Walking for climate change awareness: cleaning up the roadsides at the same time

Some people dump rubbish on roadsides; some people dump waste gasses into the atmosphere. Both actions are irresponsible and harmful and good people should be stopping them from happening.

How can an individual, who likes walking but is a poor talker, make people think about the need to take action on slowing climate change? One possibility is to make the link between rubbishing the roadsides and rubbishing the atmosphere. Then walk the roads, cleaning up the roadsides, and at the same time displaying a sign about the need to clean up the atmosphere.

Cleaning up the roadsides – cleaning up the atmosphere;
it all comes down to ethics in the end.

Written 2013/09/15, last edited 2023/05/12
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Bush Garbos

It happens that Stewart Paxton, coordinator of the Bush Garbos, like me, was based in Clare for a number of years. The Bush Garbos, AKA the Great Tracks Cleanup Crew, pick up big tonnages of rubbish in the SA outback about three times a year.

This page is a
work in progress


I love the world as it is. I find it mind-bogglingly beautiful. So a part of the reason for my walking is purely selfish; I want to enjoy the world before it is irreparably damaged by climate change and the other environmental damage that is continuing to accumulate.

Clare morning
Photo 20070718_31

The link: roadsides and atmosphere

There are similarities between the rubbish that is dumped on our roadsides and the carbon dioxide that is dumped into our atmosphere. Both are put there by irresponsible and unethical people; neither should be there.


We can do something

If half, even a quarter, of us were to pick up some rubbish once or twice a week and put it in a bin it would be a great help.

If half, even a quarter, of us were to lobby our politicians or write to newspapers once in a while asking for more action on climate it would be a great help.

Where they differ is that roadside rubbish is very visible and doesn't do a lot of harm; the greenhouse gases that are dumped into our atmosphere are invisible and are causing huge harm. The carbon dioxide in particular is causing ocean acidification, sea level rise and is one of the main drivers of climate change. The air pollution produced by the burning of fossil fuels kills millions of people world wide each year.

To knowingly lie in order to keep the dying coal industry alive longer and to slow the change to renewable energy is nothing short of criminal, and it is a crime that has been perpetrated by the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Australian governments in the Liberal Coalition's war against renewable energy.

This photo and the one above were taken in South Australia's Clare Valley.
Red stringybark
Trees following a very long hot summer, of the type we will get more often with a climate change future.

Looking at the two photos, which do you prefer?


Where have I been?

Some roadside rubbish; 2013/09/19
Roadside rubbish
The long bits are plastic strips from beneath a young bloke's car; he apparently didn't make allowance for the low clearance of his car not suiting the back road he was on (Jacobs Range Road).

So far I've picked up rubbish in the following areas:


Is this bloke mad? Does he think he can stop climate change?

No to both questions, but he does think that the world is so bloody wonderful and so valuable that he has to try; and he does think that he can slow climate change just a little bit if he can get through to enough people.
My road-side sign
Road-side sign

Some quotes

"Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself."
Sukhraj Dhillon

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, you've never been in a room with a mosquito."
Annita Roddick

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

How to decide what to pick up?

What should be picked up and what is better left?
  • How unsightly is it?
  • How polluting is it?
Paper and other organics (fruit peal etc.) that is not unsightly is better left on the roadside rather than being picked up and going into landfill where it might ferment and release methane into the atmosphere.

I do not generally pick up heavy items such as tyres.

Picked up on 200m of roadside adjacent my property, 2021/08/07
Roadside rubbish
Label on 14 of the throw-away coffee cups; "Proudly using Fleurieu Milk Company". Fleurieu Milk Company, I don't think that this is any cause for pride.

Plainly Fleurieu Milk Company is not the only culprit. The fault is with a number of groups: the manufacturers of the cups, the shops that sell coffee in throw away cups, the irresponsible people who throw the cups onto the roadside, the government for allowing throw away cups at all.

SA, Clare area

Ashby Road, Armagh
2013/09/21, 0.3 km

Basham Road
2014/02/23, 0.8 km

Benbournie Road
2014/02/23, 1.9 km

Blyth Road
2013/09/21, 1.0 km; 2013/10/08, 1.2 km; 2013/12/14, 0.8 km;
2014/01/18, 0.7 km; 2014/02/07, 0.4 km; 2014/02/10, 0.5 km; 2014/04/16, 1.2 km; 2014/06/08, 1.5 km; 2014/11/06, 0.7 km;
2015/02/09, 0.4 km; 2015/04/04, 0.5 km; 2015/04/14, 0.5 km;
2016/03/20, 0.5 km;
2017/02/10, 3.4 km;
2018/03/07, 1.0 km; 2018/03/08, 0.8 km; 2018/03/09, 0.8 km; 2018/03/10, 0.8 km; 2018/06/07, 0.3 km.
2019/02/08-10, 1.0 km; 2019/03/26, 0.5 km; 2019/03/27, 0.6 km; 2019/05/29, 0.3 km;
2021/02/23, 0.3 km; 2021/02/24, 0.3 km; 2021/05/02, 0.6 km; 2021/08/07, 0.2 km;

Boconnoc Park Road
2013/09/25, 2.2 km;
2014/04/16, 1.4 km

Brooks Lookout

Emu Flat Road
2013/12/12, 2.6 km

Fitzgerald Road
2013/12/13, 1.0 km

Hicks Road, Armagh
2013/10/17, 0.5 km; 2013/12/15, 1.9 km

Horrocks Highway
2013/11/12, Parking area 2.9 km N of PO; 2013/11/14, 0.5 km; 2013/11/22, 1.4 km; 2013/11/27, 0.4 km;
2014/01/09, 0.8 km;
2017/02/11, 1.5 km;
2018/03/18, 0.6 km;

Ingomar Road, Armagh
2013/09/20, 0.7 km

Jacobs Range Road
2013/09/19, 2.2 km;
2014/03/13, 2.2 km

Kurang Road, Armagh
2013/09/21, 0.7 km

McDonald Road
2014/02/23, 0.9 km

Muanu Road
2013/09/19, 0.7 km;
2014/03/13, 0.7 km

Ohlmeyer Reserve

Old Blyth Road
2013/09/14, 1.3 km; 2013/10/17, 1.2 km

Riesling Trail
2013/09/24, 1 km;
2014/02/14, 0.6 km; 2014/02/20, 3.4 km; 2014/02/22, 1.2 km; 2014/03/02, 1.2 km; 2014/04/20, 2.5 km

Scobie Road
2013/09/13 to 19th, 4.4 km; 2014/03/13, 1.5 km; 2014/04/16, 0.8 km

Seven Sisters Road
2013/10/07, 1.2 km

Spring Gully Road
2013/09/19, 0.9 km; 2013/10/07, 1.2 km; 2013/12/03, 0.7 km;
2014/03/13, 1.0 km

St George's Terrace, Armagh
2013/09/21, 1.5 km

On the road
On the road
Spring Gully Road, Clare Valley

SA Crystal Brook area

In the Crystal Brook area I have picked up roadside rubbish along the following roads:
Binney Road
2013/10/04, 1 km;
2014/01/23, 1.75 km; 2014/01/24, Builder's rubbish;
2015/04/13, 0.7 km; 2015/07/09, 1.75 km;
2017/06/26, 1.75 km

Bowman Park Road (from Huddleston Road to Bowman Park)
2014/12/11, 1.4 km
2018/08/08, 1.0 km

Bowman Street Extension
2014/04/25, 1.2 km

Brook Park Lane (adjacent motorbike track)
2013/10/04, 1.6 km;
2015/02/25, 1.6 km; 2015/04/13, 1.6 km;

Cattle Track (short-cut to Red Hill)
2015/07/09, 0.6 km

Claridge Road
2018/10/26, 0.2 km

Clements Road
2014/06/15, 1.9 km

Crystal Brook bypass (Port Augusta road)
2015/07/31, 1.2 km; 2015/08/01, 0.4 km; 2015/08/02, 0.8 km; 2015/08/11, 0.8 km

Crystal Brook Valley Road (low road to Bowman Park)
2014/12/04, 2.2 km;
2015/07/07, 0.8 km

Darbon Terrace (western side of railway line)
2014/01/24, 0.5 km

Ohlmeyer Reserve, Clare
On the road
Why would someone dump rubbish in a reserve when they could take it to the transfer station and dump it there free of charge?
Frith Road (past the southern grain bunkers)
2013/10/04, 1 km;
2015/02/25, 1 km; 2015/04/13, 1 km; 2015/07/06, 1.7 km;
2017/06/25, 1 km
2018/06/11, 1.7 km

Goulter Road (Nob's Hill)
2014/04/25, 0.8  km;
2015/07/07, 0.8 km

Goyder Highway; the highway from Gulnare through CB toward Port Pirie

Port Pirie side of town (past the northern grain bunkers)
2013/10/24, 0.8 km;
2014/06/14, 0.8 km; 2014/11/25, 0.8 km;
2015/01/31, 0.6 km (two bags in 1/2 km!); 2015/02/01, 0.7 km (another two bags); 2015/02/11, 0.4 km; 2015/02/12, 0.5 km; 2015/02/14, 0.4 km; (finally got to the highway bypass – total 2.6 km and about eight bags full!);
2015/07/31, 2.1 km; (only 2 bags of rubbish)
2016/05/01, 1.0 km; 2016/05/04, 1.0 km;
2017/04/19, 0.5 km; 2017/04/20, 0.4 km;
2018/03/16, 0.6 km; 2018/11/09, 0.3 km;
2019/01/09, 0.2 km; 2019/06/25, 0.3 km

Narridy side of town
2013/11/05, 0.5 km;
2014/12/13, 1.0 km;
2015/01/27, 0.8 km; 2015/02/26, 1.5 km; 2015/06/24, 1.5 km;
2016/04/01, 0.8 km; 2016/07/11, 0.8 km;
2017/03/09, 1.4 km;
2018/03/16, 0.8 km; 2018/05/08, 0.9 km;
2020/07/07, 0.8 km

Huddleston Road (top road past cemetery toward Bowman Park and Gladstone)
2013/10/21, 1.3 km; 2013/11/08, 1.1 km;
2014/03/20, 0.7 km; 2014/11/26, 1.7 km; 2014/12/03, 1.5 km;
2015/01/17, 1.0 km; 2015/01/26, 1.7 km; 2015/02/25, 2.4 km; 2015/04/11, 0.9 km; 2015/06/23, 1.0 km; 2015/07/09, 1.0 km; 2015/08/10, 1.2 km;
2016/05/31, 1.2 km; 2016/07/10, 0.9 km; 2016/08/02, 1.3 km;
2017/03/08, 2.2 km; 2017/06/24, 2.2 km; 2017/06/25, 1.0 km
2018/10/26, 0.7 km; (I doubt I've ever picked up so many pieces of rubbish in such a short distance.)

Hughes Gap Road (toward Laura and Beetaloo Valley)
2013/10/25, 0.8 km;
2015/04/22, 1.0 km; 2015/04/23, 0.9 km
2016/08/03, 2.0 km;
2017/06/12, 1.7 km
2018/08/22, 1.0 km
2019/05/11, 0.5 km, 2019/05/13, 0.5 km
2020/02/06, 1.0 km

Mais Terrace (adjacent primary school)
2014/03/20, 0.3 km; 2014/04/25, 0.3 km

2015/08/06, before annual show

Town walking/cycling paths
2018/05/09, 500m

Venning Road (Adelaide road south from Crystal Brook)
2014/07/17, 1.2 km; 2014/11/15, 1.6 km;
2015/01/28, 2.8 km; 2015/04/12, 3.4 km; 2015/05/13, 1.3 km; 2015/11/06, 1.6 km; 2015/11/07, 2.5 km;
2016/03/16, 1.2 km; 2016/07/11, 1.2 km;
2017/03/07, 1.2 km; 2017/06/15, 1.8 km;
2018/03/16, 0.4 km; 2018/03/22, 1.0 km; 2018/11/09, 1.6 km
2019/01/09, 0.3 km
2020/02/05, 1.0 km; 2020/07/06, 1.3 km;

Mandurah and WA generally

Serpentine River
Serpentine River, Greenfields, Mandurah
In the Mandurah area I have picked up rubbish in the following areas: Greenfields parklands adjacent to the Serpentine, near the lagoon in the Falcon area, Pinjara near the river, around the Greenfields primary school and adjacent oval, (when I'm in the area visiting my daughter); various dates.

The photo on the right is of the Serpentine River in Mandurah; a beautiful area, partly spoiled by the rubbish that people dump.

Move to Erskine, a Mandurah suburb

In February 2022 my wife and I moved from SA to Erskine. As mentioned on another page I have continued picking up rubbish there.

Specific areas I've collected rubbish from in Erskine are:


Near 5 Footway Inn, Project Bugis, where we stayed during a short holiday in March 2015.

There was a street sweeper who cleaned-up the footpaths and roadway near the hostel each morning, but there was a parking lot just across the street from the hostel and there were many cigarette butts and assorted rubbish – which I cleaned-up.

Singapore was not a dirty city, but neither was it a clean city. See a photographic record of a short visit to Singapore on another page on this site.


This section added

Port Pirie

Rubbish in Flinders View Park
Flinders View Park, Port Pirie, rubbish
My wife and I visit Port Pirie once in a while for shopping, it's the closest city to our home in Crystal Brook.

I have noticed the amount of rubbish around Port Pirie's parks before, and have picked up a little on occasion, although most of my efforts have been closer to home.

Today I spent about a half hour picking up rubbish in Flinders View Park which is opposite the Woolworths shopping centre on the main road into town.

I was pleasantly surprised in there being less rubbish than I remembered there being on my last visit, but I didn't have any trouble in finding a bag full.

Unfortunately the people of Port Pirie seem to have less civic pride than those of Crystal Brook and Clare. On the other hand, there is probably a comparable amount of rubbish around parts of Mandurah. I suspect that small town people tend to have more community spirit than city people.

I picked up rubbish in Memorial Park and Flinders View Park again on 2021/08/19.

Climate Walk

Picking up rubbish on the Midland Highway
Rubbish pick-up
While walking from Melbourne to Canberra to push for climate change action our group picked up rubbish on many sections of roadside in Victoria and New South Wales.

I noticed that drink containers were a much greater proportion of the roadside rubbish in these two states than they were in South Australia. There is a refundable deposit on drink containers in SA, not in Victoria or NSW.

The walk took place between 2014/09/21 and 2014/10/21.

Coca Cola

Organisations such as Coca Cola are trying to stop an Australia-wide container deposit from being implimented.

You can object by squashing Coke cans flat, placing them in standard envelopes, and posting them to Coca Cola.

The Clare hills, 2005/09/27
Clare panorama
With climate change, how long will this scene remain as it is?

What can you do to help in the fight against climate change?

Some of the trees I have planted on what was then 'our' land.
Young trees
You can plant trees, either on your own land or by getting involved with organisations like Trees For Life. Or you might be able to turn some wasteland in your town into a nice park, as I am trying to do.

Above photo taken in May 2008

The short answer is:

The long answer is given on
another page on this site.

What type of rubbish do I find?

  • Take-away food and drink containers are probably the most common; especially take-away coffee cups and their plastic lids; they should carry a refundable deposit.
  • Paper and cardboard. (Paper and cardboard are biodegradable but they can be very unsightly and a lot of light cardboard packaging is now plastic coated to make it more shiney and eye-catching on the shelf).
  • Plastic packaging (including polyurethane foam) and wrapping is very common;
  • Refundable drink containers are fairly common; plainly a 10¢ deposit is not enough. (When 5¢ deposits were originally brought in, in 1977, 5¢ had the same buying power as 34¢ does in 2023.)
  • Rags are very common. (Those made of natural fibres are biodegradable, but synthetics are not, and how does one easily and quickly tell the difference?)
  • String, cord, bailer twine, rope, cable-ties.
  • Broken glass and ceramics
  • Cigarette packets (while the packets are biodegradable they contain metal foil which is not).
  • Metal foil is conspicuous and long-lasting.
  • Various pieces of metal
  • Pop-out pill trays (convenient but not at all environmentally friendly, often being composed of both plastic and foil).
  • Broken white roadside marking posts are fairly common.
  • On unsealed roads there are quite a few bits that have broken or fallen off cars; hub-caps in particular.
  • Plastic drums and buckets – many of which may have blown out of the back of utes.
  • Occasionally I find tools.
Interestingly, wine bottles are rare even though they are not returnable for a deposit.

Also see What to pick up?

Throw-away cups

Rubbish from the roadside
Throw-away cups
I picked up this lot of rubbish on Gadd Avenue, just outside of Crystal Brook, 2017/03/07. Note the high proportion of throw-away cups.
Most disposable cups are either made of plastic or are paper with a plastic lining; they are not environmentally friendly. Australians use about a billion disposable coffee cups each year and most end up in landfill – or worse, dumped on the roadside. I've spent many hours picking up roadside rubbish and disposable cups are one of the most common types of rubbish I find.

Most coffee shops and bakeries give you the option of a ceramic cup if you are having your coffee on-site or a disposable one if you are taking it away, but some only provide throw-away cups and mugs.

What should you do if you care for the environment? You can either refuse to take a disposable cup – go somewhere else if they can't provide a reusable one – or you could bring your own cup.

A responsible business will discourage, not encourage, the use of throw-away cups.

Local businesses that were irresponsible at the time of writing:

Clare Rise Bakery
Have only throw-away cups, whether you are eating in or taking away. Go a little further north to the Caltex roadhouse where you can get a ceramic mug, if you specifically ask for one.

Zest, Clare
Do have reusable cups and mugs, but will give iced coffee, juices, smoothies and milkshakes in throw-away mugs unless you insist on reusable.
In March 2018 I started an Internet page discussing the degree of responsibility of cafes etcetera in the Mid North of South Australia. In researching the subject I found that while few cafes in the main street of Clare were responsible (Avachat being an exception) there were responsible cafes in Brinkworth, Cafe for Ewe; Watervale, Watervale General Store; and Auburn, Cogwebs.

The proprietor of Cafe for Ewe in Brinkworth, Sharon Middleton, has been very active in looking for responsible, compostable, and reusable containers. It is a pity there aren't more like her in the district.

I see that France has banned disposable coffee cups, except those that are completely compostable. The ban is to come into force by 2020.

At least one type of disposable cup is compostable in commercial facilities, BioCup; if throw-away cups must be used, these would be better than those that are not bio-degradable. I have seen these in Western Australia, but not South Australia.

Alternatives to throw-away cups

Reusable mugs
Reusable mugs
Mugs such as these are well suited for take-away drinks; they are unbreakable, insulated and have lids.
Coffee drinkers who regularly get take-away coffee could take their own reusable cups into the coffee shop to be filled.

Coffee shops that want to be environmentally responsible could encourage people to bring in their own cups; for example they could display a sign explaining the implications of throw-away cups. They could also provide reusable take-away cups, such as those in the photo, for sale.

Climate change

Record temperatures
Temperatures in Australia
Highest temperatures on record in a large part of Australia
It happened that the 5th report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in late September 2013, soon after I started on this project. The report stated that there is very little doubt that the climate is changing and that this is largely caused by Man's activities.

A few days later, in early October 2013 the Australian Bureau of Meteorology produced the map on the right, showing that almost all of the state of South Australia, and a substantial part of the whole nation, had its hottest year on record from the beginning of October 2012 to the end of September 2013. Higher temperatures, and predicted lower rainfalls, will of course have negative impacts on agriculture and on our native flora and fauna.

Why accept climate science?

More on climate change.

Wind damage in faber bean crop
Bean crop damaged by extreme wind
At Crystal Brook, SA.
See text
Again, shortly after I started on this project, Mid North South Australia, where I live, experienced exceptional and damaging winds on September 30th and October 2nd 2013. The photograph at the right shows damage to one of the many bean crops in the region.

Climatologists forecast that severe weather events are likely to become more common as climate change advances.

Ironically, adverse impact on agriculture from a wind farm development has been used by at least one wind farm opposition group as justification for its activities, but climate change will have an incomparably greater adverse impact on agriculture than any wind farm.

Paper bags and wrapping

Paper bags and wrappers
Brown paper would be less conspicuous
Paper is, of course, made of plant material, is mainly celulose and rots down to form harmless compost, just like fallen leaves and twigs.

These paper bags and wrappers (with many others) were picked up on a roadside near Crystal Brook on 2015/04/23.

The two marked Balfours and Vili's were bags for pies, pasties, cakes etc. The Subway one was a wrapper from a bread roll.

Irresponsible people throw this sort of thing out of cars; that is a fact of life at present.

Being bleached white paper these bags and wrappers are conspicuous and unsightly; if they were unbleached or brown paper they would be much less so.

I have suggested to these three businesses that they change their packaging.


As of late 2013 I have been working in the council districts of Port Pirie Regional Council (PPRC) and Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council (CGVC).

Around October I contacted PPRC asking about disposal of the rubbish that I collect. On 2013/12/16 I received a phone call from Kevin Browne of PPRC telling me that I would be able to dispose of the rubbish I collect at no cost to me.

I have sent similar requests to CGVC, but have never had a reply.

Update, 2020

I have been able to dispose of the roadside rubbish I collect in the CGVC area at no cost to me at the Clare Waste Transfer Station.

Related pages

Alligator Gorge Xanthorrhoea (a.k.a. yacka).
Yacka in Alligator Gorge
Alligator Gorge is in the Southern Flinders Ranges of SA. At the time the photo was taken, 2013/03/22, the vegetation there had suffered from recent exceptionally hot, long and dry summers.

External sites relating to action on climate change:

Climate Action Network Australia

Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Yes 2 Renewables

The CORENA fund aims to fund renewable energy installations on Australian roofs.

Friends of the Earth push for an environmentally sustainable future.

Australian Conservation Foundation

Climate and Health Alliance

Doctors for the Environment Australia

Of course there are far too many for me to list here; there is a big list on the Climate Action Network site.

Information on climate change (Australia):

CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

Bureau of Meteorology Climate change and variability

The Climate Council is to take over the work of the Climate Commission, which the Abbott Government closed down because they don't want Australians to know the facts on climate change.

Related pages on this site:

Climate change from a global perspective and from an Australian perspective, ocean acidification, ocean warming and sea level rise.


Responsible cafes in Mid North South Australia

Why accept climate science?

A million-step walk for climate action

Greatest crime in the history of humanity; to intentionally lie and distort the facts in support of the coal industry and to oppose the development of renewable energy; especially from a position of authority.

Killer coal; an industry that kills millions of people world-wide each year and is one of the main causes of climate change and ocean acidification.

The Australian Liberal party's war on renewable energy, the Abbott Government, the Turnbull Government and the Morrison Government.

Why you should support wind power

Why I support the local wind farm

What should be done