Down and out to man on a mission: The incredible story behind the yellow rubbish bags
Two years ago, 34 year-old New South Wales man Ayden Wyse was homeless and broke, had cut ties with his family and was in a deep depression.
Since then, he’s travelled from New South Wales to the Northern Territory and Queensland and has earned gratitude and respect from communities along the way, through picking up tonnes and tonnes of rubbish for free.
According to Mr Wyse, it was one simple decision aimed at shucking off his demons that changed everything.
“My ex missus took my kids and I didn’t want to go down the same road as other blokes and hit the drugs and the grog,” he told Tropic Now.
“I knew I needed to shake it off so I got out and started exercising - jogging - and that’s when I noticed the rubbish and I started picking it up.”
He hasn’t stopped since.
From his home in the Clarence River region, he’s hitchhiked his way to community after community on a mission to clean the country one road at a time.
“Once I’ve finished the town I’ll start hitching and the universe will tell me where to go,” he said.
“It just works somehow, through the generosity of the communities.
“I have no expectations, so no let downs.”
This week, the universe brought Mr Wyse to Cairns and his trademark yellow plastic bags have been lining the roads of the city and suburbs since.
Without a car, he relies on the help of strangers and local councils to get the bags into bins.
Traversing the city on foot, he’s not only gained intimate knowledge of the streets, but also the rubbish hot spots.
“Pease Street and Anderson Street to the cemetery, that was 16 bags of rubbish,” he said.
“Out the front of the TAFE to the roundabout there was another ten bags.”
Today, Mr Wyse was treated to a free lunch at the Cairns RSL.
He’s not sure where he’s staying tonight but he’s not worried, telling Tropic Now that the lifestyle is part of the mission, which he’s on in part to make his young children proud.
“It took two years to see my kids, battling through the courts,” he said.
“I was at the end of my rope and this is my legacy.
“Instead of just taking the easy way out, I did this and that old person died and I’ve been reborn.”
Mr Wyse is now planning to take his calling global and make rubbish collecting contagious.
He’s promised anyone overseas that if they fill a bag of rubbish and post it on his facebook page, he’ll find a way to get there to clean up the rest of the neighbourhood.
“Many hands make light work, we can change this world but we’ve got to do it together."