Picking up rubbish in local spaces helps to protect and restore them
Image: Michael Hayward | DOC


Take action to protect your natural spaces by picking up rubbish.

Why pick up rubbish?

This Conservation Week we are challenging you to take action for nature and pick up rubbish to protect the local spaces that matter to you. The places you go to have fun, exercise, and relax. The places that are also important for our plants and wildlife.

Rubbish can be found everywhere, and we all know it’s bad for the environment – it harms our land, soil, waterways, and wildlife. Cleaning it up is a big job but if we work together, we can protect and look after our natural spaces.

By picking up rubbish to protect your space and the nature that enriches it, you will support local wildlife and your own wellbeing. Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata – when the land is well, the people are well.

The space that matters most to you might be your favourite beach, or a bike trail. Maybe it’s the sports field you play at, the local park you take the kids to, or nearby hills where you go walking. It could be the loop you run around your neighbourhood with your dog, or the walk to a café you go to with family and friends.

How to take action

Pick up rubbish in your local space

A bum bag/fanny pack can be useful when cycling

Take a moment to look round next time you are in a space that matters to you. Start by taking notice how much rubbish there is and where it tends to gather. Then when you next plan to be there, pack protective gloves, hand sanitiser and a bag. You could use a:

  • a paper supermarket bag
  • bin liner
  • extra doggy bags
  • reusable shopping bag
  • garden sack
  • lined bum bag/fanny pack
  • small running backpack.

Make it your goal to fill your bag before you return home. Take photos of your bag and share them online to challenge your friends to take action too. Use our #ConservationWeek hashtag to inspire others.

Organise a group clean-up

Make an even bigger impact and organise a rubbish clean up. Work together with your family, friends, school or community group and tackle a bigger space together.

To stay safe and have a more enjoyable time, we have advice on how to run a beach-clean up to help you get started. But the following items are recommended for any clean-up effort:

  • hand sanitiser
  • rubbish bags
  • protective gloves.

Dispose of rubbish appropriately after your clean-up. This might be at your local refuse station, recycling centre, or in rubbish collection bins at home. Check out your local council’s website for where you can drop off rubbish if needed.

You should also make sure to plan the right clothing for your clean up. This might be as simple as warm clothing if you are heading to a more remote location. Or choosing visible clothing if you will be working near roads.

Start with your own rubbish

Show your love for nature by being prepared to take your own rubbish away with you, including your apple cores and banana peels. Take a bag or air-tight container to store your rubbish.

Before you go out, reduce the rubbish you might have by removing as much packaging from the items you plan to take as possible, and pack any food into reusable containers.

Help keep your favourite spaces clean by not contributing to the rubbish left there. 

Other ways to protect your spaces

Make a difference every day and take action by picking up rubbish on your daily commute. You could set a target each day and aim to pick up that many pieces of litter while on your journey.

If you have children, talk with them about the importance of keeping our natural spaces clean and tidy to enjoy and involve them in your rubbish pickups.

Get friends together for a beach or nature walk on the weekend and pick up rubbish as you go. 

Protect wildlife in natural spaces and pick up food waste. Even if discarded food waste can break down, when it’s left in the wrong environment it attracts pests that harm our birds. Most food waste breaks down so slowly, it can last long enough to cause serious harm. Even an apple core can do lasting damage when left outdoors.

Reduce the amount of rubbish you produce at home. Start by investigating items you could swap with plastic free alternatives.

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