Castlemaine brought out a very collected and collective crowd - with both, containers and soft plastics!
Our local champion in Castlemaine was Lucinda Young from the Plasticbagfree Castlemaine group. Lucy and her group have been founding members of the Plasticfree Victoria Alliance (PVA). PVA came about in response to the urgency of acting on plastic pollution and the collective frustration we felt at the inactivity of the Victorian government. A bunch of groups active in this area decided to band together as PVA and we have grown from 8 founding member groups to over 80 in less than one year. We encourage any groups, organisations or businesses who are concerned about plastic pollution in Victoria to join us on our facebook page! PVA acts as one to push for effective legislation to reduce plastic pollution. We drafted and submitted feedback to the plastic impacts discussion paper earlier this year and encouraged over 8,000 individual submissions. Within PVA, we support and amplify each our activities. Such as this Big Bottle tour. So I knew we'd be in good hands in Castlemaine.
But the reception we got was amazing! Lucy added to our stunt by staging a soft plastics collection and she managed to fill a 4 by 4 high box trailer within one hour - what an aware and responsive community!
We even had impromptu speeches...
We filled 3 and a half bags with containers and again, had many in-depth conversations with people about container refunds schemes. One in particular stands out for me: Steve, who often collects littered containers, brought a couple of bags full and said "Don't worry about the refund money, use it for the campaign!". He was so informed about local container litter and told us the local scouts used to collect cans but don't anymore because they can't find anyone to take them. I had just finished talking to Donna from the Castlemaine Mail and called out to her to talk to him to fill out her story. Later he came up to me and said "See, this is the problem with recycling: this was just thrown out by someone into the council bins, I saw them do it. Look, how many recyclable things are in with the trash? People just don't bother to separate out items when they are on the go. This would not happen with a refund scheme!".
Later I was approached by an older gentleman, Bob, who handed me the hard copy of a letter he had sent in March to the Victorian Environment minister, Lily D'Ambrosio. It outlined the issues of container litter along the Calder Highway and made a strong case for container deposit legislation. He's yet to hear back from the minister. Let's hope this tour influences the outcome to a satisfying response.
The Mayor of the Mt Alexander Shire, Cr. Bronwen Machin, was there as well and I tried a couple of times to chat with her, but was pulled away to interviews and greetings. When I finally talked to her I asked if she's in support of CDS. Bronwyn shrugged and said "But of course, why wouldn't I be?". Why indeed - nuff said :-)
And I finish off with a sign Dean made as his "local artist's contribution":
Last but not least - Ballarat: we'll be at the West end of Bridge Mall from 11 am to 1 pm to do refunds and at the Eastwood Leisure Centre at 6:30 pm for a Q&A style talk about our experiences on the tour, followed by the short documentary movie “Baykeepers”, starring Neil Blake from the Port Phillip EcoCentre, another PVA member. Please come and join us!