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Exstrawdinary honour for our own Local Hero

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A year after being crowned Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Citizen of the Year, anti-litter campaigner Josie Jones has been named the 2020 Victoria Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards. The latest honour is further acknowledgement of the Rye resident’s tireless fight for a cleaner planet. 

Josie helps run the Peninsula’s Last Straw campaign, which had its origins in a workshop run by the Shire. The initial goal was to pilot the campaign in Dromana and it has since branched out to 11 towns. “So far we have started in Sorrento, Dromana, Mount Martha, Blairgowrie and Rye,” Josie said. “Due to funding from National Geographic, we will now be able to focus on the next phase: Portsea, Crib Point, Hastings, McCrae and Balnarring.”

The idea behind the volunteer-driven campaign is simple: target a key litter item by persuading shop owners to swap plastic straws for paper ones that are provided free of charge for three months. “The goal is to have half of all shops on the Peninsula switching to paper straws by the end of 2020.”

Josie began her first anti-litter campaign shortly after moving to Rye in 2011. The One Tonne Challenge encouraged residents to join her in collecting litter from the foreshore. Since then she has launched several successful campaigns to reduce litter and tackle waste, including Only Butt, which is aimed at reducing the number of cigarette butts that end up in our bays.

Being named Citizen of the Year has given Josie a platform from which to engage the broader Peninsula community in her mission. Her anti-litter campaigns have gained national attention, including television coverage and support from National Geographic and the University of Tasmania.

Josie’s message to all Peninsula residents is simple: “Immerse yourself in your community and volunteer. Litter is something that can only be solved by the community as a whole, which includes the Shire, businesses and local residents. We all need to play a role, so I urge everybody to do what they can and take action. As we raise the standard and fill in the gaps, we are seeing the positive results.”

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