‘I’m sick of cotton littering our roadsides, it’s an eyesore on the environment’

Oct 03, 2019
Cotton bolls littering the roadsides are an eyesore. Source: Getty Images

One thing that annoys me when travelling in Australia through New South Wales and Queensland is the cotton all over the side of our beautiful roads. Have you ever driven along roads strewn with white tufty cotton?

I am sure anyone who has travelled outside of the city would have seen it. It looks disgusting in my opinion. It looks like someone has blown their nose on a thousand tissues and dumped them. It looks like small pieces of used toilet paper flying everywhere.

Obviously no one cares or the roadsides would not be like this. It makes me mad. It makes me extremely sad. I travel quite a lot, in most states of Australia. There are so many beautiful places to go and see. Most of the roadsides are reasonably clear of litter. It is a pleasure to drive along them.

However, it soon becomes clear in which areas cotton is grown. I have nothing against cotton per se. Cotton is a beautiful fibre. It is cool, crisp and clean. But, when this fluffy white stuff appears along the sides of the roads, I do not like it. It spoils the landscape.

It must be a danger to animals grazing along the sides of the road. I mean, what would happen if an animal ate the cotton fluff? Choke? Maybe even get a stomach full of cotton debris and die a slow painful death from a seized up bowel or stomach.

I am sure if I ate the fluffy stuff, things would not be too pleasant in my digestive tract. The average person would be fined thousands of dollars for littering like this. Oh yes, you or I would be in deep trouble if we stood there throwing this litter out along the roadsides. But, I’m guessing those driving the trucks from where this cotton has blown away from get away with it. Time and time again, year after year. They do not seem to care about the mess they make.

There are signs all over the outback, asking trucks to dump their dust before entering a town, asking the carriers to spray the animals in the tick bay before proceeding. Why are there not signs telling the cotton carriers to cover their loads or pick up their mess?

I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to cover the load so the pesky white fluff would not blow all over the road. There has to be a way to stop all this fluff blowing all over the countryside. Lots of goods are transported in covered containers or held down by tarp so nothing can escape. I don’t see why a cotton bale couldn’t also be covered.

Cotton season is when law enforcement should be out ensuring this litter doesn’t clump into mounds at the side of the road. A reminder to growers and those carting the picked cotton would be a good start!

There must be tonnes of this stuff about the place. I am sure some enterprising soul would make an absolute fortune if that person was dedicated enough to collect all this waste. Heck, I reckon one could make enough undies for a thousand people out of it. There is no end to the uses of this litter.

Cotton is expensive, the average Aussie cannot afford to buy pure cotton garments. Yet, here it is, absolute waste, all over the side of the road. It goes on for hundreds of kilometres, sometime really thick and other times not so much, but all the while it is there. Maybe we should start a petition to stop all this litter.

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