The Green Edition With Clean Up Australia


March 4, 2024


At The Commons, we strive ourselves on being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. To align with Earth Day 2024, we felt it fitting to dive deep into "The Green Edition" for April and surround the whole month around everything sustainability.

At The Commons, we strive ourselves on being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. To align with Earth Day 2024, we felt it fitting to dive deep into "The Green Edition" for April and surround the whole month around everything sustainability.

What are we doing at The Commons to help with Sustainability in the workplace?

The Commons is dedicated to making a positive impact both within our walls and beyond. As a member, you will become a part of a community that values individuals, communities, and the world at large. We are committed to a daily mission of self-improvement and aim to assist our members in making sustainable effortless choices daily.

Since 2019, we have prioritised our environmental impact and invested in renewable energy to help offset our energy-related carbon emissions. In addition, we give our members easy options to make sustainable decisions in their daily lives, find out more about The Commons impact.

The Commons have recently partnered with Zolo Australia, who are members at our Surry Hills location. Zolo help manage your e-waste and end-of-life tech in a way that makes a positive impact on people, the planet and your business. We encourage members to bring their e-waste to their Community Teams for recycling.

We spoke with the team at Clean Up Australia to educate ourselves further on what they do and how we, as a company, can help.

When was the first Clean Up Australia Day? Where was it held?

Clean Up Australia was established by Ian Kiernan, AO. An avid sailor, Ian was shocked and disgusted by the pollution and rubbish that he continually encountered in the oceans around the world. Taking matters into his own hands, Ian organised a community event with the support of a committee of friends which was Clean Up Sydney Harbour in 1989. This sparked enthusiasm and desire among the community to get involved and so, Clean Up Australia Day was born in 1990. 34 years ago!

How many clean-up sites were held across Australia in 2023?

There were over 17,000 Clean Up events held during FY23. In our most recent figures, there were over 10,000 Clean Up sites just from the start of this year (2024) and over the Clean Up Australia Day period.

Sarah from Clean Up Australia facilitated a Clean Up for our South Melbourne members.

In what other ways can we get involved?

You can register to host or join an existing Clean Up event any day of the year and help make a difference to the environment. If you are unable to participate, you can also donate or purchase a Play for Purpose raffle ticket, with proceeds going towards providing free Clean Up materials to community groups and schools across the country.

What are Australia's biggest waste challenges?

We have a large number of waste challenges within Australia. A few of the key ones include; Plastics, Single-use coffee cups, cigarette butts and vapes, fast fashion and food waste. Australia is the second largest consumer of textiles in the world, but as consumers, we can reevaluate our relationship with clothing and ask ourselves the following: How often are you purchasing new clothing? What is the oldest piece of clothing you own?

Coffee and other hot beverage cups are estimated to be the second largest contributor to litter after plastic bottles. Clean Up volunteers report that over 10% of rubbish they identify as paper is coffee cups and are often shocked to find out that they are plastic lined - which means they are potentially even more damaging than previously thought as they are not readily recyclable and they are not biodegradable. At The Commons, we provide every member with an insulated reusable bottle and have mugs across all of our locations to prevent the use of single-use plastics.

Sending batteries to landfills is a huge waste of valuable resources. If recycled, 95% of the components of a battery can be turned into new batteries or used in other industries. Think of batteries as feedstock for new products. By recycling batteries, you can be a part of the solution to a growing waste problem. To support battery recycling, be sure to buy batteries with the B-cycle logo. Remember to buy rechargeable and recyclable batteries whenever you can!

Cigarette butts are the most littered item on the planet, making them the most abundant form of plastic waste in the world, with about 4.5 trillion individual butts polluting our global environment. Each year, they are the single most reported litter item across Australia, in 2020 representing 16% of all recorded items in our Rubbish Report.

Statistics from Clean Up Australia Rubbish Report.

What is one fact that surprised you about the waste issue in Australia?

Australia now produces 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, equating to 100kg per person. Of this, 13% of plastic is recovered and 84% is sent to landfill! 130,00 tonnes of the plastic we consume leaks into the marine environment each year.

What is a common misconception about recycling?

People often get confused about what can be recycled and what cannot. Each Local Government Area also has different rules and regulations around their recycling which also adds to the confusion! Misconceptions were observed at all stages of the recycling process: 47% of Australians believe that soft plastics can go into recycling; 26% don’t know that our food containers need to be rinsed before going into recycling; and 15% think that we can just put everything in the recycling bin and it will get sorted out at the recycling facility!

Items frequently found in kerbside recycling bins that should not be there include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Broken glassware or mirrors or glass from a photo frame
  • Batteries
  • Clothing and other textiles
  • Food containers with food in them.
  • Building materials, like pieces of timber or bricks
  • Paper towels

No matter how much we’d like to send them to a 'good' place, we have to stop clogging the recycling stream with non-recyclable items. Our aspirational recycling can contaminate an entire batch of recyclables, forcing everything to be sent to landfill.

What simple and sustainable choices can we implement in our everyday lives that can play a crucial part in the environment?

There are so many simple steps that everyone can take that will ultimately make a big difference.  A few of these include:

  • Purchasing and bringing your own reusable water bottle or coffee keep cup.
  • Saying no to single use straws and plastic in a restaurant or bar.
  • Taking your empty bottles or cans to your local Container Deposit Scheme, you can get cash back or donate to your favourite charity - including Clean Up Australia.
  • Choose not to buy fast fashion and instead buy less but more high-quality items.
  • Rinse recyclables and ensure they are properly sorted and going into the correct bins at home.
  • Start composting.

What are some long-term goals or visions for Clean Up Australia?

Clean Up Australia works with community, government, and businesses to provide practical solutions to help us all live more sustainability every day of the year. We recognise that Australia’s environmental challenges cannot be solved in just one day or week of action. Our focus is as much on preventing rubbish from entering our environment as it is removing what has already accumulated.

We aim to educate on important environmental issues and provide some solutions as well as focus on Clean Ups throughout the year.