Layne a local hero

RUBBISH COLLECTOR: Mother Vanessa Utz said her son had been environmentally aware from a young age.
RUBBISH COLLECTOR: Mother Vanessa Utz said her son had been environmentally aware from a young age.

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Layne Utz has become a local hero for his efforts collecting rubbish on the streets of Thornlands.

After noticing rubbish around Thornlands while walking his dog in August, Layne started taking to the streets several times a week.

“At first I took a plastic bag with me, picking up everything I saw, but there was too much,” he said.

“Then it just grew from there.”

When Layne began to collect more litter than would fit in one or two plastic bags, he created a rubbish collection device consisting of a bin strapped to a trolley and rigged to open with the pull of a string.

He would usually fill the bin the whole way on his trips, he said.

Layne said he was optimistic about the future of rubbish in the Redlands, and had already noticed a decline in the amount of rubbish he was collecting each day around certain areas.

“Especially on the main road, I don’t find anything near as much as I’d find at the start,” he said.

“I just hope that’s not me imagining it, I hope people are changing in some way.”

Mother Vanessa Utz said Layne had always been environmentally-conscious, doing his first rubbish run at age four.

“He was down the creek with the family and we saw a green council bin and a bit of tire floating there,” Ms Utz said. 

“We were down at the creek, and Layne asked me why there was a bike tire and a green council bin floating there, and was it supposed to be there,” she said.

“I said sometimes people dump things in the creek illegally, and Layne said he if it wasn’t supposed to be in there, he didn’t want it in there, and asked his dad to wade into the creek and get it out.”

On his walks, Layne said he had found an array of strange items, including Halloween balloons, a destroyed laptop and a full carton of eggs. 

UPSTANDING CITIZEN: Layne takes his bin around the streets and parks of Thornlands.

UPSTANDING CITIZEN: Layne takes his bin around the streets and parks of Thornlands.

After documenting his finds on his Facebok page Layne’s Rubbish Collection, Layne said he had received a huge community response from fans.

“I never planned or would have expected the outcome of this at all,” he said.

“It’s just mindblowing really, the support I’m getting.

“The Facebook page is growing really fast, and people will stop and say hello out on the streets as well. 

“You get mixed reactions, but usually people are pretty positive.

“I’ve had people ask if I’m doing community service before.”

Layne’s efforts on the streets earned him a position as a finalist in the Young Citizen of the Year category for the Redlands Coast Australia Day Awards in 2019.

“I wouldn’t have expected it at all, it’s absolutely incredible,” he said.

“I’m so proud,” Ms Utz added.

“It’s so great he is being recognised for the work he’s doing.

“It’s so rare to find a young person who cares so much about the environment.”

Cr Paul Golle, who nominated Layne for the award, said he was concerned about litter in the Redlands, and had appealed for state support to remove rubbish on state government roads.

He added that although mowing contractors were supposed to remove rubbish before mowing, the process did not appear to be working and rubbish was building up everywhere and impacting on waterways.