“Over 80% is plastic”: Local beach clean-up reveals growing trend of plastic waste nationally

A MONTHLY clean-up at St Kilda beach by Sea Shepherd revealed a worrying growth in plastic waste nationally in Australia.

Over 300 people across Victoria took part in the Marine Debris Campaign, which organised simultaneous beach clean-ups at Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool and Mornington Peninsula.

“Over all we had incredible attendance and a massive amount of Marine Debris collected across all clean-ups,” Sea Shepherd said in its Facebook page.

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Bags of rubbish collected in one hour at St Kilda beach. Source: Lauren Choo

The St Kilda clean-up reportedly collected 16 bags of debris weighing over 80 kg, with volunteers helping to count and sort the rubbish into various categories.

Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Co-ordinator Erin Lindwall said that mostly plastic was picked up.

“The main things are like single-use plastics,” Ms Lindwall said.

“So coffee cups, you know, drink bottle lids, straws, plastic bags, food containers, all of those things are what we regularly find on these kind of clean-up days.”

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Sorting of rubbish at Sea Shepherd St Kilda beach clean-up. Source: Lauren Choo

The trend of wastage has increased over the years, particularly plastic waste.

“We’re finding nationally, on average, over 80% of what we pick up is plastic, and majority of that is single-use plastics.

And that trend is very similar nationally, that’s why we need to kind of introduce these legislations, like plastic bag bans, to stop it at the source.

“Otherwise, we will continue to pick it up forever.”

Environmental group Boomerang Alliance, an ally of Sea Shepherd, was there to campaign for a ban on plastic bags.

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The plastic bag monster displaying the amount of plastic bags Australians waste in one hour. Source: Lauren Choo

Community Campaigner for Victoria Annett Finger was accompanied by the plastic bag monster to spread awareness about #BanTheBag movement.

“It’s about 300 bags that are on the costume, and about 5.7 bags are littered in a minute in Australia,” Ms Finger said.

There are three states left in Australia, Victoria, NSW and WA, that do not have a ban on plastic bags.

“We’re trying to get Victoria over the line first to ban the bag.

“Getting people to take pictures, with the speech bubble, with the monster, and for them to post it on social media to get it trending.”

Victorian Greens Senator Nina Springle showed support at the clean-up, and talked about the future of plastic bags.

“We have a bill in front of the parliament at the moment,” Ms Springle said.

“To ban all plastic bags, so not just single-use plastic bags.”

The bill is undergoing an inquiry, with the report due to be tabled back in a few weeks.

The government then have six months to respond, but I don’t know if we will wait for six months before we bring the bill back to see if we can get it through.”

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Infographic detailing the amount of litter in marine plastic pollution. Source: Lauren Choo

To show your support, sign the petition to #banthebag.


$1 milk “not worth it” to students

THE dairy war over cheap supermarket milk has changed some students minds with brand label milk.

$1 milk became the main target over the crisis in the dairy industry, and a boycott was rallied on social media to support local brand milk instead.

However as time passed, data from Dairy Australia has shown supermarket chain Woolworths-brand milk market share has risen back up to just under 60 per cent from its previous drop in sales.

Students’ response to milk prices

Some students from Monash University have taken to Twitter to express their support of brand label milk.

Miss Rachel Morante, a final year student, said she started buying brand label milk as its “not worth” to compromise on local dairy farmers.

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Twitter Interview with Miss Morante, final year student at Monash University (1/2)
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Twitter Interview with Miss Morante, final year student at Monash University (2/2)

Another student, Miss Fitriana Maisarah, a second year student, was aware of the crisis surrounding the dairy industry and said she is willing to make the switch to brand label milk.

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Twitter Interview with Miss Maisarah, second year student at Monash University (1/2)
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Twitter Interview with Miss Maisarah, second year student at Monash University (2/2)

Also, veterinarian student Cassandra MacDonald from NSW, created a video explaining a dollar per litre milk.

The video was made to address Coles treatment with domestic milk farmers through an infographic animation.

And despite the general assumption of students being on tight budgets and not caring, these interviews and video show even the youth are willing to step up and contribute to the local community.

Twitter users weigh in

Many Twitter users have weighed in on the situation of the dairy industry, with scathing tweets directed at supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths.

Collage of tweets about supermarket milk

An online call was put out to the public to ditch the cheap milk and support local dairy farmers instead.

Many consumers were quick to target the dollar a litre milk as the reason the industry was suffering.

However, the crisis surrounding the dairy industry is much more than just dollar litre milk from the chain supermarkets.

The dairy crisis in a nutshell

Australian dairy farmers were shocked when two of the largest processors in the country made large cuts to the price they pay farmers for their milk.

The farm gate milk price (FMP) farmers are paid for their milk was reduced more than ten per cent, and processors Murray Goulburn and Fonterra said the cuts were necessary to remain competitive.

The global dairy trade came into an oversupply as a conflict in Ukraine sparked a trade war with Russia, and import bans were imposed that directly affected markets with significant Australian presence.

Supermarket milk VS Branded milk

Chain supermarkets usually sign contracts with milk processors to supply their house brand milk.

The processors buy the milk from farmers, then process, repackage and deliver the milk along with their own brand label milks such as Devondale and Dairy Farmers.

Coles house brand milk on display

With the worldwide glut in dairy production and a huge slash on the FMP by milk processors, a dollar per litre milk is not the main villain in this.

But the boycott on supermarket milk was not for naught, with some farmer groups rallying against cheap milk since 2011.

Do your part

The dairy industry is facing tough times, but you can do your part by continuing to buy dairy products.

However, if this is very confusing and you just want to find out how you can help support local dairy farmers, click here.

Split views over paid parking introduction at The Glen Shopping Centre

MIXED response from shoppers have been received with the upcoming introduction of paid parking at The Glen Shopping Centre.

While some shoppers would still frequent The Glen despite having to pay for parking, others have taken to going online to show they were discouraged by the fact that this was even considered.

Cars parked at The Glen on a sunny weekend afternoon. Source: Lauren Choo

Ms Jo, a shopper at The Glen, said that paying for parking is not an issue “as long as the first three parking is free”.

Another elderly couple who frequently shops at The Glen, said that the parking situation was not “too terrible” and the implementation of paid parking was because “they (The Glen) just want the money”.

Mr Ahmed, who works and shops at The Glen, was unhappy with the paid parking situation and said it was “a waste of money”.

Regardless, the paid parking plans have not deterred majority of the shoppers at The Glen.

However, online comments on the article that reported plans of paid parking at The Glen were not as positive.

One commenter stated they would have lost a customer with the introduction of paid parking, saying that there are “many other shopping centres with free parking that are just as good if not better”.

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Unhappy commenter in the comments section who disagrees with the paid parking plans. Source: heraldsun.com.au

Another commenter said that this would deter many locals from shopping at The Glen and that there were “plenty of shopping alternatives nearby”, possibly driving business away from The Glen.

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Another unhappy commenter, who feels that the paid parking plans will cause business to drop at The Glen. Source: heraldsun.com.au

Roughly 550 car park spaces will be added as part of the $490 million redevelopment at the centre, bringing the total spaces to more than 3650.

The Glen is considering introducing a ticketless parking system, similar to the type Eastland Shopping Centre uses.

The Glen spokeswoman Ali O’Shea said the centre would continue to offer free parking “for a period” and they were finalising the new parking system.

“The availability and ease of parking is important to our customers and we want to ensure that we have maximum parking available for our guests,” Mrs O’Shea said.

“The New Glen will offer a new and enhanced experience and we want to ensure our parking will complement this by providing an improved customer experience.”

Mrs O’Shea has not confirmed what The Glen’s parking rates would be, and it remains unclear if business at The Glen would be affected with the introduction of paid parking.

Smoking ban loophole found by Monash Council to affect businesses at Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall

ALTHOUGH Monash City Council found a loophole in the statewide smoking ban, many business owners at Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall have voiced concerns that businesses might still be negatively affected.

According to Monash Council’s August bulletin, the smoking legislation coming in effect would still allow smoking in public outdoor areas where drinks and snacks are served if the area is less than 75% enclosed.

This loophole allows cafes and restaurants to convert their outdoor areas to drinking areas instead, where people can smoke while having a drink.

However, business owners disagree and stated this loophole would not take away the negative impact the ban would have on businesses.

Mr Chris at Restaurant With No Name (Oakleigh) said the ban would cause the number of regular customers to “drop drastically”.

“Due to the fact that a lot of our customers who do come, do smoke,” he said.

“And to that effect, if they do ban it, they probably won’t come anymore.”

Ms Connie at Kentro Oakleigh expressed similar concerns and said businesses would “lose out”.

“The thing is, people might still come for a coffee, or a drink, but they won’t be eating, so, I mean, we’re going to be losing out, aren’t we,” she said.

Customers enjoying coffee and a smoke at the outdoor area of a cafe at Oakleigh Eaton Mall

Mayor Geoff Lake said Council would prefer for the State Government to “take the lead” on this issue.

“If we haven’t heard anything positive from the government by the start of next year, then we will get stuck into planning how we will roll out our own powers to make these outdoor dining and eating areas totally smoke-free,” he said.

But Mr George at Yefsi Souvlaki Bar & Café (Oakleigh) said most business owners would rally against the smoking ban.

“I think most of the traders in Eaton Mall will be against it,” he said.

“Because at the moment there is a choice for people to come and sit inside or outside.”

Monash Council have not had a response to the letter sent to the Minister of Health Jill Hennessy, which advocated for a comprehensive ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

Cr Lake said Council remains “very concerned” the legislation might fail to meet the expectations of the Monash community and Council.

“It allows for this legislation to be exploited so that second-hand smoke will still pervade through outdoor areas where families are trying to safely enjoy a meal,” Cr Lake said.

Although Victoria has banned smoking around schools, hospitals, courts and police stations, it will be the last state to impose the ban on outdoor dining areas.

Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, the Heart Foundation (Victoria) and AMA Victoria has made a position statement recommending priority to address this loophole as well.

The myth of entrenching homelessness with free services

FREE food, free showers, and even free laundry services.

These services catered to help the homeless has been criticised as entrenching homelessness by the media early this year.

The notion of well-meaning charities providing an abundance of services has made people want to stay on the streets, the article claimed. 

Melanie Raymond, Chair of Youth Projects Inc., shared her insights on the myth of entrenching homelessness through support services and reducing harm for homeless people on the streets.  

“I think entrenching homelessness is when you don’t provide the support services,” said Ms. Raymond in a talkback forum on the increasingly visible homeless in Melbourne and around Victoria.

The Living Room at Hoiser Lane

The Living Room, launched by Youth Projects Inc., is a Primary Health Service in central Melbourne that provides free healthcare and support to homeless and disadvantaged individuals.

Ms. Beth Bartolo, one of the Practice Coordinators at the facility, said the objective is to offer a safe haven the homeless can turn to, while catering to their basic needs.

The material aids provided free are donations from the public, and simple foods such as coffee and toast are offered during operating hours, Ms. Bartolo explained.

In a radio interview with Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army, he addressed the issue of overwhelming generosity from the public that sends a message between the fine line of helping and harming.

“There’s a fine line between entrenching homelessness, and alleviating homelessness,” said Major Nottle.

Major Nottle also said the public can help by donating to welfare agencies that work with the homeless instead.

Ms. Raymond also addressed this issue in the talkback forum.

“We can’t be misdirected, in that making someone more comfortable for one night is not ending homelessness,” she said.

“The longer term solutions need to be our focus as well, we are not fixing homelessness by having a large quantity of material aid available.”

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