Over 100 Canberrans spent their weekend strapping on a pair of gloves and becoming rubbish pickers for the day to help clean up Lake Burley Griffin’s polluted water on Sunday (9 December).
Clean Up Lake Burley Griffin Day, which was organised by former RSPCA CEO Tammy ven Dange, saw kids, adults and families turn up to Lake Burley Griffin to rid the lake of waste.
From car tyres, an inflatable boat, a bike, clothes, sleeping bags, egg crates and a floatable mattress, the 100-strong volunteers scoured the lake for rubbish and collected 74 bags full of litter, most of which was drink and food packaging.
Tackling the task by land and water, Ms ven Dange said she wasn’t surprised by the amount of rubbish pulled from the lake.
“I paddle around Lake Burley Griffin all the time and it was one of the reasons that drove me to organise this event,” she said. “If you use the lake on a regular basis and you see all the rubbish, at some point you decide if no one else is going to do work, then maybe I should.”
Though the team did not manage to clean the whole lake, those willing to get down and dirty for a good cause cleaned up the lake from the Burley Griffin Canoe Club, Lotus Bay, Weston Park, Black Mountain Peninsula, West Basin and Kingston Foreshore.
Ms ven Dange said the group also found countless cigarette butts, especially around the Kingston Foreshore and the National Museum of Australia which aligns with recent Clean Up Australia data which showed cigarette butts made up 36 per cent of the rubbish collected by ACT volunteers last year.
With the help of 32 people on kayaks and thirteen kids on land, Ms ven Dange said the cleanup day was a success and hopes the day sends a message to the Canberra community to clean up after themselves.
“It was certainly as much of a cleanup effort as it was an educational message for everyone,” Ms ven Dange said. “You read about all this rubbish in the ocean at the moment but it starts right here. All of the rubbish in the lake is coming from us and what is that doing to the lake and the animals that live in it?
“It was great to see a bunch of different organisations come together to make this happen and clean a lake that means so much to many of us.”