Highway Hippies take litter cleanup to the streets
YOUNG Eatonsville couple Ethan Marsh and Seina Hatazoe have no time for rubbish excuses.
This week they started a movement to help clean up peoples' acts, in the form of a volunteer clean-up crew called The Highway Hippies.
The idea was sparked when Ethan went for a walk along the Gwydir Highway on Tuesday and found himself wishing he had brought a plastic bag.
When he found some at a rest stop he put them to good use, filling three large rubbish bags with rubbish from the surrounding area.
"You don't see it until you're on the side of the road," he said.
"When you're driving you can just whiz past at 100km/hr and not see anything but when you get out and walk it, it's disgusting."
With the help of his girlfriend Seina, the 21-year-old went back to the highway later in the afternoon and filled another five bags in the three kilometre stretch.
"I thought to myself we've got to get more people doing this," he said.
Hours later The Highway Hippies Facebook page was born. It has already received more than 1700 likes.
Ethan said his phone hadn't stopped buzzing with notifications and personal messages from people who have been inspired by their efforts.
"I got a message from a lady in Yamba saying she and her four-year-old daughter went to the beach and filled two bags after seeing the page," he said.
"Seeing all this support is fantastic. I'm glad to see there's a really good reaction from the community."
Three extra helping hands also answered a call on Wednesday to help the young couple clean up a larger section of the Gwydir Hwy at Waterview Heights, and together they filled 21 bags - a full skip bin - in just two hours. JR Richards and Sons donated the skip bin for the cause.
Having grown up in a house which was self-sufficient bar a telephone line, Ethan said his parents had instilled in him a strong sense of environmental responsibility.
"It's something that's a part of me and should be a part of everyone," he said.
"People are ignorant, and people don't care sometimes but if we can clean up a 10 kilometre stretch and take a photo showing just how much rubbish we collected I think that's the best weapon we have to impress our message. It's this generation that has to step up."
Ethan said he hoped to eventually cover the whole 145km stretch from Grafton to Glenn Innes.
The next road in his sights is the Pacific Highway.
"I want everyone to become (a Highway Hippy)," he said.
"It's a doable thing to have Australia as clean as a whistle."