Clean Up Australia Day

Clean Up Australia Day – Bringing the Country Together to Conserve Our Environment

Clean Up Australia Day is the nation’s largest community-based environmental event, held annually on the first Sunday of March. This beloved event mobilizes and inspires Australians across the country to protect our environment by cleaning up litter and ending waste in our communities.

Clean Up Australia Day
Clean Up Australia Day

A Brief History of Clean Up Australia Day

Clean Up Australia Day has its origins in the experiences of one man – Ian Kiernan. As an avid sailor, Ian frequently encountered significant pollution in the world’s oceans and was frustrated by the rubbish and litter spoiling these waterways.

Inspired to take action, Ian organised a community cleanup event in Sydney Harbour with the support of friends, including co-founder Kim McKay AO. This small event sparked an enthusiastic response among locals and demonstrated the potential for community action. Ian realised that if Sydney could be mobilised, so too could the rest of Australia.

And so in 1990, Clean Up Australia Day was born with Ian as its founder. As the first national event of its kind, Clean Up Australia Day exceeded all expectations and spawned a growing environmental movement across the country. Over 300,000 volunteers participated in cleaning up beaches, waterways, parks and streets on that first day alone.

Purpose & Objectives

Today, Clean Up Australia continues to mobilise vast numbers of everyday Australians as community environmental volunteers. Key objectives include:

  • Removing and safely disposing of rubbish from the natural environment
  • Identifying litter trends and sources of rubbish
  • Raising awareness of waste issues and solutions
  • Inspiring action through community participation
  • Supporting sustainability initiatives to prevent waste issues

The core purpose remains clear – to bring Australians together to take practical action and tackle the environmental issues we collectively face across this wide brown land.

Clean Up Australia Day River Pollution
Clean Up Australia Day River Pollution

How to Get Involved?

Many ask ‘do I have to clean up on Clean Up Australia Day?‘ The great news is that you can take action whenever suits you! Here are key ways to participate:

Official Event Days

  • Clean Up Australia Day – Always the first Sunday in March (Sunday 3 March 2024)
  • Schools Clean Up Day – The Friday before (Friday 1 March 2024)
  • Business Clean Up Day – The Tuesday before (Tuesday 27 February 2024)

Organise Your Own Local Clean Up

You can also organise and register a cleanup event any other day of the year. Simply sign up online to receive your free Clean Up kit complete with gloves, bags and safety instructions. These events are all over Australia from QLD to Western Australia.

Join An Existing Local Event

Find a cleanup happening near you via Cleanup Australia’s website or free smartphone app and register to attend. It’s a great way to meet your community and help preserve your local area.

Clean Up As You Go

Pledge to pick up litter whenever you see it – during your regular walk, run, ride or hike for example – and dispose of it properly to keep your community clean.

Why Register Your Participation?

Some may wonder ‘why do I need to officially sign up – can’t I just get out there?‘. Here’s why registering is important:

Benefits for the Environment

Clean Up Days reduce pollution from litter, preventing environmental degradation and harm to wildlife and ecosystems. With thousands of volunteers removing rubbish nationwide, dumping sites and littered areas are transformed into clean spaces where nature can regenerate and thrive over time. Less waste reaching waterways also protects our rivers, beaches and marine life.

Health & Wellbeing

Participating in clean up events gets you outdoors and active surrounded by nature, which is great for mental and physical health. People experience reduced stress, increased energy and an enhanced mood from exercising and being present in green spaces away from bustling city life. Volunteers also enjoy connecting with like-minded community members for a common cause.

Awareness & Education

Clean Up Days significantly boost awareness about problems of rubbish, waste and environmental responsibility across Australian society. The large-scale mobilisation prompts media coverage and public discussion about these issues nationally. Seeing the sheer volume of litter collected sparks everyday behaviour change in many volunteers to reduce their waste. Educating the next generation is also a focus through Schools Clean Up Day.

Community Building

Clean Up Days brings people together from all walks of life to work towards the shared goal of protecting the local environment. It fosters connections and social cohesion as strangers bond over collecting rubbish and residents take pride in improving their neighbourhood. Many volunteers describe their team as like a big family, with kids, parents, grandparents and people of different backgrounds all pitching in. Lifelong friendships form.

Economic Benefits

Keeping communities and public recreation areas free of waste and litter significantly reduces costs that would otherwise fall on local councils for collection and landfill management. Cleaner cities, parks and beaches also boost tourism revenue, enhance property prices for residents and make areas more attractive for new businesses and jobs. Preventing pollution protects environmental assets that underpin sectors like agriculture and fisheries too.

Wildlife Protection

Another advantage is reducing the hazards that litter and rubbish pose to native fauna and domestic animals. Animals can get heads or limbs fatally caught in items like discarded bottles, get sick from toxins leaching from waste or mistake plastic for food ingesting it with deadly consequences. This prevents animal cruelty and protects biodiversity. The clean-ups allow the natural environment to thrive, supporting the rich wildlife we cherish.

Making An Impact Across Australia

Since its inception, Clean Up Australia Day has made a significant difference to this land we all call home:

  • 21+ million Australians participating over 30+ years
  • 376,000+ cubic metres of rubbish removed from neighbourhoods and bush
  • 818,000+ sites cleaned up across Australia
  • $44+ million funds raised to tackle environmental issues
  • 2 million+ native trees planted with Toyota Australia

The collective effort of everyday people has transformed eyesore dumping grounds into community parklands. It has cleared country creeks and suburban streets of debris. It has prevented 55,000+ tonnes of rubbish from ending up in landfills or our waterways and oceans.

Most encouragingly, Clean Up Australia Day has helped mobilise a generation of young people growing up aware of sustainability issues, and willing to take up the challenge.

So each year, the first Sunday in March brings hope and highlights that together, we can make a difference however big or small.


Clean Up Australia Day is an inspiring example of everyday citizens harnessing the power of community to drive meaningful environmental change. What began over 30 years ago through one man’s call to action has evolved into an integrated national movement for sustainability. 

This beloved Australian tradition mobilises volunteers to remove rubbish, fosters an awareness of waste issues, educates the next generation and brings people together. The collective efforts of millions over the years have tangibly reduced littering and pollution, prevented tonnes of waste and transformed public spaces for nature.

Whether participating for an hour or the whole day, Australians from all walks of life now share this tradition of rolling up their sleeves to preserve our natural spaces for the benefit of wildlife, future generations and our own enjoyment.

Clean Up Australia Day enables personal action to protect the places we love for the challenges that affect us all. It continues to awaken an awareness across Australia that we each have a role to play in being caretakers of our shared environment.

Register or join a clean up here: https://register.cleanup.org.au/join-a-clean-up

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