Monday, April 22, 2024

‘Eventually there’s going to be more rubbish than grass’

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Dave Upfold is pitching in to help keep his part of Pakuranga tidy. Times photo Wayne Martin

The amount of rubbish Dave Upfold removed from a short stretch of an east Auckland road in just 60 seconds is staggering.

To highlight a growing problem in the local community the well-known Pakuranga resident recently donned gloves and a high-vis vest before filling a black rubbish bag with litter  plucked from a traffic island near the intersection of Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Drive.

Into the bag went steel drink cans, glass bottles, a vehicle’s plastic wheel cover, a full bottle of flavoured milk, broken pieces from a vehicle’s exterior, part of a store’s sign, cardboard, an empty KFC chip box, and more.

Upfold says he sees people throw litter out of their vehicle while driving around east Auckland “all the time”.

“It’s all hidden,” he says of the roadside litter. “What you can’t see, people don’t care about, but it’s still creating a problem with rubbish.

“Eventually there’s going to be more rubbish than grass and it’s all hidden because the grass is three-feet high.”

If Upfold sees people throw litter out of their vehicle as he’s driving around the community he honks his vehicle’s horn at them.

“I think it’s got to the stage where people buy a takeaway on their way home, they eat it and when they’re finished the box gets bombed into the verge when they stop their car,” he says.

Some of the rubbish Dave Upfold collected in just one minute from a stretch of road in Pakuranga. Times photo Wayne Martin

Illegal littering and rubbish dumping is potentially being exacerbated by Auckland Council removing more than 150 rubbish bins from reserves and other public spaces in the Howick Local Board area.

As the Times recently reported, the move has been met by a loud backlash from angry residents who say it’ll make it harder to dispose of waste including dog faeces.

Council general manager parks and community facilities Taryn Crewe previously said it has about 10,000 rubbish bins across the city.

A large portion of them are “underutilised” and contain little to no rubbish when being emptied, she said.

“Accordingly, the council has undertaken a rationalisation exercise as part of the annual budget savings target, aiming for a 30 per cent reduction in the number of bins currently located across the region.”

Upfold says the council removing so many bins won’t help keep the area tidy.

“That’s the problem. Nobody’s done their research. We can save money and everyone says, ‘well great, but it’s going to cost us double to clean it up’.”

He encourages locals to adopt a spot in their neighbourhood and try to keep it clean and free of litter.

“If I can fill a rubbish bag in 60 seconds, we’re asking people to give up 15 minutes of their day once a year and 20 of us will have this whole street cleaned from Pakuranga Plaza to Panmure.

“We’ll be able to fill five rubbish bags.”

And he has a message to those who think it’s okay to throw their rubbish onto the ground for someone else to clean up.

“You’re living in the wrong country. It’s time to move.

“In this place 20 years ago you wouldn’t have seen that [all the litter he collected] and look at it today.

“It’s simply a lack of leadership right from the top, getting rid of bins and people are saying we’re paying for something we’re not getting.

“It boils down to getting rid of the rubbish bins.”

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