bag full of rubbish

It didn’t take long however to fill the bag. By that time I had reached the Collingwood Children’s Farm (I must stress, that this is a farm in which children learn farming. They do not farm children there). I found a staff member and traded the concrete bag filled with rubbish with a new cardboard bag. In hindsight I should have tried to keep the concrete as it held a bit more, but I need to dump the rubbish and this was the easiest way.

Now I probably should have turned back then, however I was enjoying being outside and the weather. So I kept on going, picking up rubbish, jumping into creeks to fish stuff out, digging out stuck cans and bottles from garden beds.

Two cardboard bags full of rubbish

Along the way I found some interesting things:

  • 4x Bicycle rims
  • North Melbourne Rec center pass (seems to be Mifare Classic)
  • A credit card
  • A surprising amount of clothing
  • Two different shoes
  • A full bottle of hair conditioner
  • Hand pump paint sprayer
  • Menu log delivery bag
  • Scaffolding tag

Shoe left on the side of the path

I think the things that disappointed me most though were:

  • Energy gel packets (these are used for refuelling runners and cyclers on the go)
    • It was always the same brand - so maybe it’s just one arsehole that runs or rides a lot
  • Dog litter bags
    • I don’t think I’ll ever understand this. People pick up after their pets, then leave the bag near the footpath. This is literally the worst.

The bags of rubbish kept on filling and I kept on going. Where I could I favoured bins I could sort recyclables out - however some councils seem to only have general waste bins. Better in landfill than in the river though. I ended walking 20km over 4 hours.

Garmin Connect screenshot showing a route around Melbourne’s capital city trail starting in Richmond and ending in the Docklands. 20km traveled

Probably the worst section was from Flemington Bridge area where the M2 covers the track. I had to walk past so much rubbish because I couldn’t fit it in my bag. I suspect this section could do with more public bins however my guess is that most of the rubbish is from motorist yeeting their rubbish from their cars. That appeared to be a common thing as anywhere road related had significantly more rubbish.

Two bags over full of bottles and containers

I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom for the future though. I found surprisingly few shopping bags in my travels. I was expecting to find more plastic bags along the way to increase how much litter I could carry between bins. Guessing the plastic bag bans have worked well then. A lot of what I did pick up was bottles and cans. With Victoria finally introducing the container return scheme today (1st November 2023 as I write this post) I’m hoping to see a huge improvement. Coffee cups however… I think we need to consider a ban on those.

For me this was an unplanned adventure. A lot of people got in touch with me after asking me to go watch Beau Miles. I since have, and their videos are worth a watch. He’s a little more planned with collecting rubbish and I think I should start thinking about improving my rubbish collecting strategy.

The plan that isn’t so much a plan

I don’t really do these long walks often. But maybe I should? Maybe next time I should consider:

  • Garden bags for collecting more waste (ideally I want to grab these second - things like pool salt come in them are generally used once)
  • Snacks and water - While there was water on the track, I didn’t eat or drink anywhere near as much as I should have
  • Support bike with trailer - maybe I could run behind a bike with a trailer to hold more stuff - this is a bigger project though
  • Maybe focus on a really bad area rather than a really long walk
  • Plan out where to return rubbish to - ideally being able to recycle

If I’m just going out for a walk I may as well pick up some trash along the way. Maybe I’ll do this again sometime.