Support your community with recycling
Around Australia, there is a demand for donations. This summer has seen significant drought around Australia affecting small communities, farmers and livestock. The hot and dry summer has stripped soils of moisture. As a result water storages are down in every state and territory (1). Tony Webber from WaterNSW has described that the drought situation is serious. Mr Webber explained that the situation was not only economically damaging but also impacted on the emotions of community members who are reliant on surface water. He said 'many of these small communities are now dependent on groundwater where that is available, but the situation for landholders not regulated has been very, very dire for quite some time'.
The ABC reported that the current drought is unprecedented. 55 towns are currently at risk of running out of water if they haven't already (2). Gardens are dead, people are skipping showers and the water quality of water has worsened. The big dry is dominating conversations across the country in pubs, cafes and homes. States and councils are being forced to dig deep - giving out hundreds of millions of dollars for emergency water infrastructure. The NSW government has committed $250 million to emergency water infrastructure projects in the past two years. The very existence of some small towns could be in jeopardy if a long-term water supply is not available.
As well as water for residents, the relentless drought is impacting on livestock. The Bureau of Meteorology is not forecasting any improvement until March 2020. The cost of keeping livestock during the drought has beaten most. Rural sale yards are having their biggest yarding in decades. Peter Bird, a livestock auctioneer said that 'there would be people's livelihoods being sold at the moment, to make way for the lack of feed and water'. He further shared that 'it's a forced sale, it's things we do because of the weather'. The drought has seen the national heard drop to around 25 million head, a level not seen since the 1990s (3).
With the drought impacting significant numbers of farmers, families, and communities across Australia - individuals and organisations are wanting to offer support. Recycling is offering financial assistance to some affected by drought. Pittsworth Metals in Queensland reported that two ladies have been cashing in containers for over a year, then purchasing animal feel for drought-affected farmers. They shared that 'today I had the pleasure of hanging with Franky and Barb as we cashed the cans and bottles Leyburn to Karara so generously donated. Thanks to the excellent staff at Containers for change, we got through in no time. After a quick bite to eat, we were back on the road to change that Cash into feed. Today’s haul brought 20 bales of hay and 16 bales of chaff for hungry animals!! Thank you, everyone, for your awesome efforts.' Donations to farmers have such a positive impact, well-done ladies!
Another organisation, Bottle for the Bush is helping rural families affected by bush fires with recycling. They have recognised that our farmers are facing unprecedented bush fires and drought. The good news is individuals can help by donating empty drink containers this summer. Every recyclable container raises 10c for the Bottles for the Bush Appeal and all funds raised go to Rural Aid which supports farmers and rural communities that need support (4). The original goal of the organisation was to raise $250,000 by February 2020. Incredibly the organisation raising well over $400,000 already. 100% of donations are going to Rural Aid to supply rural communities with food, water and hay. Interestingly, 20 containers provide 1 liter of water, 200 containers are equal to 1 standard hay bale while 500 containers are food for a family. More information on how you can donate can be found at their website.
In Guyra, New South Wales the Smith family has been significantly impacted by the drought. Guyra is located in the northern tablelands of NSW, It is desperately dry, unlike anything Derek and Fiona Smith have previous experiences on their 1210 hectare farm. The family has sold their cattle with the exception of 12 head which is being fed sprouted barley. Otherwise, all that remains is the 2000 laying hens that range freely on their paddocks. The hens are fed pelleted ration and barley sprouts and are guarded by three Maremma dogs. The family is optimistic that when the rains come, their paddocks will respond. Especially as their chickens contribute to the nutrient cycle by fertilising the ground. Rural Aid spokesman, Craig Marsh said the Bottles for Bush initiative will have wide-ranging impacts, 'the realities of Australia's harsh conditions and natural disasters are devastating for our farmers on many levels. It's not only the farmers that are affected – businesses, both large and small that support farmers and the rural communities also feel the economic effect'. (5)
Another organisation, Food Bank is asking people to turn empty containers into a donation and help those in need. Food Bank Queensland is part of Containers for Change enabling people to turn recycling into cash donations for Food Bank. Food Bank is Australia's largest food relief organisation. They operate on a scale that makes it crucial to the work of front line charities who feed vulnerable Australians including drought-affected farmers and communities. Incredibly, Food Bank provides 77 million meals a year (6). That is 210,000 meals a day! The organisation accounts for 79% of all food received by charities from food rescue organisations.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/ 2019-03-12/state-of-the- drought-is-not-good/10876716
https://www.abc.net.au/news/ 2020-01-27/how-long-until- drought-stricken-towns-run- out-of-water/11655124
https://www.abc.net.au/news/ 2020-01-08/cattle-price- increases-forecast-as-drought- continues/11797332
https://www.foodbank.org.au/ turn-your-empty-containers- into-a-donation-and-help- those-in-need/?state=sa