Les is a neighbourhood champion. Working tirelessly to educate his community on waste and eradicate it at its source...
“I have 3 grandchildren, and I have concerns that human impacts on the environment will mean that they will probably not see to live turtles, dugongs and other marine and terrestrial wildlife when they get to my age (63). I want to do whatever I can to make sure they can!”
- Les Barkla
Les lives on the Redcliffe Peninsula, which borders over 20km of waterways and overlooks Moreton Bay. With threatened and endangered turtles and dugong struggling due to the anthropogenic impacts associated to the high-density development of the Moreton Bay, Brisbane and Redlands region (3 million + people), Les wants to do his part to mitigate the impacts that waste is having on the marine environment and his community.
“Seeing the horrendous litter and waste that’s choking the Mekong Delta, when I visited Vietnam in 2017 made me determined to come home and make a difference in my local community. This started through first working with Carolyn Vincent and ‘Mission Litter Pick Up’ in the Moorooka area, which then led to me starting a Facebook Community Group in 2018, called ‘Pristine Peninsula’. We now have nearly 650 members from different parts of the world – addressing environmental issues, which are a problem worldwide”, Les explained.
One of Pristine Peninsula’s key focus areas is to empower local ‘Waste Warriors’ who pick up litter on beaches, parks, shopping centres and major roads before it can flow into the drains leading to waterways, which pollute Moreton Bay.
Having recently returned to the Redcliffe Peninsula, Les uses his experience in environmental projects and education to work with the Redcliffe Peninsula community, clubs and groups, businesses and government, encouraging environmentally sustainable practices to make Redcliffe Peninsula a cleaner place for future generations to enjoy, as well as for the marine animals who call Moreton Bay home.
Les’s Pristine Peninsula Mission is to make Redcliffe Peninsula Australia's Cleanest Community in Australia. He promotes better practices through focusing on his groups 6R’s Strategy:
1) RETHINK what you buy;
2) REFUSE single-use packaging;
3) REDUCE your waste;
4) REUSE what you can;
5) REPAIR what you can;
6) RECYCLE everything you can.
To date, Les and the Pristine Peninsula group have had some inspiring local successes including:
Influencing Chrisco Australia to cease selling plastic and metal tinsel products and transitioning their business practices towards becoming more environmentally friendly;
Co-ordinating solutions for litter hotspots on King Street, Clontarf (alongside a range of partners);
Bringing together Clontarf Beach State High School, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Clontarf McDonalds, and the community to reduce litter between the school, McDonalds and surrounding areas (reignited school education & awareness programs, new Council bins installed, McDonalds reusable container incentives);
Worked with Council to install a new bin at King Street shops;
Instigated a Moreton Region Workshop to address local cigarette butts and balloon litter;
Influenced the need for two additional Containers for Change Recycling Drop-off points on the Peninsula, promoting greater recycling of containers to keep them out of local waterways;
Promotional campaigns to reduce litter and landfill – World Oceans Day, Keep Australia Beautiful and Keep Queensland Beautiful campaigns, beach and waterway cleanups, World Turtle Day, World Environment Day, Plastic Free July, 90 Day ZERO Waste Campaigns leading up to ZERO Waste Week, World Cleanup Day;
Started suburban Litter Waste Warrior Teams on the Peninsula;
Attend local markets promoting better business and household practices.
You can find out more about Les and Pristine Peninsula’s work via their instagram page via @pristinepeninsula
You can also check out their Facebook page.
Photography © Les Barkla