The Scouts’ motto is ‘Be prepared’, so when the fires hit NSW in the summer of 2019-2020, the 1st Braidwood Scouts of NSW sprung into action to serve their community.
Malcolm Campbell, the Scouts Leader in Charge, with his wife Chris (the Scout Group’s Publicity Officer), along with their kids – Scout members Charlie and Henry, began fundraising for the local fire station through Return and Earn; the drink container deposit scheme in NSW.
“Whilst the local firefighting services protected many local properties, the Group collected their containers and provided them with snacks and drinks from the monies collected,” Malcolm proudly recalls.
“After the fires, Braidwood was very lucky to host a Blaze Aid camp at the local show grounds. The members of this camp provided fantastic support to the local community by reconstructing fences.
“During their time at the show grounds the Braidwood Scouts again provided bins for recyclable containers. A portion of the monies earned during the camp were redirected back to Blaze Aid members through the provision snacks and drinks.”
Both Malcolm and his son Charlie joined Scouts in 2009. They have been involved with the 1st Braidwood Scouts, a one-hour drive east of Canberra, since the group restarted in 2016 – which is when they began trading their empty bottles and cans for cash through Return and Earn program.
“As a group, we were looking to provide the youth members with practical experience on caring for the environment and at the same time, earn money to help fund the various activities the group attends, such as Jamborees and Cuborees [camps],” Malcolm explains.
“In 2018, we approached the local Show Ground committee about placing several drink container recycling bins around the local show grounds during the 2018 show. We had many youth members regularly empty the bin of non-recyclables and consolidated the recycling for delivery to the local return and earn bulk facility.
“This has proved to be a great success both from an education point of view and monies earned.
“The money has and will continue to ensure our fees are kept as low as possible but also allow all our youth members to attend several camps throughout the year (when they can be held) at minimal cost.”
The Scout bins continue to prove successful with great support from the local community as they drop off their recyclables into these bins.
Apart from the success of the program for the Scouts, on a personal level, Malcolm knows it’s changed his habits at home.
“I’ve learned that even a small number of recyclables can make a big difference, with over 83,000 cans and bottles collected and returned since 2018.
“The biggest surprise is the number of different cans and bottles that can and should be recyclable. Even small amounts donated to the group soon add up and can make a big difference to monies earned, and to the environment.”
It’s also been an educational experience for the Campbell family.
“The biggest change for me was consciously looking for the right bin to split my rubbish into, thus separating recycling from the rubbish rather than just dumping them all into the one bin.
“The other change is on our local roads: I constantly stop to pick up stray cans and bottles.”
The small effort of doing something like road collection has added to the overall success of the Scouts’ activities.
For mum Chris, there’s also satisfaction in the team work – both at home and within the group.
“It is wonderful to see our little Scouting family get together to help each other out and to help the community,” she says.
“I love seeing our kids (and our Scout kids) get involved. It's a lovely family that we are a part of here in Braidwood. As a mum, I am extremely proud of our kids’ involvement in the community.”
Return and Earn has seen more than 5 billion bottles and cans returned for recycling since the scheme began over three years ago, reducing drink container litter in NSW by an annual average of 40% while becoming an important fundraising channel for hundreds of community groups across the state.
There are currently over 600 return points across New South Wales. There are different types of return points and the best one for you could depend on how many containers you are returning and how you would like to receive your refund.
For more information, visit Return and Earn.