Time to tidy up your backyard

Australians are being urged to tidy up their nearby waterways, roads and neighbourhoods as part of Keep Australia Beautiful Week.

From 24-30 August 2015, Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) aims to remind all Australians what an amazing, and beautiful country we have. However, it won’t stay beautiful if we don’t clean up our act when it comes to litter.


More than 9 billion tons of litter ends up in the ocean every year making litter a major environmental problem along our coast and worldwide. The 2013-14 KAB National Litter Index findings are obvious – we have a litter problem.

Whilst the annual report indicates that overall amount of litter is decreasing, there is still an enormous amount of rubbish polluting our natural environment, and cigarette butts remain the biggest pollutant.

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An assortment of rubbish collected by Lorne-Aireys Inlet P-12 College students earlier this year as part of GORCC’s environmental education program.

Not surprisingly, the most littered sites surveyed within Victoria were retail areas and beaches, making our precious coastal environment a high risk zone. So how do you stop litter from entering our precious waterways?

Here are some simple ways to reduce your rubbish consumption by following the sustainable R’s of living.

Rethink/ Reinvent

Only 1 in every 10,000 products are designed with the environment in mind, which is why it is so important to evaluate if there could be another use, or if you really need it in the first place. Ask yourself if you really need the product, or could you make do with something else you already have?


Say no to plastic bags and bring your own reusable shopping bag from home. Photo: Plastic Bag Free Torquay

This is the most direct method of cutting down litter – refuse to any items that generate unnecessary waste, such as plastic bags. Make sure you take reusable bags when shopping to lessen plastic consumption.


To reduce rubbish the easy idea is to consume less, or rather, consume the right amount. Rubbish tends to accumulate from unwanted or excess items, so by reducing the amount you purchase, you can reduce your waste.

Re-use/ Repair

Do you ever go to the store to replace something that broke with a brand new version without even trying to fix it? We’re all guilty of it, and this is contributing to the massive amount of litter in our oceans. By finding new uses for what we already have, we can reduce the amount of packaging and save money at the same time. It’s time to be creative with what you already have in the home.


Items that can be recycled. Photo: Wyong Shire Council

The main point that we all know and have learnt about for years – recycling. Although it can seem like an annoying task, separating plastic bottles, cans and newspapers, is conserving our environment for future generations.

Replace/ Re-buy

Next time you need to purchase a product or item, think about going green and buying products made from recycled materials. Look for the labels on the packages that include a percentage off recovered materials.

The Surf Coast is already taking the first steps to a more environmentally friendly community with initiatives like Plastic Bag Free Torquay and Take 3 are helping reduce our impact on the environment.


Australia has a litter problem and by following these easy tips you can help reduce your environmental footprint. For more information visit the Keep Australia Beautiful website. If you would like to do more in your community, why not check out some of our fabulous environmental volunteer groups here?

How do you use the 6R’s of sustainability? Do you have a favourite re-invention? Share them with us in the comments below. 

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