Practical ways to give back on World Cleanup Day

Practical ways to give back on World Cleanup Day

The 17th September marks World Cleanup Day, a day dedicated to giving back
to the environment on a huge worldwide scale. But it goes without saying that
our earth definitely needs more than a few days of our energy, which is why
we’ve come up with a range of activities that you can do both on World Cleanup
Day, but also throughout the year.

Whether it’s hitting the beach to collect rubbish, finding ways to recycle clothes
and possessions, or getting back to nature with ongoing projects, kick off this
year’s World Cleanup Day with a year-round commitment.


Eco activity #1: the cleanup mission

Let’s start with the eco-friendly effort most commonly associated with World
Cleanup Day - the cleanup. This one is easy and incredibly straightforward - just
pick a time, pick some friends, and go to your local beach, park or nature
reserve and pick up rubbish. A few hours and a few bags of trash later, and
you’ve already made a huge impact in that particular part of your

While this activity can be done any day of the year, if you want to feel the
collective energy of millions of people doing the same thing across the globe,
then check out the World Cleanup Day maps to find your local crew - or
organise your own. 

In 2021, more than 8.5 million people across 191 countries came together on
World Cleanup Day to clean up over 3.3 thousand tonnes of waste from our
beaches, rivers, forests, and streets. Now imagine how much change could be
created if all of those people committed to regular cleanup dates year-round?

It can be as simple as making this cleanup habit part of your usual outings -
much like the Take 3 for the Sea initiative. Just take a bag and collect a few
pieces of rubbish whenever you head to the beach or take a walk. 

Eco activity #2: the clothes swap

A recent report showed that greenhouse gas emissions from the fashion
industry contribute to 10% of climate change, with more carbon emissions than
all international flights and marine shipping combined. So when it comes to
fashion, the best contribution is not to make one at all.

On average, each Australian throws out about 23kg of clothes a year, with
6,000kg of textile waste going into landfill every ten minutes. Meanwhile, to
manufacture a brand new cotton t-shirt, it takes nearly 3,000 litres of water.
So not only is the fast fashion industry making cheap, unethical clothing at
an alarming rate, but we’re not even getting a long life out of them. 

The clothes swap exercise ticks several boxes in one go; it helps rehome or
repurpose clothing you no longer enjoy wearing, thus keeping them out of
landfill, it stops you getting sucked into the never-ending fashion cycle and
buying more stuff, and it avoids sending excess items to secondhand stores,
which are already struggling to sell all their donations. As a bonus, clothes
swaps also save you money - making it a win for you, your friends, and the

Swaps are easy to organise too - just invite a group of friends to bring pre-loved
clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags to your house for an evening of drinks,
snacks, and savvy swapping. Set the mood by hanging and displaying all the
items like you would in a store, and then shop from whatever is on offer. The
remaining stock can still be donated, but you’ll be surprised how much ‘new’
treasure you’ll find amongst the trove of friend’s belongings.


Eco activity #3: the natural approach

A beautiful way to show your support for the earth is through tending to nature
herself. With so much urbanisation, logging, mono-cultured farming, and loss of
diversity, the planet is having a pretty rough time. Using your green thumb can
be an authentic path to countering some of these harms. 

First up is replanting; you can get involved in initiatives like National Tree Day,
which have seen over 26 million trees planted since 1996, or simply start
planting a few native plants in your backyard. For bigger farms or properties,
cordoning off a section to act as a wildlife sanctuary can also ensure natural
habitats continue to thrive for both animal and native plant species. 

Another eco-friendly approach is to build a compost in your garden or break
down food scraps with a Bokashi bin or worm farm. Composting is a simple but
effective way to return organic matter to the earth, and your plants and garden
will love soaking up the concentrated matter that forms from composting.

If your green thumbs are itching to make more contributions, why not suss out
Facebook groups, your local paper or council website for community gardens in
your area. These communal gardens operate on the basis that everyone puts in
effort to grow and share produce, but they also benefit the environment in other
ways. Their very existence helps improve air and soil quality, increases
biodiversity of plants and animals, and also radically reduces the food miles
involved in getting fresh produce to your kitchens. 


Eco activity #4: the garage sale

Garage sales are a rite of passage in Aussie neighbourhoods, because as the
saying goes, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. So when it comes
time to let go of the things you’ve accumulated, these are a great way to keep
belongings in circulation - and out of landfill. 

You can grab some mates and watch your pre-loved possessions find new
homes any time of the year, but just like World Cleanup Day, there’s also an
annual event for garage sales. The Garage Sale Trail runs over two weekends
in November, with 300,000 Aussies selling from over 10,000 garages, both
online and in the community. Starting over a decade ago with just 30-odd
garages in Bondi, the Garage Sale Trail has grown into an eco-friendly festival
that last year kept more than 1.5 million kilograms of stuff from ending up in

Registrations open on 14 September 2022 - it's free and anyone can do it,
whether you’re a household, community group, a whole street, school or even a
local business. The team is so committed to avoiding landfill that they’ve even
come up with this savvy guide on reusing belongings - a clever way to support
the environment all year round!


Beyond World Cleanup Day

If the past couple of years have shown us anything, it’s that our environment
needs more help than ever. And while big corporations need to be involved for
radical change, playing your own role creates ripple effects in your community
and beyond. 

So this World Cleanup Day, kick your eco-friendly commitment into gear with
meaningful involvement. Then, once the day has passed, keep the momentum
going by engaging with some of these easy, effective activities over the rest of
the year.