Thursday, 18 March 2021
Clean Up Australia Day
Earlier this month I attended some Clean Up Australia Day events around my community, including: an early morning event in New Farm Park, a visit to the blue army event organised by Cleanaway at Auchenflower, an event in Victoria Park in Spring Hill, and a wonderful event organised by a collection of neighbours and students from Holy Spirit and New Farm state schools around Browne Street in New Farm.
Now, in its 31st year, Clean Up Australia Day is Australia's largest community based environmental event. It's about Aussies putting on their gloves and taking some practical, real action to look after our local environment. In addition to the many bags filled with litter, there are always some surprise discoveries. This year, we found a surprisingly high number of shoes, and, while I doubt that anyone deliberately intended to leave their cocktail heels in a garden bed in New Farm Park, it is a reminder of a very serious challenge. We have a long way to go to achieve better outcomes for the recycling of shoes, clothing and fashion accessories, despite the very best efforts of some of our charitable recyclers. It's one of the reasons the government has been so excited to invest seed funding into a new product stewardship scheme called Circular Threads. It's about looking at how we can reduce waste around workwear and uniforms and the textiles within them.
Another challenge with textiles can be the microplastics released from those textiles, including when we wash our clothes. That's why the government announced just a couple of weeks ago in our National Plastics Plan that we're working to bring in new standards around microplastic filters for washing machines and whitegoods.
Last week I also had the pleasure of attending the launch of a social enterprise in Milton called the Styling Station. Their mission is to make sure that clothes, shoes and accessories that might otherwise end up in landfill are instead going to support women in need. I want to give a big shout-out today to the Styling Station founders, Benice Callanan and Kylie Muntz, for their hard work in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our Brisbane community. Everyone has a responsibility and a role to play when it comes to achieving a more sustainable and circular economy. We've all got a role to play, whether it's getting your hands dirty on Clean Up Australia Day, whether it's supporting sustainably focused charities like the new Styling Station in Milton or whether it's about designing better recycling systems or designing better products, such as putting microplastic filters on whitegoods. And, as a community all working together, that's where we can achieve real, practical changes every day.