THE 1 TONNE CHALLENGE – Dame Phyllis Frost Award 2016


With I’m Really a Mermaid

The One Tonne Challenge was created as a way of giving back to the ocean. Creating the One Tonne Challenge, Josie Jones uses herself as an example to inspire and encourage anyone who heard about her efforts. If one person could collect that 2.3 tonnes of rubbish, then surely this would inspire someone to pick up at least one piece of rubbish, if only once in their lifetime.

Talking about Rubbish is like talking about God. Josie mentioned this to guests recently, in South Australia for “Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries”. There are the ‘converted’, who will tell you all the good they do and somehow you wished you’d never met them, then there’s the ‘atheist’, who believes that the problem does not exist, you have the ‘heathen’, that tells everyone how bad rubbish is. You then have the ‘believers’, they are the ones that know it exists, and want to be a part of the solution, and then you have people like Josie, who are the born again. The born again recognizes that rubbish does exist, and they lead by example to show others a truth that we cannot, sustain or continue to ignore.

Believing that we need to simplify recycling and recycle all plastic, paper and cardboard, Josie empathizes to the general public,  that many people don’t know what does and does not go to recycling, therefore they give up, you only have to open a general waste bin on rubbish day to see this for real, with statistics on public recycling bins, also showing we need an education campaign.

Australia carries an advantage of waste management over the majority of the world. Whilst we are not rich in the future’s true wealth, being water, we are rich in space, to store rubbish and sell it back to producers and manufacturers, rather than continuing to bury it. This is not a new concept but something that is adopted by many other countries, such as San Franciso.

Choosing to be part of a solution, seeing  future generations to look back and praise us for our efforts, is part of the aim of “If you see it pick it up” In our current climate, we will be looked at as ignorant and frowned upon for failing to teach the future generations. Our failure instate a system that will provide jobs and money for future generations, all aiming for zero waste.

We need to stop teaching our children that everything is dirty. There is more germs found on ¼ of the worlds soap and hand wash dispensers, than the inside of a toilet, as we don’t flush with our feet – Source Researcher Jonathon Sexton

Knowing how effective the “if you see it pick it up” motto is, confidence seeing others picking up, encourages us to believe that “one action” turns into many, and that as others adopt the philosophy, so too, will our attitudes towards rubbish as bad and wrong, begin to change. Currently in Rye there is community participation, in which we all can see the great effects picking up does and we are inspired to stop making people feel bad about touching rubbish, first in the street.

In attending the beach at least 5 times a week, people will remark on seeing Josie again and again. Thanking her for collecting the rubbish and even handing her rubbish, they themselves, have collected on their walk. Other people ask, if she is “getting paid to collect rubbish”, that ‘She is a better person than them” for doing it, or others will leave the beach before they have contact with her, as this is their way of dealing with the issue.

In all the collection, Josie does not ask anyone to help her, “I allow my actions to be an example to others and the word of mouth of my efforts, give leverage to the I’m really a mermaid campaign. I am passionate about changing the views and habits of Australian’s and beyond, about effective waste management and lending a hand”.

Being dubbed the “One Tonne Mermaid”, thanks to National Geographic,  has given Josie the chance to be an inspiring example. The community of Rye is proud of her efforts and have gone as far as recognizing that the stretch of beach that she cleans, is considered the most pristine along the coast. Over the past 2 years Josie has seen a definite effect and improvement to the beach of 6.4 km that she cleans. “I do go to other areas and clean, but I do not document the collection of this rubbish within the challenge. I also collect rubbish from the streets and anywhere, when I possibly can, however I find the problem of rubbish to be overwhelming in certain areas”.

Josie has found the argument between responsibility, frustrating, when communicating dumped rubbish areas to the council through their rubbish management – infrastructure maintenance team. I find they are very helpful, however I also note that their ability to act is restricted and this includes their jurisdiction to attend to my calls on rubbish. Rubbish can sit in areas up to 6 months and several calls, before it will be collected. Rubbish deliberately being left after sighted, called in, to see how long it would take to collect, see’s another gap in the system, where community can play a positive role. Introducing a pick up and weigh in scheme may be something to help the issue of jurisdiction, encouraging organization to pick it up, rather than say it’s not their responsibility.

Josie grew up in Gippsland in a Shell Service Station, a very social person and an occupation as a designer, Josie has a reputation for bringing success to businesses.  The opportunity to speak with locals, individuals has Josie well verses on the problems business face with waste management and how people go about “how we do rubbish” here in the Mornington Peninsula.

Attentive to note that a system is in place and that those working are doing their best, however, as a person who is meticulous on waste management, Josie see’s and knows of many short comings in the waste management system, which does not effectively reduce waste to landfill. In business, there are insufficient waste management collection and insufficient bins to accommodate for all the recycling that is going to landfill. Not light in her claims and stating this problem to the judges of KABV last year and she was told we are doing many great things , which she acknowledges, however her passion is with waste management and allowing the community to understand their role in a better today and a better future.

Not to deny we are doing great things, it is impossible not to see some positive change, given the resources going to waste management. However, we are missing the mark when it comes to rubbish management. Collection of waste is tendered out to contractors and often given to the lower submissions to get the contracts, this in turn causes an issue with collection. Due to the low submission, the contractors will only pay for one truck and one driver, when in fact in peek season, the run requires 2 – 3 trucks to keep up with the demand of the waste. Speaking to several drivers, they all bare the same conclusion and all of them feel; ‘we could do it better’

Locals in the Rye area complain of no bins to effectively separate waste, the bins are not conducive and a large proportion plastic is going to landfill. The community does not feel heard and complain that Sorrento and Portsea gain the funding for nice bins, nice streets and that our community from Rye onwards to Melbourne is left to fend for themselves. Whilst dramatic, this is the general feeling of the community.

Sensitive in this subject, to not offer band-aid responses, but to in fact create a plan to manage waste more effectively. There is no campaign for waste management on the peninsula and requests have been made to the Mornington Peninsula shire to support the I’m Really a Mermaid campaign. It is difficult to remain positive, when the facts of negatives seem to over ride. Josie is inspired to see the community themselves, loving and adopting the I’m Really a Mermaid campaign, thanks to the knowledge of her efforts in the “one tonne challenge”.

Whilst we do not take a positive campaign towards rubbish, here on the Peninsula, it’s seen on our street,s filled with rubbish, dumping of goods to roadsides, due to the perception of high tip fees, the failure to effectively recycle and the inability for community to understand the Landcare Levy. Our freeways are strewn with rubbish and roadsides show dumping where there are no bins. Attending schools, waste lay in the gutters, within the schoolyard, under buildings and the desire for a better world grows.  Josie has personally filmed  these environments,  more than most, she is  attentive to waste “out of place” and all the items, she is picking up from the sea, is what she see’s within the above-mentioned environments.

This is not a fabricated view, you only need to open a bin on bin day to see, and how much recycling is going to landfill and to our knowledge, this waste is not separated. Rubbish truck drivers, tip workers, ocean divers, council workers, waste management aall say we could do it better, that money should not be a priority.

The wider concern is the rubbish in the CBD making it’s way into Port Phillip Bay, once upon a time Melbourne was a clean city in which we took pride of who we are. Living in Melbourne from 1991 – 2003, before moving to Tahiti, Josie has seen a big change in the cleanliness of the CBD. Now, you walk in Melbourne, in any suburb and you see rubbish on our streets, it’s become a common and accepted thing, but for Josie, who is passionate about the environment, she feels consistently powerless in her role and only wish she could do more. Vacant blocks are strewn with rubbish and the blame game of who is responsible inhibits the ability for us to get the job done.

Whilst there is no perfect solution, there is evidence, that we need to adopt an effective rubbish system from a small country, such as Sweden. We can not afford to mismanage waste, that has a proven record for creating jobs and selling back rubbish as a resource of manufacturing. A national campaign on “waste management” which aims at the ‘believers’ and allows community participation, which will therefore ensure longevity and success. The One Tonne Challenge is part of the I’m really a mermaid campaign, developed from the fact that some many people love Mermaids. The mystical messenger of the ocean, who brings warning and attention to that dependent on the land for our livelihood and the ocean as part of our food supply.


Dame Phyllis Frost

An Australian welfare worker and philanthropist, known for her commitment to causes, such as helping prisoners. She chaired the Victorian Women’s Prisons Council for many years, established the Keep Australia Beautiful movement, worked for freedom from hunger and raised millions of dollars for charity.

2 thoughts on “THE 1 TONNE CHALLENGE – Dame Phyllis Frost Award 2016

  1. Hi Josie,good to see you today at Knock on Wood. Great to see Nat in the video!

    Just wanted to say I found your video VERY inspiring and a call to action. I would of thought the Victoria Education sector of our State Government should endorse the message and have it screened in every school in Victoria at least!

    Keep up the great work.


  2. The video should be shown, and be part of every school curriculum around Australia and the world.
    Appreciate the many hours and effort you put in to make this an amazing documentary.

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