Nurturing nature in downtime

June 4, 2020 BY

With Helen Johnston’s employment impacted by the coronavirus, the Queenscliff house-sitter is using her time to clean up local beaches with dogs Tali and Kya.

AS A CASUAL employee, Helen Johnston has had no work over the past couple of months due to the pandemic, but the beach and nature lover has found a way to keep busy.
“I’m a regular house-sitter and am currently house-sitting in Queenscliff. For the last two months, I’ve been walking along beaches around Swan Bay, near Stevens Street collecting rubbish,” Ms Johnston said.
“There’s a few big pieces I haven’t managed to get (like an arm chair) but I’ve been cleaning it up a bit in my spare time.”
Ms Johnston said after she was stood down from her educational environmental role she started incorporating the beach clean-ups on her walks.
“As a casual, I normally get a few shifts but with what’s been going on I haven’t had any. I found a bucket on one of my walks and started to fill it with rubbish.
“I’ve collected a lot of fishing waste: ropes, fishing lures, bait bags and lots of plastic bottles and cans. The rope has been surprising, lots and lots of rope.”
After joining Greenpeace as an eight-year-old, Ms Johnston volunteers for four different environmental organisations but said you don’t have to sign up, to make a difference.
“After I’ve collected the rubbish, it makes me feel really good. I’ve been thinking that with the spare time, people could do more things that make you feel good – like helping
the environment.
“We have the time, so I thought it’s a good idea. It’s helped keep my spirits up, doing something that’s helpful is very fulfilling and that can make you happy.
“If I collect rubbish in the morning when I’m walking my dogs, I feel good for the rest of the day. If you’re sitting at home, there’s lots of ways you can volunteer in the community without signing up.”
While several buckets of rubbish may not seem like a massive amount, Ms Johnston said it makes a difference to the animal who won’t digest or get tangled in it.
“If everybody did a little bit, in the end that’s one bird, or one turtle that doesn’t eat the rubbish. You’ve saved that animals life.
“You can feel overwhelmed sometimes like you’re not doing a big enough job but in your local area you probably are, just by collecting a little bit of rubbish, it’s all about doing little bits where you can.”

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