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Volunteers will give the Avon a much needed clean up

21th August 2013

This Sunday more than 40 volunteers will give the Avon a much needed clean up

Over the past month, Christchurch residents have braved the weather to participate in ‘Let’s Keep New Zealand Beautiful Together’ litter pick up days. The pick- ups have mainly focused on the Heathcote and Avon river margins.

Run by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, the clean ups are part of a nationwide initiative aimed at educating and encouraging Kiwis to re-duce, re-use and re-cycle – all thanks to Keep New Zealand Beautiful, Keep Christchurch Beautiful and Coca-Cola Foundation Beverage Container Recycling Community Grants.

With seven people at the Heathcote River on Saturday 4th August, more than quarter of a tonne of rubbish was collected. ‘This included bottles, bags, clothes, signs, pipes, children’s toys, and plastic; over 50kg of this waste could have been recycled, but due to contamination and decay this instead went to landfill, where some of the waste will take up to a million years to break down’, said Kelly Baker of Conservation Volunteers.

”This wasn’t your typical litter pick-up; Conversation Volunteers provided all the equipment I needed and gave an informative briefing on the importance of this job. From this, I knew we were making a difference. The amount of rubbish we took from the Heathcote within two hours was huge and I’m really glad I helped out.” (Jaz Hamilton, student at University of Canterbury).

The litter pick-ups have involved schools, community groups and the public. Through these events, awareness about the negative impact of litter on the environment, in particular waterways and the wildlife has been emphasised. Research has estimated that for every square kilometre of water in the ocean, there is 20,000 pieces of plastic debris. Volunteers have also been encouraged to visit and make a personal pledge; this is to contribute to positive environmental changes, such as biking instead of driving, using less water or volunteering on local projects.

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Marty Leith (candidate for The People’s Choice Community Board Burwood-Pegasus) came out to Porritt Park, where 150kg of litter was collected, "As a resident of the East side of Christchurch, it was refreshing and encouraging to engage with Conservation Volunteers to actively make an improvement to our local environment. The support provided by Conservation Volunteers was professionally managed with some incite prior to our litter pickup on the dangers to our environment of everyday domestic refuse. Subsequent to our litter pick up a reflection and analysis on the refuse we had picked up was very conscious raising, I was especially made aware of the long term failure to decompose of every day waste such as the common drinking straw given out by Retailers, and the sad reality the many birds and fish in our food chain are indulging in the most dangerous toxins and rubbish casually discarded by us all.”

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand run conservation and environmental programmes including habitat regeneration, enhancing our waterways and protecting New Zealand’s special habitats and wildlife.

Founded in Australia in 1982, Conservation Volunteers expanded operations to New Zealand in 2006. Today, Conservation Volunteers is a leader in delivery of practical conservation programmes, community involvement and a range of training programmes involving over 10,000 volunteers across Australia and New Zealand every year.

For more information visit


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