Larry the Lyrebird casts a watchful eye over visitors to Mt Stirling. But Larry is no ordinary bird…he’s made entirely out of rubbish!
Students from Lauriston Girls’ School (Howqua) made Larry out of rubbish collected from the entry to Mt Stirling. He’s part of a project to reduce litter by getting visitors to sort and remove their own waste.
“Victoria’s stunning alpine region is a beautiful place to visit,” said Tom Kelly, Environmental Officer for Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management. “We get visitors all year round. Lots of school and outdoor adventure groups come to camp here. We also have many native plant and animal species that we need to look after.
“Being so remote makes waste management a challenge. We also work around periods of peak visitation and harsh weather conditions like heavy snowfall and high winds.
“We’ve introduced lots of great ways to manage and separate waste in our resorts. But it breaks my heart to still see litter at remote camping areas and refuge huts. And removing this litter is not easy, especially in winter.
“Rather than focus on better ways to collect litter, we wanted to make it easier for our visitors to remove their waste. We took the ethos of ‘carry in, carry out’ a step further by creating a waste kit so that visitors could separate waste on the spot.”
“After lots of research, we made a portable waste kit with three compostable bags for general rubbish, recycling and compostable items. We coloured-coded the bags in the same way as our bins at home – red, yellow and green respectively – because that’s what people are used to.”
The kit also contains instructions, a dry bag for storage and is packed into a durable canvas pocket that attaches to backpacks.
“We put signs up across the mountain and ran a social media campaign, testing our messages with Year 9 waste champions from Lauriston. We encouraged visitors to take selfies with Larry using the hashtag #dontwastemtstirling.
“We posted information about the waste kits online and contacted as many visiting groups as we could.”
In winter 2017, the team gave the kit to 520 participants from 31 school and outdoor adventure groups. Out of 31 groups, 28 successfully used the waste kits, separating waste into three streams and taking it to collection points.
Before the project, 79 per cent would carry out their waste but only 36 per cent would source separate waste and recyclables. Only one group separated compostables.
“The groups said the kits were well designed and easy to use,” explained Tom. “Some groups now want to use a similar kit when they go on other outdoor trips.
“Colour-coding the bags was a wonderful way to link with home behaviours. The project also created much needed educational materials for school and outdoor education groups using the mountain.”
“The biggest challenge was getting through to group leaders. We were most successful when we spoke to group leaders one-on-one before camp. We did post information online, but we didn’t engage any groups in this way.
“If we left it until they arrived, they were usually too busy.
“Social media was not the best way to share our message as many participants did not have mobile access. We might try a large centrally-located pinboard next time.
“Our waste audits were hampered by heavy snowfall and storms. We need to look at better ways to collect data in winter. Informal interviews helped us to assess the success of the project.”
“We will definitely continue with the waste kits. We are thinking about installing a dispenser of compostable bags and educational materials at Telephone Box Junction in Mt Stirling so visitors can ‘grab and go’. It’s a beautiful place up here and it’s up to all of us to help make sure it stays that way in future.”
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