Kids from kindergartens, schools and scout groups will be rolling up their sleeves to take part in Clean Up Australia Day next month.
The event, held annually on the first Sunday of March, started more than three decades ago as an initiative to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment.
Albany Creek Kindergarten nominated supervisor and teacher Tracey Wilson will be coordinating her local clean up behind the centre in Ernie Street on Sunday, March 6 at 8am.
Mrs Wilson said it was important for the kindergarten to give back to the community.
“Our kindergarten has a strong focus on sustainability and nature play,” she said.
“Clean Up Australia Day is always a great introduction for our families and children and allows us to continue to rejuvenate our local creek area.
“We will be cleaning up the area behind the kindergarten which is also used as our bush kindy space and utilised by local residents.”
Community members also meet in this location every month as part of the Wolter Park Bush Care Group.
In addition, Clean Up Australia Day also allows the kindergarten to connect with nearby schools.
“As a community kindergarten we are also keen to build local connections. This event allows us to connect with the local schools, with some of our past students coming to support their grade 5 and 6 leadership programs within the community,” Mrs Wilson said.
Members from the Morayfield Scouts will also be ensuring the land around their den is squeaky clean.
“Clean Up Australia Day for us is all about teaching the kids to have respect for the local environment,” Assistant Group Leader Naomi Howe said.
“As a scout group, we follow the environment charter, which is leaving no trace of you being there, just footprints.”
“I have been doing Clean Up Australia Day with the group now for about 10 years and the last six years I have been the site coordinator.
“We have been noticing less rubbish, so it is making a significant impact.”
Deception Bay Scouts group leader Tamara Fealy said it was important for the children to give back to their local community.
“By taking part in events like Clean Up Australia Day, it gets our group out into the community where the kids are caring for the environment, picking up rubbish and working as a team,” she said.
The scout group will be cleaning up waterways near their den on Sunday, March 6 from 9am-1pm.
Ms Fealy said it was easy to look after the environment.
“Protecting the environment is easy to do – anyone can get out there and help,” she said.
“We use the Containers for Change program where we recycle our cans and bottles all the time.
“We have bins at our den so if anyone would like to donate, they can.
“That money then goes back into helping the kids, such as buying things like tents or kayaks, and can even go towards paying for our families to attend camps.”
With more rubbish going in and out of households due to COVID-19, Clean Up Australia Day Chairman Pip Kiernan said it was important to have as many people sign up as possible.
“The environment is still experiencing the impact of the pandemic,” Ms Kiernan said.
“Our habits changed during COVID and most of these haven’t been kind on the environment.
“Surges in online shopping, meal delivery services and the use of disposable face masks and coffee cups, mean the environment is feeling the after-effects of the pandemic in ways not seen before.”
This year, the organisation has launched a nationwide citizen science project to measure the extent of Australia’s face mask litter.
It’s estimated more than three billion single-use masks were thrown out across the globe every day in 2020, contributing to a significant portion of pandemic-related litter entering the environment.
However, locally, the extent of this problem remains unclear. That’s why on Clean Up Australia Day volunteers will unmask the impact of the problem by tallying the number of face masks collected and removed from the environment.
“We can’t cover up the problem – now is the time to act. Our environmental issues have not gone away because of COVID, rather, they have escalated because of the mountain of rubbish we’ve created,” Ms Kiernan said.
The environmental organisation is encouraging volunteers to sign up early to show their commitment to improving the environment. Registration is easy, and all community-based participants receive a free Clean Up kit containing gloves and bags and other resources, with packs for individuals, families or groups available.
“Clean Up Australia Day is the opportunity to do some good – to roll up our sleeves, get out there and take action,” Ms Kiernan said.
“Signing up now means you’re making a pledge to protect Australia’s environment. Together, we can make a meaningful, long-lasting difference to the parks, beaches, rivers and pathways near us.”