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Give back to the environment this Christmas

Media Release - 7 December 2010

Christmas is a time for family and friends, but the gift giving season is also a time of excessive waste, which can have detrimental effects on the environment.

Australians produce over 40 million tonnes of waste per year, much of which ends up as discarded rubbish and in landfill. Over this Christmas we will also purchase additional items such as Christmas trees, food, packaging and unwanted gifts.

A recent Australian survey by McCrindle Research has shown that 78.5% of Australians have received a present that they didn’t want. 13.7% of people will throw away these unwanted presents - meaning they go unused from manufacturer to landfill.

Clean Up Australia is encouraging Australians to think about active ways we can cut back on waste this Christmas – It’s as simple as making thoughtful purchases, considering how you dispose of waste and reusing leftover Christmas treats.

In 2009, a staggering $38.7 billion was spent on Christmas celebrations. In addition, it is estimated we spent $7.6 billion on food in December, up to 20% of which was thrown away. That equates to 3 million tonnes of food being wasted a year, which could generate as much as 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman and founder of Clean Up Australia, said, “Over the last 20 years, an estimated 237,500 tonnes of rubbish has been removed by Clean Up Australia Day volunteers.”

“Every Australian produces approximately two tonnes of garbage a year - and we need to reduce this. We encourage everyone to be conscious of our waste during this Christmas period and ‘do our bit’ to reduce its impact on our environment.”

Top Christmas Tips from Ian Kiernan:
  • Rather than buying someone a physical gift like a CD, consider buying them a service, like a singing lesson!
  • Receive a new mobile phone for Christmas and wonder what to do with the old one? Head to http://www.cleanup.org.au/ and click on ‘Clean Up Mobile Phones’. There register to receive a free pre-paid postal satchel that you can use to send your phone to recyclers.
  • If you buy batteries for your new electronic device, try a green option with Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries.
  • Buy yourself a real Christmas tree not a plastic one – they smell fresh, last well, and are biodegradable through your green waste. Research via your local council for Christmas tree pickups.
  • Cut back on gift wrapping, resize large cards to make gift tags, get creative with newspaper or magazines for wrapping presents and recycle the wrapping that you can’t use anymore.
  • Always put on a few kilos extra over Christmas? Get some free exercise over the Christmas break, enjoy our great outdoors – and maybe pick up some rubbish along the way.
  • Got a present you don’t want from an estranged second aunt? Now you don’t have to feel guilty about selling it on e-bay. Second hand goods are a great way to help the environment. 

WHAT:  Australia’s largest community participation event. Get a group together and register your chosen Clean Up Site online.

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 6 March
Business Clean Up Day – Tuesday 1 March
Schools Clean Up Day – Friday 4 March

WHERE: Your local park, waterway, bus area beach or street.

WHO: Everyone is welcome – friends, family, kids, community groups, work colleagues or anyone else.
HOW: Register for Clean Up Australia Day now at www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au or call 1800 CUA DAY for more information.


For any further media information or an interview, please contact:   
Marita Dortins Ph: 02 8197 3408, marita@cleanup.org.au.