Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a tidy, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson and Aunt Lillibet went to Uncle Elton’s to take him a bowl of rainbow jelly and a jumper that Aunt Moss had knitted for Benson’s cousin Elmer, with a big yellow truck on the front. Elmer loved it, especially the truck. On the way home, Aunt Lillibet said, “Look at all this rubbish, littering up the bush!”
Benson looked around. There were plastic bags caught in the bushes, and bits of paper and rubbish all along the track.
“It’s disgusting!” she said. “Look! There are plastic coffee cups and drinking straws and old bottles lying everywhere. Why don’t people take their rubbish home with them?”
“Maybe their houses are already full of rubbish and if they take any more home, their houses will explode and the rubbish will go everywhere,” Benson said.
“Something has to be done about this,” Aunt Lillibet said. As soon as they got home, she got out some paper and a pen. “I’m going to write to the bushcare group and tell them they need to do something about all the rubbish in the bush. And then I’ll write to the Tree Protection committee, and the Volunteer Fire Brigade, and the Animal Welfare people. All this littering has to stop!”
She sat down and wrote letter after letter, and sent them off. The next day she had another idea. “Benson, you can help me make some leaflets to tell everyone to stop littering, and we’ll put them in everyone’s letter-boxes.”
Benson was happy to help. He drew lots of pictures on Aunt Lillibet’s leaflets, of animals tangled up in plastic or hurting themselves on broken glass, or accidentally eating pieces of rubbish and getting sick. Then he helped Aunt Lillibet put them in everyone’s letter-boxes.
When they got home, Aunt Lillibet had an even better idea. “Signs!” she said. “I’ll make lots of signs and put them up on all the trees!” She got big pieces of paper and big paint-brushes and painted lots of signs that said, ‘Littering is for Losers!’ and ‘Rubbish Ruins the Bush!’ and ‘Stop it – Don’t Drop it!’ She stuck them on trees and bushes and fences everywhere.
Then she had an even better idea. “I’ll make a giant banner!” she said. “It will be so big that no-one will be able to miss it!” She made a banner as big as a sheet, and she used all Benson’s paints, writing, ‘The Bush is our Home – Don’t Mess it Up!’ It was so big she had to get Aunt Moss and Benson and his mother to help her tie it up between two trees on the side of the track.
“There!” she said. “Now they’ll get the message!” She went home to wash the paint off her hands and have a rest.
Aunt Moss and Benson’s mother looked at the banner, and said to each other, “She’s right, we should do something about it.”
So they set to work picking up all the rubbish they could find and making a big pile. Before long, other animals saw what they were doing and came to help them. Mr Fenn and Shelley and Uncle Elton and Elmer and all the possums and even the dunnarts joined in. Mr Fenn got some big bags and they filled them up to the top with bottle tops and plastic bags and straws and empty containers. The cockatoos and the kookaburras helped them too, picking out bits of rubbish that had caught in the trees and dropping them into the bags.
When they were finished, everyone looked around happily at their clean, safe environment, and told each other how nice it was to have everything so clean and sparkling.
When Benson and his mother and Aunt Moss got home, Benson went to tell Aunt Lillibet. “Come and look, Aunt Lillibet,” he said. “Every single bit of rubbish is gone!”
They went out and walked down the track together. “Beautiful!” Aunt Lillibet said. “Everyone’s done an excellent job!”
Just then a great big gust of wind swirled through the bush. It tore every one of Aunt Lillibet’s signs off the trees and ripped them into pieces and threw them everywhere. It pulled the banner off the trees and tangled it up, high in the branches.
The clean, tidy bush was covered with bits of rubbish. Aunt Lillibet stared at the mess. She suddenly felt as if she needed to sit down.
Benson looked around, and then he went and got a big, empty, garbage bag. “It looks like you’ll be needing this,” he said. “Let’s get to work. Littering is for losers, you know.”