On Tuesday 28 February, 80 enthusiastic volunteers donned hats and gloves to tidy up the St Lucia riverbank for Clean-up Australia Day.
The volunteers combed the mangroves down along the Brisbane River collecting approximately 20 wheelie bins' worth of rubbish and many larger items - including a car seat, lounge cushions and street signs.
All the rubbish collected was audited onsite by volunteers to provide us with a snapshot of the litter composition along the river.
Pieces of polystyrene represented the largest single item, closely followed by beverage containers.
Plastic was the most common item, ranging from drink bottles, plastic balls, straws, bottles to cigarette lighters. Made of non-renewable resources, plastic items removed by Clean-Up volunteers are not biodegradable and would, if left on the river bank, survive in the environment for hundreds of years.
Following the clean-up, volunteers enjoyed pizza while listening to Reef Check Brisbane Coordinator Rory Mullory speak about marine debris and the activities undertaken by Reef Check Australia.
Volunteers were reminded that we can all make a difference by looking more closely at our personal purchasing behaviour, becoming conscious of the single-use products, packaging and plastics that we buy and then discard.
A huge thanks to everyone who took part and helped restore our riverbank, and to those who supported the event—especially UQ Sustainability Office, UQ's Centre for Marine Science, Society for Conservation Biology UQ, Brisbane chapter, GEMS, the School of Psychology and the UQ volunteers.
Information on other sustainability events can be found here.