When I hear reference to Clean Up Australia Day, I am instantly transported back to my primary school days of being taken to collect rubbish around our local community. These are fond memories, but what I’ve come to recognise as an issue is that these are exactly that: (distant) memories. Clean Up Australia Day is a fantastic initiative that inspires communities to do their bit in conserving their local environment, together. As adults, we don’t have anyone to enforce our participation in such activities, and as a result, it’s a habit that often gets forgotten. So the big question for us is - how can we ensure we keep up this habit in our local community, not just for one day a year, but everyday?
If you’ve been keeping up to date on the latest news from 30Acres HQ, you’ll know that we’ve recently committed to working towards a B Corp Certification; something that’s very close to all of our hearts. If you’re new here (hello!), we encourage you to check out our recent blog posts where we delve into our why and how for B Corp Certification. As a part of this journey, it made perfect sense to partake in Clean Up Australia Day as our very first B Corp Community Day.
Good question. A part of the B Corp assessment framework looks at how our company engages with and impacts on the communities in which we operate from, from diversity in the workplace, to charitable giving, and everything in between. We’ve recognised that as individuals, we are already active participants in the local community and our values and interests align closely, so when it came to applying these values to the business framework, we weren’t short on ideas.
So how exactly did we kick off this journey with our very first Community Day? With a river clean-up in Brunswick Heads.
Ensuring our team is engaged and motivated on this B Corp journey is vital to its success, and after surveying our own staff on what values and causes they align with most, there was a strong preference for climate change in general, and ocean / water quality and pollution issues in particular. Using this insight, we began researching how to best spend the day. Enter: Positive Change For Marine Life (PCFML).
“We have incredible potential to create a triple bottom line where ecological systems and equitable communities are put first as the primary drivers of a new economy. One where the long-term benefits of protecting nature, far outweigh the short-term gain of exploiting it.
Positive Change for Marine Life explores this potential, through working with coastal communities to realise the power that community-driven engagement, education and training have when it comes to maximising marine conservation outcomes, whilst lifting people out of poverty.”
- Karl Goodsall, Founder
PCFML became an obvious choice of partner on this journey for a number of reasons:
After running an event for Plastic Free July in 2017 (alongside Byron Cookie Shack, Go Sea Kayaks, Byron Bay Eco Cruises and Kayaks, and Mullum Cares) to clean 12km of the Bruns River that involved 36 volunteers collecting over 1 tonne of trash, PCFML saw an opportunity for an ongoing project that would continue to explore marine debris and its underlying causes in the area. This project is today referred to as River Warriors, and that’s exactly what we became for the afternoon.
Our fantastic host for the day, Dane, greeted us at Brunswick Heads to tell us more about PCFML, their mission, and our activity for the afternoon. Equipped with gloves, some super cool claw-like trash pick-up tools, and large woven sacks, we set about exploring the river edge for debris.
What seemed to be a well maintained and clean area from a cursory glance, upon closer inspection was littered with a surprising amount of rubbish.
According to Dane, after River Warriors’ inception in 2017, it quickly became apparent that cigarette butts were an enormous threat to the local marine ecosystem, with literally thousands being collected each clean-up. It was a similar story on our own clean-up afternoon.
What makes PCFML so successful is their scientific approach to understanding the underlying causes of marine debris and pollution, using surveys and analytics of debris collected to inform future initiatives that address the root causes. With smoking-related litter contributing to the majority of the debris collected, a new initiative was formed to tackle the issue, now known as Butt Free Beaches, and the results speak for themselves..
Over an 18-month period alone there was a 78% decrease in the number of smoking-related items in the Shire region - a huge success!
By the end of our afternoon with Dane & PCFML we were hot, tired, with surprisingly sore lower backs, but filled with a sense of accomplishment and motivation knowing that we had made the first step in contributing to positive change in our community.
Now, just because it's Clean Up Australia Day it doesn't mean our global team members can't partake too. The same day that our Byron Bay team met up in Brunswick Heads for the river clean-up, our team members over in Bali and Spain also hit their local waterways to collect rubbish.
We are so humbled to have a team of incredibly talented & passionate individuals, that can align and come together on issues that matter most. This was just the start for us - the first of many community days to come. Keep your eyes open for updates on future events, and if you’re local, we encourage you to reach out to Positive Change for Marine Life to find out how you can also get involved!
Interested to hear more about how you can participate in Clean Up Australia Day? Check out their website for more information.