Everyday enviro with Elise: reducing waste on Clean Up Australia Day (and beyond)

Everyday enviro with Elise: reducing waste on Clean Up Australia Day (and beyond)

By Elise Catterall  February 9th, 2021

Elise discusses the importance of remembering good reuse habits.


March 7 is Clean Up Australia Day and if there ever was a year that needed this fantastic event, its 2021!

2020 saw a surge in waste — especially plastic waste — like never before. Through necessity we saw increased use of plastic wrapped straws and other single-use items like water bottles, disposable cutlery, salt and pepper sachets, takeaway food containers, mini hand sanitisers and baby wipes. And, of course, we saw the now ubiquitous disposable mask used in massive numbers. Sadly, we also saw a decline in the use of KeepCups and a resurgence in the use of disposable coffee cups, one area of waste where we had seen great progress.

Clean Up Australia Day is a small way we can help deal with some of the fallout from this uptick in waste. Held on the first Sunday of March every year, the event is a chance for communities to come together to clean up local beaches, bushland, waterways, roadways and parks. When you sign up to participate you will be sent a kit with everything you need to get started, including clean up bags and gloves.

Last year, over 660,000 Australians got involved in Clean Up Australia Day and the 2021 event is shaping up to be even bigger. You can get involved as an individual, with a group of friends, with your family or with a community group. Schools and businesses get their own special days to clean up, so if March 7 doesn’t work for you, there are other opportunities.

There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved beyond Clean Up day. You can get involved all year round by coordinating your own clean up or joining organised events like Clean Up Our Patch Tasmania, a month-long event series that takes place across the Tasman and Forestier Peninsula every June. You can also get involved by adopting a street or getting into plogging (picking up rubbish while jogging). Visit the Clean Up Australia website for more information.

Beyond Clean Up Australia Day, with the arrival of a vaccine looming and the stabilising of infection rates, we will have more freedom to be proactive about waste. A reduced need for disposable masks, a return to cafés accepting KeepCups and salt and pepper shakers returning to restaurant tables are some things that will ease the burden a bit.

We also need to stop and remember that there are alternatives to all the bad habits we may have fallen back into: we can take our reusable fruit and veg bags to the greengrocer, we can take our Tupperware to the deli counter and we can take our KeepCups to the café. You can find more reuse options on Planet Ark’s Reuse Hub.

Join me on March 7 to help tackle the waste issue! And remember, we can take actions to reduce waste every day.

Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 


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Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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