By Derek Schlennstedt

The Dandenong Ranges has always been known for its beauty and close vicinity to lush forests, but like any location where nature and humans co-exist, the natural surroundings are often impacted upon.
That impact comes in the form of litter and rubbish, which can often be seen floating around Dandenong Ranges townships but two Belgrave residents are doing their best to mitigate the amount of rubbish left on the streets in their hometown.
Mike and Jan Muller have lived in Belgrave since 1985 and in the last six months have spent five days of each week cleaning up the area surrounding Belgrave.
Speaking to The Mail, Jan said they were dedicated to clean-up Belgrave, which had become an eyesore for them on their regular walks.
“We started out on a smaller scale, with just a bag and a stick, and did between our home and Belgrave and then back – just cleaning up our walk,” Jan said.
“Eventually there was too much and it was overflowing and we had to empty it two or three times so we got a little shopping trolley.”
“We just found it offensive to see the place being trashed with rubbish everywhere.”
The couple volunteer their time and use a shopping trolley which is emptied two or three times on their daily round.
Both Jan and Mike said that bottles and cans made up the majority of the rubbish they picked up and that there was also a large number of cigarette butts being thrown onto the sidewalks.
“90 per cent of it is cans and bottles, the rest is receipts and an awful lot of cigarette butts,” they said.
Their two-hour trip around Belgrave sees them cleaning up areas around the Cameo, the Cameo car park, the Safeway car park, both sides of Belgrave main street and finally also parts of Blacksmith Way – an urban street with artwork which they said is now overflowing with trash.
“They have the lovely wall art and mural, and I’ve seen people come off the train to come and look at it but there’s trash everywhere and the bins are overflowing so they go up to the main street instead,” said Jan.
“It’s quite disappointing as it really could be a feature for Belgrave.”
The dedicated duo have no plans to stop and have urged people to think before throwing items onto the street, including in Belgrave which has bins every 50 metres.
“At the very least our community is cleaner and maybe people will take a bit of notice and stop littering or think twice before dropping rubbish and perhaps even pick-up a bit of rubbish.”
“If everyone picked up a bit of rubbish then there wouldn’t be this problem.”

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