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Everyday hero

Dedication and love is what it takes to clean up NZ streets says everyday hero Alysha Johnson.

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd

The 21 year old earth science student from Auckland has challenged herself to pick up 100,000 pieces of rubbish in 2019.

“I realised that being a part of the community was something that I could grow and improve on,” says Johnson.

She completed a 21 day course at Outward Bound Trust NZ where she learnt about leadership, developing her personal skill set and discovering a love for the environment.

Following the completion of her course, Johnson wanted to make a difference and the idea of picking up rubbish originated from wanting to give back to the community and offer up some of her time to make a positive impact.

“I hope to make the streets cleaner, and try and show how easy it is to make that kind of difference,” says Johnson. “Sometimes it takes five seconds to do, and everyone can do that.”

To date she has picked up 13,922 pieces of rubbish since the beginning of 2019. She wants to normalise the act of picking up rubbish if you see it, rather than walking past and ignoring the issue and takes the same mindset wherever she goes.

Her flatmates, friends and family have been consistently supportive and respectful of her choices, including stopping with her on walks to pick up litter.

Johnson says her Grandma has been a big supporter of her efforts too, calling her almost every weekend.

“Having people supporting you and encouraging me to do it has been fantastic,” she says. “You get some funny looks when you are out and about.”

Johnson is constantly inspired by Sir Roy McKenzie, one of New Zealand’s leading dedicated philanthropists who contributed to the community for more than 50 years, and whose name was the title of her Outward Bound group.

He was a successful businessman in New Zealand who was always giving back to the community and was a big contributor to the Outward Bound Trust, she says.

When responding the New Zealand’s waste and pollution, Johnson believes the majority of us know so much is out of control, most of us recycle and refuse correctly. It’s realising boundaries like fences are redundant when it comes to nature is important. Windy days happen, animals get into rubbish bags and it’s all our responsibility to pick up these odd bits of litter we see.

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