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August 09 Edition Cover

Docklander - February 2020

29 Jan 2020

Docklander - February 2020 Image

Nipping it in the bud

By Aphrodite Feros-Fooke

Sierra Laidman and Adam Weiss are passionate about cleaning up Docklands and keeping rubbish out of our waterways.

words by Aphrodite Feros-Fooke

In the two years they have lived in Australia, the pair has joined a range of environmental programs and volunteer organisations, set up a Docklands branch of Love Our Street, worked with corporations to reduce littering through advocacy and education, and all while expanding their business internationally.

Along with a group of Docklands residents, they started Love Our Street 3008 less than a year ago. Their first clean-up event was in September 2019 alongside Spring Clean Our City. They ran a stand-alone event in October.

“We were interested in starting this branch of Love Our Street to do litter clean-up and advocate for a cleaner Docklands,” Adam said.

“We are the last place that everything passes before it ends up in Port Phillip Bay.”

Sierra and Adam were successful applicants in the 2019 Nature Stewards program, run by Outdoors Victoria together with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the City of Melbourne.

Sierra spoke highly of the program, “It was fabulous to find out about the ecology of the area, ways to get involved with organisations as volunteers and possible careers. That’s how we connected to Yarra River Keepers who do Yarra Blitz clean-ups every couple of months and we started going to those.”

This led them to find out about the well-established environmental organisations, Ocean Crusaders and Beach Patrol. Love Our Street is an arm of Beach Patrol.

Sierra said, “It’s been a great way to get connected with other people who have the same values and ideas and want to make Docklands more of that community feel.”

Sierra and Adam moved to Docklands from California, USA in 2017 to set up the Australian branch of their business.

“The Victorian government was really enthusiastic about our business being here,” Adam said.

Their business AppDemoVideos.com makes media for technological products, applications, software and hardware. “Predominately marketing, with some customer support and training,” Sierra said.

They return to the US a couple of times a year. Adam added, “Melbourne is our primary residence and we hope to apply for permanent residency once we are qualified.”

They have an office on Collins St but often work from home, out of the shared space in their Docklands building, The Quays, or in the NAB co-working space.

“Docklands is really central without feeling like you are in the CBD, there is more space and more public areas,” Adam said.

Their view of the water has clearly made them reflect on our impact on the bay.

“Depending how you look at it, the structure of the bay means most of it [the litter] doesn’t flow out because it’s a big body of water with a small exit so most plastic ends up staying in the bay and washing onto the beaches,” Adam said.

They said Beach Patrol’s approach was two-pronged in stopping the rubbish reaching the waterways through street clean-ups, as well as through beach clean-ups.

Their efforts extend to working with businesses to advocate and educate their employees through staff inductions.

“One of the huge areas we have been focusing on is cigarette butt litter … and it’s employees in Docklands who are dropping cigarette butts when they come out on their lunch break,” Adam said.

The pair has made good connections with NAB, which has sent employees to volunteer at the clean-ups. They are also in discussions with MAB Corporation. The group can collect around 9000 cigarette butts in an hour with 30 to 40 people. “You can pick them up but you know next week they will be back,” Sierra said.

She said studies had shown that if one cigarette butt ends up in the water it will kill half of what lives in a whole litre, and that the number one source of marine litter in the world, by number, is cigarette butts.

They are keen to discourage littering with multiple approaches and want to warn people of the financial risks of not binning your butt.

“The fine is $330 if the cigarette is not lit, and $660 if it is lit,” Adam said.

“City of Melbourne has told us that there is a team out on a regular basis with targeted enforcement in Docklands.”

“The real goal is to get people to not drop things to begin with.”

Love Our Street 3008 run monthly meet-ups in Docklands. The next event will be held on February 16 at 10.45am, meeting at Cow up a Tree. BYO gloves!

For more visit:

loveourstreet.com.au or follow @loveourstreetsdocklands3008 on Facebook and Instagram

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