Keep Australia Beautiful is a slogan any Australian child of the 1980s and 90s will remember well.
It was the heyday of large-scale campaigns targeting litter, including Do the Right Thing and the Tidy Towns Awards.
Both initiatives reminded people it was their responsibility to help keep our country beautiful. The whole nation was inspired to get its hands dirty and clear our streets and waterways of rubbish.
Yet we should never get tired of reminding people to be keep our environment clean, said Peter McLean, National Executive Officer at Keep Australia Beautiful National (KAB).
“If there is one thing all Australians can agree on,” he said. “It’s that littering is unacceptable and we all want less litter messing up this beautiful country of ours.”
Today, education remains a key focus for the organisation.
“It’s about consistently engaging and communicating with people and talking about how litter affects the interrelationships between pride of place and community, and also how it affects wildlife and marine life,” said Peter.
In addition to running litter clean-ups and other removal projects, the tidiest communities in Australia have adopted approaches that prevent litter from falling in public spaces.
“There’s no point in just picking up litter all the time because you’ll be doing that forever. You need to continue to undertake that, but also focus on the prevention side of things,” said Peter.
One preventative measure that's continuing to be successful in Australia is recycling, particularly at home. However, we're less diligent about recycling rubbish when we're out and about.
“When people are at work, or at a sporting game, or when they’re on holidays, they recycle very poorly,” said Peter.
One solution is KAB's Beverage Container Recycling Grants, which are funded by Coca-Cola Foundation. Heading into its fifth year, the program offers communities financial assistance of up to $10,000 to fund projects that improve recycling rates.
In 2013, Keep Australia Beautiful awarded 71 grants, worth a total of $440,000, to communities in every Australian state and territory. Together, KAB and the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation have funded more than 200 projects in four years.
According to Peter, communities use the grants for a range of things including investing in simple recycling infrastructure such as recycling bins in main streets and areas that don’t have recycling bins like sporting fields. Other examples include innovative projects that successfully divert waste from landfill.
Grants are often used to improve the efficiency of recycling operations in a community. One group of councils used the grant to purchase a recycling trailer – mobile infrastructure used at local events to facilitate recycling anywhere.
In 2014, KAB wants to distribute between 70 and 80 grants around the country and invites communities to contact the organisation to discuss their ideas before starting the application process. Check the Keep Australia Beautiful website for more information.