Why is Clean Up the World Weekend important?

Clean Up the World Weekend is an annual event held every September. Discover more about this event that promotes positive, sustainable attitudes to looking after our planet. 

How did Clean Up the World Weekend begin?

Clean Up the World Weekend is one of the key events put on by the Clean Up campaign, an environmental organisation which began in Sydney more than 20 years ago. It all started when Ian Kiernan AO (Order of Australia), an avid yachter, competed in the BOC Challenge (now known as the Velux 5 Oceans Race) to sail solo around the world. Part of the competition's appeal for Ian was the lure of famed blue seas and sandy beaches that the route would follow, however upon arrival in these far-flung destinations, Mr Kiernan was shocked and surprised to see the levels of pollution which made these locations stand out – for all the wrong reasons.

From there, Mr Kiernan decided to set up Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day in 1989, which saw 40,000 volunteers help to remove rubbish from the Sydney beaches. Shortly after, in 1990, the team took on the challenge of hosting the first Clean Up Australia Day and the inaugural event was aided by 300,000 voluntary helpers. Since then, the event has grown to become a worldwide campaign supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), enlisting the help of 35 million people in more than 130 locations globally, including Australia as well as other countries.

Why are these type of events important?

According to data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the country increased on a gross basis by 31 per cent between 1990-2009. This figure shows the extent of the pollution problem in Australia, and indicates how the recycling and recovery of resources promoted by the Clean Up initiative can help to reduce the amount of planet-harming substances we produce. 

ABS information also reveals that in 2007, 21.3 million tonnes of waste was deposited nationally in landfill. This highlights Australia's high level of dependence on this toxic form of waste management, which is detrimental to the environment. Therefore, the Clean Up event which promotes positive disposal or reusing items where possible, is helping to lead the way in changing people's perceptions and understanding of the world around us. Better yet, if more people switched to using eco-friendly products this could also help lessen the amount of waste which ends up in landfill.

How can you get involved?

Aside from participating in your local Clean Up event, there are also a number of changes you can make throughout your lifestyle to help maintain a healthy planet during this weekend and into the future too. Even the smallest switches, such as opting for reusable sandwich wraps to keep your lunch in, can make a difference in the long run. The benefits of the initial purchase mean you can save money and decrease the amount of plastic and other waste you create. 

Similarly, taking the time to think about the transport you use, the materials in your clothes and even what you store your fruit and vegetables in are all ways to enjoy a more sustainable way of life. Car share or better still, take public transport, cycle or walk as much as possible to help to reduce the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere. Opt for green alternatives to standard fabric choices, such as canvas or other planet-friendly options for sustainable clothing. Produce bags are a great way to carry and store your fruit and vegetables as they are reusable, easy to clean and due to the lightweight fabric, can be used as colander while preparing food too.