BATHURST is almost 1500 big bags of rubbish better off thanks to Jim Schaerf.
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The regular walker has been collecting litter for years, during which time he has come across everything from a wardrobe full of children's stuffed toys to a bag that had fishing lures in it.
And why does he do it? Because he says he loves his city.
After retiring in 2011, Mr Schaerf joined the Boundary Road Reserve Landcare Group, which is where his passion for preserving the environment began.
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He also started to go on daily walks to maintain his health and physical wellbeing.
It was on these walks, as he roamed the streets of West Bathurst, that he realised how much rubbish was festering on the side of the roads, in parks and waterways.
So Mr Schaerf decided he would incorporate collecting the litter into his daily walks.
"In retirement, I was able to devote a lot of my time to environmental matters," he said.
"I look around me when I go walking and I can see what an impact litter has on Bathurst and any area, for that matter. It's everywhere you go.
"It's entirely up to an individual what they do with a simple thing like a McDonald's drink container.
"Don't blame McDonald's, don't blame the people who provide these containers; it's an individual's responsibility to get rid of their own rubbish."
Mr Schaerf's route usually begins and ends at Hector Park (on Vittoria Street, opposite the jail).
I look around me when I go walking and I can see what an impact litter has on Bathurst and any area, for that matter. It's everywhere you go.
That's where he deposits the rubbish he has collected on his walk, though he saves recyclables such as aluminum cans and has someone collect them from his house.
Mr Schaerf has come across many different improperly discarded items on his rounds and began documenting his collections in January 2016.
Since then, the 75-year-old has accumulated just shy of 1500 big bags of litter from the streets of West Bathurst alone.
The array of rubbish Mr Schaerf has seen ranges from general waste, furniture and children's toys to more dangerous things like syringes and fishing line with hooks attached.
"I do have some concern with what my grandchildren will have to put up with in the future," he said.
"There are so many things that affect our lives as far as environmental matters are concerned.
"A bag contained dangerous fishing lures. If any kid had put their hand in and picked it up - these huge fishing lures with the hooks still left in them.
"These are little things I see that can affect other people's lives."
One of the strangest things Mr Schaerf has come across was a wardrobe full of children's stuffed toys that had been dumped.
He said the toys were in great condition and would have been a lovely donation to a local charity, but before he could do anything about it, rain ruined the toys.
Over the years, Mr Schaerf has developed a good relationship with Bathurst Regional Council and contacts them if he comes across something that is too heavy to dispose of or something that could be hazardous.
"I have a lot of respect for the council engineering department and the girls that look after the office and have heard my requests over the years," he said.
Mr Schaerf was recognised for his huge effort at the Australia Day awards ceremony in 2020, when he received a commendation award presented for the first time by Greening Bathurst.
"I'm very passionate about what I can do," he said.
"I keep fit to start with and I love this city that I grew up in and I want to look after it for as long as I possibly can.
"My message is look after our planet and it will look after us."
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