Caring for our bays

Finding the hero inside reduces litter across the Bellarine Peninsula.

Project information

  • Name: Caring for our Bays Printing and Installation
  • Lead: Bellarine Catchment Network
  • Location: Corio Bay and the Bellarine shoreline of Port Phillip Bay
  • Themes: litter and waterways; marine debris; marine wildlife; signage

A one hundred kilometre stretch of coastline along the Bellarine Peninsula is adorned with ‘Be a Hero’ bin stickers, wraps and drain stickers thanks to a team effort led by the Bellarine Catchment Network.

“We are facing a litter crisis,” explained Matt Crawley from the Bellarine Catchment Network. “We’ve got litter hotspots all along the Bellarine shoreline and this litter ends up in the bay. It’s hard to collect so chances are it will stay in the water for years. We’re looking at a generational crisis really and our best option is to stop litter entering the bay in the first place.”

Litter hotspots tend to be in areas with high public use, located in residential zones and transected by numerous old and inefficient drains. Many hotspots also adjoin industrial and business precincts.

Connecting marine debris with marine damage

“We wanted people to make the connection between local marine species and the damage caused by litter and plastics. We see lots of soft plastics on the shoreline and in the water. These plastics are detrimental to marine life and unsightly.

“We brought together every land manager along the coast from the north shore region of Geelong to Barwon Coast to create a united front against litter.”

Be a hero campaign

“We designed information boards, drain stickers and bin wraps and stickers using our ‘Be a Hero’ messaging,” said Matt. “We then installed graphics in strategic positions in litter hotspots.”

Rubbish bin on a jettyThe designs were informative and eye-catching, making the bins stand out and more attractive to use. All signage areas saw a drop in litter, some as high as 40 per cent. Whereas areas with no signage saw an increase in litter over the same period.”

“If we were to do it again,’ said Matt, “we would aim for more diversity in the animals used for stickers and use animals specific to locations on the Bellarine to give the images more impact and make it more relevant for each area.”

Working together to get results

The Bellarine Catchment Network leads an alliance of partner organisations from key catchment and coastal organisations (government and non-government) with a landcare and coastcare focus.

“We have a long history of working with others on community-driven projects,” explained Matt. “This project was no exception – we worked with several partners from our existing Caring for our Bays program, including the Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management and the City of Greater Geelong.

“We also made new partnerships with Parks Victoria and the Waterfront Committee of the City of Greater Geelong, so that was a good outcome for us. The waterfront committee have expressed a desire to see more signage in coming years.

Students with a bin sticker

“Collaborating with land managers and other organisations was what helped us deliver the project. It’s vital to create partnerships and set up a working group at the start to ensure the workload is evenly spread.

“Getting permissions from council and land managers was the most time-consuming part of the project so I recommend starting this early – even before designing any bin materials. They may have specific requirements, logos and dimensions that need to be factored into your design.”

“Students from local schools also got involved in installing bin wraps and drain stickers.” (see photo: St Leonards Primary School students apply Be A Hero drain stickers to raise awareness that stormwater drains lead into the oceans.)

“One thing we would do differently is to get more buy-in from land managers to help install the stickers so this doesn’t fall just to project staff,” added Matt.

Next steps

“We now have bin stickers on most bins along the coast. We plan to use another five species for next summer’s peak period and design bin wraps with these species. In the future, we’d like to create some signs in other languages too.

“We plan to keep educating and encouraging the community to look after their local area, so we can all benefit from a healthy marine ecosystem and a brighter future for our bays.”

More information

Contact Matt Crawley at the Bellarine Catchment Network on 0417231853 or email