An area at the back of Big W at Gungahlin has been turned into a dumping ground of discarded items as residents leave mattresses, lounges and bags of clothes near donation bins in the area.
When Gungahlin residents Cecilia Marshall and her husband Greg saw the mess again this morning (17 December), they decided they’d had enough of seeing their suburb turned into a tip.
“This is a problem that has been ongoing for months,” Cecilia told Region Media. “But when I drove up there this morning, it was really bad. People have been dumping lounges, a mattress, a table, and bags and bags of clothes. It’s just a disgrace.”
Cecilia said that as soon as the items are cleaned up, more rubbish takes its place. She said some people are discarding their household rubbish in the bins, which is mixed with donated clothes, toys and items that could be repurposed.
She said commuters are tripping over the rubbish as they make their way to work because people are dumping donatable items instead of using the bins, even though “one of the blue bins down the end was empty”.
“I’ve noticed that people who do the park and ride to work are tripping over the rubbish because it’s spilled on to the paths. Apparently, it was only cleared yesterday, so what’s there today has been dumped overnight.
“It’s only going to get worse after Christmas.”
Cecilia posted her photos and a message of her outrage over the dumped items on the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook.
“Residents of Gungahlin, you should be ashamed of yourselves … great way of showing our children how to reduce landfill and look after our community. Shame on you! I’m so disgusted!!”
Cecilia is also the administrator of a Buy Nothing community group in the area and said people don’t realise that what is not collected in the bins goes straight to landfill. The charity then has to pay the tip fees.
“My husband often takes the mattresses and pulls them apart. He takes the wood and makes things from it, and takes the metal to the tip for free,” Cecilia said.
“I’m just angry that there are so many people out there struggling at the moment. Some of those toys and clothes should be going to the Green Shed.
“St Vinnies and Salvos are nearby as well – you’ve just got to knock on the door and they will take some of those things if they can.
“There are already too many kids that don’t get presents for Christmas and yet there are all these discarded toys lying around near the bins.
“People are just lazy.”
Cecilia and her husband Greg have spent much of today trying to get the mess cleaned up once again.
They have contacted their MP, the Member for Yerrabi, Michael Pettersson, about the problem, and they said he’s been very helpful. They have also made calls to Access Canberra and other organisations to hopefully clean up the mess made by a few individuals.
“This isn’t just happening here at Gungahlin. It’s happening in the suburbs as well. You see fridges left on the nature strip and all kinds of things.
“It just looks horrible. Canberra used to be the clean city but it’s not any more.”
Greg Marshall said the issue points to a lack of education about where people can discard things they no longer want.
He also said many of the discarded items could go to people affected by the bushfires in NSW.
“I don’t generally take items away from the bins because I don’t know if I’m allowed to or not. People don’t understand what services are available and where they can get rid of their stuff for free or cheap, other than taking it to the tip,” Greg said.
“People aren’t aware that if the clothes are left outside the bins, the charity organisation has to discard it. It just ends up in landfill.
“People are losing their whole houses to bushfires, so if there are places where we can donate clothes to help out the victims of the fires, then maybe that would be a better option.”
Greg said he has also linked with Andrew from the G Spot at Gungahlin who is organising a mass donation of items for the bushfire relief effort.
“I’ve always been one of those people who like to recycle as much as possible. I’ve made chairs out of old fence palings.
“The biggest thing is just making sure that people are aware that anything not in the bins is just going to be chucked out to landfill. All of these items are just a waste.”