3 ways you can help keep Australian rivers and beaches clean

By Emma Lucey 18 April 2023

Australia boasts an abundance of beautiful lakes, rivers and beaches that are a source of national pride. From the Great Barrier Reef stretching along the east coast to Dove Lake beneath Cradle Mountain in Tasmania to the many beautiful beaches of Western Australia. However, pollution is a growing threat to these natural landscapes. Plastic waste, chemical runoff, and other pollutants can have devastating effects on our marine life and the greater environment.

Here are three simple ways you can do your bit to reduce pollution in our waterways and protect their vital ecosystems.  


 1. Deal with your leftover paint responsibly 

You may be unaware that paint contains chemicals such as solvents and metals that can contaminate our groundwater when disposed of incorrectly and have negative effects on human health. Fortunately, you can drop off your old paint and packaging at designated Paintback collection points, diverting it from landfill and waterways.  

Paintback is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a safe and sustainable solution for disposing of unwanted paint and packaging. Waste paint is treated in a number of ways including energy recovery and liquid/solid separation for water-based paint, minimising landfill over alternative practices. 

If you’ve got DIY projects coming up or just want to declutter your home, find a free Paintback drop-off location near you. 


2. Reduce takeaway and beverage container litter 

Takeaway and beverage containers are some of the most common types of litter found around Australia. The best way to avoid contributing to the litter in our rivers and beaches is to carry your own reusable containers. Make your own picnic at home for bushwalks and beach visits with reusables to take home at the end of the day. Litter in urban areas can end up in our waterways too, so it’s great to get into the habit of using reusables when taking your own lunch to work or to school. 

When you do buy takeaway be sure to responsibly dispose of your packaging. Many beverage containers can be recycled via a Container Deposit Scheme that anyone can use to receive a 10c per container refund.  

If you’d like to make an even greater impact, try safely collecting litter while spending time in nature. Even picking up one little plastic straw can make a difference for our waterways and the creatures that call them home. 


3. Composting  

Composting not only creates a rich, natural fertiliser for your garden, but it also uses up kitchen and garden waste. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, which prevents the release of greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere, and also reduces the need for harmful artificial fertilisers that can pollute our waterways. Composting is easy to do and has numerous benefits for both the environment and your garden. Learn more about composting on our food scraps page.   


The natural beauty of Australia’s waterways is something that should be enjoyed and protected by all. By taking small steps to reduce litter, recycle household products such as paint, and reuse resources such as the composting of food scraps, we can make a positive impact on our environment. It’s up to each of us to work one step at a time to take responsibility and make a conscious effort to create a healthier world.   


Emma Lucey
Emma brings experience in digital media and communications with a background in several industries such as tourism and hospitality. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2022, Emma spent 5 years living abroad in London & Amsterdam where she developed a greater interest in the environment and sustainability. Outside of work Emma enjoys gardening, camping and crocheting.