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Living Lightly column

Clean Up Australia Day Celebrates 40 Years

By Tess Middleton, Fin Free Albury Wodonga

Clean Up Australia Day has celebrated a milestone 40 years this year. The idea started back in 1989 when Ian Kiernan had a desire to tidy his local area, Sydney Harbour, after a sailing competition, in 1987; Ian saw the level of pollution in the harbour and knew something had to be done. His objective was small, getting the local community together to remove the rubbish in and around Sydney Harbour.

Forty years on and Clean Up Australia Day is now Australia’s largest community-based environmental event.

During the four decades more than 350,000 ute loads of rubbish have been collected by over 30 million people in 80 different countries, devoting in excess of 30 million hours.

As the event has grown so has the objective, with a focus now on preventing rubbish from entering the environment in the first instance, as well as the original goal of cleaning up our country.

This year Clean Up Australia Day was held on March 3 and saw another fantastic turnout, with participants collecting the most common items including cigarette butts, chewing gum, plastic pieces, food packaging and containers as well as organic materials.

However, if you weren’t able to attend the clean up on March 3 you can still be involved; luckily you don’t need a specific date or event to make our planet a little healthier!

You can organise a group of friends, family or like-minded souls and have your own Clean Up Australia Day. Choose your favourite spot to catch up, maybe Noreuil Park, the weir, gardens and spend the morning removing rubbish, just pack some gloves, bins for the rubbish and maybe even a picnic or coffee to treat yourselves afterwards.

Picking up rubbish isn’t for everybody, so if you want the planet, as well as your hands to be clean you can still do your part, you can donate directly to Clean Up Australia Day via their website www.cleanup.org.au, with funds going to a variety of causes.

You can also help by saying no to single use plastics, packing green bags, using metal straws, reusable cutlery and keep cups!

However you choose to help, know you are making the planet a little greener and a little better, as there is no planet B.