What is “Clean Up Australia Day”?

Clean Up Australia Day is an annual event held on the first Sunday in March, where Australians come together to clean up their local communities. However, the history of this event is much more interesting than just a simple community clean-up. Let’s delve into the history of Clean Up Australia Day and explore how it has evolved into the successful environmental campaign it is today.

It all started with just one man

The origins of Clean Up Australia Day can be traced back to 1989, when a man named Ian Kiernan was sailing around the world. During his journey, he was saddened by the amount of litter and pollution in the oceans. He was inspired to do something about it, and upon his return to Australia, he established Clean Up Australia.

Photo of Ian Kiernan in 2013

Photo of Ian Kiernan in 2013- Image sourced from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Kiernan]

The first Clean Up Australia Day

The very first Clean Up Australia Day was held on Sunday March 21, 1989, with the goal of bringing together local communities to clean up their local parks, beaches, and waterways. Over 40,000 volunteers took part in the inaugural event, which was a resounding success. The event was then repeated a year later in 1990, and it quickly gained traction, with hundreds of thousands of volunteers participating each year.

Establishing new initiatives

As the event grew, so did its scope. In 1992, Clean Up Australia launched a new initiative called ‘Business Clean Up Day’, which encouraged businesses to get involved in the clean-up efforts. This turned out to be a popular event for  businesses to get involved in due to it’s potential for team building activities and encouraging employees to get outside in the fresh air. Many businesses saw an improvement in the productiveness and emotional health of their employees while taking part.

The following year, Clean Up Australia expanded to include a ‘Schools Clean Up Day’, encouraging young people to take part in environmental action. This has proven to be just as popular as the first two initiatives with schools using it for many reasons. Some of the reasons schools take part are to educate children on the importance of picking up rubbish, the effects litter can have on the environment and our wildlife and as a way to really knuckle down and get their school environment cleaned up. The potential for numerous education lessons and strategies are countless in the lead up, during and even after schools clean up day.

In 1998, Clean Up Australia launched a new program called ‘Clean Up the World’, which aimed to bring together communities around the world to participate in environmental action. This program was a huge success, with over 35 million volunteers participating in over 100 countries.

Children picking up litter for clean up Australia day

One of the largest community-based environmental events in the world

The event continued to grow in popularity, and by the early 2000s, it had become one of the largest community-based environmental events in the world. In 2007, Clean Up Australia launched ‘National Clean Up Day’, which aimed to encourage all Australians to participate in a coordinated clean-up effort on the same day. This was a huge success, with over 500,000 volunteers participating in the event.

Evolving with the times

In recent years, Clean Up Australia Day has continued to evolve and expand. The focus has shifted from just cleaning up litter to promoting sustainability and reducing waste. Clean Up Australia now runs a number of different programs and initiatives, including ‘Sustainable Schools’, ‘Sustainable Businesses’, and ‘Waste Wise Schools’, all aimed at promoting sustainability and reducing waste.

One of the key elements of Clean Up Australia Day is its focus on education and awareness. Through its programs and initiatives, Clean Up Australia aims to educate people about the impact of litter and waste on the environment, and to encourage them to make changes to their behaviour. This focus on education and awareness has helped Clean Up Australia to become one of the most successful environmental campaigns in the world.

With passion and commitment comes great success

The success of Clean Up Australia Day can be attributed to the passion and commitment of its founder, Ian Kiernan, and the thousands of volunteers who have taken part in the event over the years. Ian’s vision of a cleaner and more sustainable world has inspired people around the world to take action, and the impact of his work can be seen in the countless communities that have been transformed by Clean Up Australia’s efforts.

Clean Up Australia Day is a shining example of what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause. It has evolved from a small, community-based event into a global movement that has inspired millions of people to take action and make a difference. The history of Clean Up Australia Day is a testament to the power of community, the importance of doing our small part to make a bigger difference.

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