Alysha's year of cleaning up NZ

Life after OB, Champions

Remember Alysha and her awesome pledge to pick up 100,000 pieces of rubbish in 2019 to raise funds for another student? Well, it was an interesting journey...

Kia ora Alysha, where do you live and what do you do?

I’m currently living in Auckland, spending my time studying at university.

When did you go to Outward Bound?

December 2018, McKenzie 648.

How would you describe the overall OB experience?

Outward Bound was really awesome for my own personal growth, particularly learning how to navigate stressful situations as a group. It taught me a huge amount about leadership, but also about my own strengths and weakness I had not seen before.

What were your reasons for becoming an OB Champion?

I loved the idea of taking on a new challenge personally, while at the same time knowing I would be raising funds to help those who can’t afford their own OB experience.

What have been the highlights of your rubbish collecting journey so far?

Travelling to Fox Glacier to help with the Fox River clean up in August last year! I met many amazing people and saw first-hand how service, paired with a small collection of people, can really make a huge difference.

Any lowlights or challenges?

The main challenge was balancing my workload at university with my rubbish collecting. I was writing my honours thesis in the final months of 2019 and I found it very hard to get myself away from writing to go out and collect rubbish, especially if the weather was bad or I had experienced a bad day.

Approximately how many bags of rubbish do you think you’ve collected so far?

Assuming an average-sized bag holds 100 pieces of rubbish, 345!

What surprised you about the experience?

Public engagement! It was so encouraging to have people I didn't know say "good on you" while I picked up rubbish, or they’d give me the thumbs up. I was also surprised at how it changed my habits and how I think about waste. I am so much more aware of how much waste I create. But I have also noticed that generally if you don't pick it up, no one else will. People see being a ‘tidy Kiwi’ as dealing with their own rubbish, but really it’s about taking care of wherever you go because nature doesn't distinguish between boundaries or property.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming an OB Champion?

Go for it! If you have a long term goal like mine, then set yourself targets along the way to keep on track. With me, I fell behind target really fast which meant I felt discouraged as I was very far away from my goal. Tell all your friends and family about it! If they have your back it is so much easier to fit these kinds of things into your life and they can keep you motivated. My mum would take me out for walks and pick up rubbish with me, that helped me out so much.

What's next for Alysha?

Later this year I will be heading to Australia to do a PhD, likely in something to do with coastal erosion. And picking up any bits of rubbish I see along the way :)

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