By Emily Hogg
The first day in March was a scorcher across Australia. While Cundall’s European offices turned-up coat collars and sheltered from the biting cold winter winds, the Australian offices were sweating through summer and finding any excuse to stay in the shade, preferably next to an oscillating fan. That is, until it was time to step outside and take part in Clean Up Australia Day.
Clean Up Australia Day was established over 25 years ago to clean-up Sydney Harbour with help from volunteering Sydneysiders. The aim of the founder was: “to inspire and work with communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment.” The huge number of volunteers that came out on the first occasion led to the event going nationwide the following year, and so began the annual Clean Up Australia Day.
All four of Cundall’s Australian offices took part in this year’s event, donating two hours out of their day to participate by picking-up litter in their local neighbourhoods, sorting it into recyclable and non-recyclable items, and disposing of it responsibly. It was over 30 degrees in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, but that didn’t stop us from doing our bit (with the help of lots of sunscreen!).
It was a pleasure to work with our colleagues across Australia to benefit our local communities. While we take part in this event annually, the turnout this year was the best yet, further contributing to Cundall’s pledge of 40,000 hours of volunteering for our 40th anniversary year.
To share with you what is was like on that day, here is a summary of an internal questionnaire we conducted:
Where did you do your Clean Up?
Melbourne: Royal Park: right next door to the Royal Children’s Hospital, a project Cundall provided sustainability advice on.
Perth: Mciver Park: often frequented by locals throughout the day and night so a good place to make a positive impact on the local community.
Sydney: Bradfield Park: right across from the office, this is a high traffic area with stunning harbour views.
How much rubbish did you pick up?
Adelaide: 5 kgs; Melbourne: 36kgs with a side of poly piping!; Perth: 6kg; Sydney: 21kgs of recycling and 19kgs of garbage totalling 40kgs in rubbish; grand total: 87kgs of rubbish collected in 2 hours!
Why are events like Clean Up Australia Day positive events for the community?
Perth: Clean Up Australia Day provides awareness to the community. Our site was on a busy road with many people passing by. Hopefully, seeing that someone was physically picking-up other people’s waste would make them think twice about dropping it on the ground in the first place. At the very least, the day acted as a reminder to the Cundall staff about how easy it is to accumulate waste and the need to dispose of it responsibly.
What surprised you most about the clean up?
Melbourne: We were shocked by how much rubbish there actually was! When we first confirmed the site and had a quick site inspection, we were worried there wasn’t much rubbish around the place. However, once we got started picking it up, it was shocking how much rubbish we found.
Why do you think there was so much rubbish at your clean-up site?
Sydney: The site we chose is very large and used a lot for recreation – people having lunch, school kids playing, sports activities and weekend events. There are also only three rubbish bins at the edges of the site so there are barely any places to actually throw away rubbish.
What could councils/governments/corporations do to prevent so much rubbish getting into the environment at this location?
Adelaide: Definitely more bins placed throughout the area. Bins should be placed strategically such as near park benches and areas commonly used for functions as these were the areas that we found most rubbish in.
What surprised you most about the clean-up?
Perth: The amount of cigarette butts was astounding. We had a challenge to see how many could be collected at once without moving our feet but had to stop when our hands were overflowing!
What are three things Cundall can do to limit waste going into the environment?
1. Promoting re-use: Particularly when it comes to food and the amount plastic waste that gets generated from lunch and throughout the day.
2. Recycling: Offering recycling as the number one option and teaching staff about where and what can be recycled is a great way to decrease what flows out into the environment
3. Eco-Friendly: Buying less items with packaging means that there is less waste going into the environment – this can be as simple as buying loose tea-bags as opposed to ones in paper bags.
Would you participate in Clean Up Australia Day again?
Adelaide: Absolutely! It was a great way for the whole team to do something together, whilst also making a positive contribution to a site that we know so well, have worked on and use plenty of times throughout the year. It’s a win-win situation!
Our thanks to all those who took part in Clean Up Australia Day this year, especially for tuning up in such strong numbers. As the world’s first consultancy to be endorsed as a One Planet Living company, we strive to lead by example in how we can be more sustainable in our day-to-day lives, and this event was a great learning experience for all involved. There is always work that we can do in support of a more sustainable way of life and this was just one example of what we will be doing throughout 2016 to support more sustainable practices.
To find out what our other offices are doing for ‘40,000 hours at 40 campaign’ click here.