What Is Clean Up Australia Day?

Man Picking Up Trash On Beach

What's in the article?

The 'dirty' truth

On average, Australia produces about 67 tonnes of waste every year, and it’s even more alarming that this number is expected to rise year on year. The level of pollution has also had a significant impact on attractions that are on many people’s bucket list to see whilst they are studying or visiting Australia.

It's not all that bad...

But there is good news: statistics have pointed out that Australia has also shown improvements in its recycling attempts year on year. Clean Up Australia Day is among the largest community-based environmental events that is held in this effort.

Want to know how you can join thousands of Australian every year to make a difference to the environment through simple actions? Read on to learn more about Clean Up Australia Day and how you can get involved. 

What is Clean Up Australia day?

Clean Up Australia Day is an annual environmental event that is held every first Sunday of March and attracts thousands of people. On this day, members of the community, individuals, businesses, friends, and families across the country come together in an effort to protect the environment through charity work by cleaning up and preserving Australia’s incredible landscape. No matter how old you are, you can join the community and step up to clean up during this major environmental event.

How was Clean Up Australia founded?

It all started in January 1989, with the idea coming from a Bicentenary event called Clean-up Lake Macquarie. Following this was the local “Clean up Sydney Harbour” event in 1989 with more than 40,000 participants, which collected 5,000 tonnes of rubbish. In 1990, then prime minister Bob Hawke also offered his support for the event by holding The 1990 Clean Up Australia Day. 


Ian Kiernan - A legend of help

As of 1990, by collecting data from participants, “The Rubbish Report” had concluded that 94% of waste was from packaging. But it wasn’t until 1993 that Ian Kiernan did the unexpected and brought a focus to sorting the rubbish collected into recyclables.

Working as a sailor, Ian was disgusted by the amount of rubbish that he encountered in the oceans of the world on his voyages. He took matters into his own hands by using Clean Up Australia Day to advocate for changes to legislation surrounding the reduction of packaging and returning packaging to companies. As a result of this action, by 1994, over 8,000 sites were cleaned up as a result of the movement. 

But it didn’t just stop there. In 2008, Ian Kiernan shifted the focus to bottled water, advocating for the expansion of container deposit refunds in Australia. 

The spirit lives on..

It’s always hard to believe, all of this happened as a result of the humble vision of one man:

“Simple, easy actions can protect the health of our water resources and help save drinking water supplies. There is not one individual who cannot help to make a difference to the health of the environment”.

Although the organisation was later forced to let go of all its paid staff because of sponsorship cutbacks and a drop in private donations, Ian Kiernan’s vision continues to inspire hundreds of thousands of people every year to address Australian environmental issues.

What is the meaning of Clean Up Australia Day?

Clean Up Australia Day has succeeded in fostering relationships between the community, business and government by creating a platform for everyone to join hands to address the environmental issues of waste, water and climate change. Many other projects and campaigns have grown from Clean Up Australia Day to fix up and conserve the environment, including Business Clean Up Day, Schools Clean Up Day, Clean Up the Alps, Clean Up Kimberley and Clean Up the World. 

On the first Sunday of March every year, Clean Up Australia empowers thousands of Australian people in various communities to clean up, and conserve the environment, from the park, waterways to bush land. 

What has Clean Up Australia Day achieved?

As of 2020, Clean Up Australia has seen over 17.7 million Australian volunteers get involved and remove an estimated 365,000 tonnes of rubbish. It provides us with the simple but profound message: “We are all part of the problem, and so every member in our communities can be part of the solution.”

On September 25, Torres Strait Island Regional Council activated community participation in the clean-up of litter and illegal dumping. Every Torres Strait Islander can contribute by taking the lead on the selection and coordination of clean-up sites in local neighborhoods.

This organisation also creates an initiative and platform for fellow residents and groups to connect and learn more about their local area as well as help to make a difference for the Australian environment.

Step Up to Clean Up

With all the achievement that CleanUpAustralia StepUpToCleanUp has brought about, it is hard to believe that this initiative began as the inspiration of one man, Ian Kierman. The simple yet profound movement ignited an enthusiasm and desire among the local community.

What was started thirty years ago as one of the small waste challenges at the time has now become the largest national environmental occasion for communities. When this event comes round every year, you, your family and your friends can be part of a bigger solution, too!

Get updates!

Nowadays, the organization is located at Suite 701, 140 Arthur St North Sydney NSW 2060. For more cleaning tips, information, and latest newsletter about the event, you can check out their website at https://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/