Taupō earth warrior Carol Lamb: Five years, 11 tonnes of rubbish

Taupō earth warrior Carol Lamb: Five years, 11 tonnes of rubbish

You’ve seen her around Taupō wearing her Tidy Taupō vest and carrying a bag.

She’s well-known and incredibly passionate about looking after the planet. She’s Tidy Taupō founder and stalwart Carol Lamb and she was a deserved winner of a 2021 Lake Taupō Rotary Community Service Award.

The anti-litter campaigner has picked up 11 tonnes of litter in and around Taupō and an additional two tonnes in Whakatane over the years.

Councillor John Williamson, who presented Carol with her award, said she was “an unselfish contributor to her community”.

“Carol has tirelessly patrolled Taupō for a number of years documenting and tirelessly collecting rubbish from a wide area.

“Her particular passion is keeping Wairakei Drive clear of litter which can amount to 40 to 50kg per month. She is an inspiration and totally walks the talk when it comes to doing the right thing.”

Taupō earth warrior Carol Lamb: Five years, 11 tonnes of rubbish

Carol Lamb collecting litter on Spa Rd. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

Carol says the award was not just for her but for all the other dedicated Tidy Taupō volunteers. She has also been awarded a Harcourts Good Sort Award and Pride Whakatane award.

Carol originally took up rubbish collecting as a way of keeping fit – “it’s nature’s gym”. She picks up litter wherever she sees it and says more people are needed as the rubbish problem is getting worse. In August 2016 she picked up 34kg over a month. In August 2020, it was 50kg.

She says even people who wouldn’t throw rubbish from a car can be careless when it comes to not bothering to secure the contents of their recycling bins on windy days, leaving the plastics to blow away.

She is also incredibly frustrated by people who fail to secure their loads on trailers, utes and trucks, estimating half of the roadside litter in the district is blown off the back of vehicles. Along the side of Broadlands Rd is particularly bad, where rubbish headed for the landfill is blown off en route. Unsecured plastic and polystyrene from building sites is a problem too.

One thing Carol’s particularly concerned about is what she calls New Zealand’s car drinking culture, where people will drive along with their passengers – and sometimes them too – swigging alcohol, and then toss the bottles or cans out the window.

Taupō earth warrior Carol Lamb: Five years, 11 tonnes of rubbish

Carol Lamb has campaigned for rules to ensure people to cover or secure their loads en route to the landfill to prevent rubbish being blown off. Photo / Supplied

Other times she will find bags full of rubbish – all bagged up and otherwise tidy – but the person was too cheap to buy a $1.50 sticker to have it collected.

“It is disheartening,” Carol admits. “I’m grateful that I’ve got other people on board to keep me going. We’ve got maybe six or seven regular people picking up but we need more people to care. We need to encourage family and friends to find their environmental heart.”

But little things keep her going. Knowing she’s making Taupo a better place. The school kids that jump out of cars to say hi. Seeing Wairakei Drive, “our pride and joy”, looking good.

“It’s rewarding when you look back and see it, I think it’s good for your wellbeing.”

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