Clean Up Australia Day

Every year on the 1st Sunday in March, thousands of Australians join in to pick up and remove rubbish from their local area. People congregate in their local parks, beaches, forests and waterways wearing safety gloves and carrying garbage bags to clean up general waste lying around.

Activities on the day also include removing larger items such as car bodies from vacant land and water ways.

Clean Up Australia organise and conduct a range of other activities including tree planting, water conservation and re-use, recycling and waste recovery and raising awareness events to help people conserve their local environment.

Clean Up Australia is a not-for-profit Australian environment conservation organisation founded in 1989 by Ian Kiernan and Kim McKay.

Ian Kiernan & Kim McKay Go National

Ian Kiernan on Clean Up Australia Day

Ian Kiernan showing Gloves & Garbage Bags Used on Clean Up Australia Day

Australian builder and solo yachtsman, Ian Kiernan sailed the oceans of the world in his yacht ‘Spirit of Sydney”.  In 1986/87 Keirnan represented Australia in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race. He finished 6th out of a fleet of 25 yachts from 11 nations, setting an Australian record for a solo circumnavigation of the world.

He was disgusted by the pollution, litter and most of all the recycleable plastic bottles and bags that he encountered in the waters all around the World.

Inspired by an Australian Bicentenary event, “Clean-Up Lake Macquarie” instigated in 1987 by Ivan Welsh, Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Ian and his friends organised a similar community event for Sydney Harbour.

His call to Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day in 1989 received an enormous public response. More than 40,000 Sydney people donated their weekend and goodwill to clean up the floating garbage on the shorelines of the harbour.

That this campaign had struck a chord with people who wanted to make a difference was self evident, so with co-founder Kim McKay and other supporters he organised a national “Clean Up” campaign.

The first Clean Up Australia Day event took place on Sunday, 21 January in 1990 and was launched by then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Almost 300,000 volunteers turned out to help Clean Up Australia.

Kim McKay AO – Co-founder of Clean Up Australia & Clean Up the World

Kim McKay AO holds a BA (Communications) from UTS (University of Technology, Sydney). She co-founded Clean Up Australia with Ian Kiernan and has helped to co-ordinate “Clean Up” events for 20 years serving on the boards of Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World, and as Deputy Chairwoman from 2001 – 2009.

She is co-author, with Clean Up Director Jenny Bonnin of the True Green series of books.

She has also won numerous Australian and International awards for her work in the environment and communications. These include a United Nations citation and IPRA’s Golden World Award for Excellence in Environmental Communication for the Clean Up the World campaign.

Clean Up Australia Day celebrates 25 years

Clean Up Australia Day celebrates 25 years

Clean Up Australia Day celebrates 25 years

On Clean Up Australia’s 25th anniversary, more than 500,000 volunteers removed 13,500 tonnes of rubbish at over 6,000 sites across Australia.

During the last 25 years, volunteers have removed over 300,000 tonnes of rubbish from 145,754 sites across the country.

Since 1990, Clean Up Australia has continued to grow and start new projects and campaigns targeting specific communities. These include Business Clean Up Day, Schools Clean Up Day, Clean Up the Alps, Clean Up the Kimberley and the international project Clean Up the World.

Around 80 per cent of the rubbish removed each year is recyclable. A “Rubbish Report” is compiled each year from data collected by participants and published on their website. Visit the Clean Up Australia website for more details or to donate or participate.

Clean Up The World – Going Global

Clean Up the World was established in 1993, after Ian Kiernan and Kim McKay, approached the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to help take the Clean Up event to other countries. It is now celebrated globally on the 3rd weekend in September each year.

In its inaugural year, Clean Up the World participation included 30 million people in 80 countries. That has since increased to 35 million volunteers from 120 countries annually, making it one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world.

Like Clean Up Australia, Clean Up the World encourages and supports its local groups to undertake further environmental activities throughout the year.

Ian Kiernan’s Awards

Keirnan’s environmental efforts were originally recognised in 1991 when the Australian Government awarded him the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). In 1995 he was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.

Ian Kiernan  was awarded Australian of the Year in 1994. He has also been in the top 5 of the Most trusted people in Australia for many years.

In 1998, Ian Kiernan was awarded Sasakawa Environment Prize from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), for his vision and implementation of this worldwide environmental movement.

He received the World Citizenship Award from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1999. In 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal. In 2006 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Trust of Australia (NSW).


Credits & Official Sources

“Clean Up – Our Founders”



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