In 1989 an 'average Australian bloke' had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard - Sydney Harbour. This simple idea has now become the nation's largest community-based environmental event, Clean Up Australia Day.
It is hard to believe that this campaign began as the inspiration of one man, Australian builder and solo yachtsman, Ian Kiernan. As an avid sailor, Ian had always dreamed about sailing around the world.
In 1987 his dream came true when he competed in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race. As he sailed through the oceans of the world in his yacht 'Spirit of Sydney' he was shocked and disgusted by the pollution and rubbish that he continually encountered in areas such as the Sargasso Sea in the Caribbean.
Having waited years to see the Sargasso's legendary long golden weeds, Ian's excited anticipation turned to anger and disappointment when he found the waters polluted and tangled with rubbish.
Back in Sydney Ian organised a community event with the support of a committee of friends, including Clean Up co founder Kim McKay AO - Clean Up Sydney Harbour.
Ian Kiernan AO
Founder and Chairman
The idea of a clean up day had ignited an enthusiasm and desire among the community to get involved and make a difference to their local environment themselves.
Ian and his committee believed that if a capital city could be mobilised into action, then so could the whole nation.
turned out on the first Clean Up Australia Day in 1990 and that involvement has steadily increased ever since.
hours have been devoted
by Australians, towards the environment, through Clean Up Australia Day removing the equivalent of more than 350,000 ute loads of rubbish.
people in 80 countries
are involved Clean Up the World, which was launched in 1993, after gaining the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The appeal of Clean Up the World has demonstrated that this simple Australian idea has universal appeal and the health of the environment is of concern to people and communities worldwide.
Under the banner of Clean Up the World people across the planet are willing to do something themselves to help protect and care for their environment.
Over the past three decades Clean Up Australia has evolved into an organisation that works with the community, government and business to provide practical solutions to help us all live more sustainably every day of the year.
Today the focus is as much on preventing rubbish entering our environment as it is removing what has already accumulated, with issues based campaigns making every day a Clean Up Day.