Community litter collections

The Friends were one of the first groups in Melbourne to begin removing litter from an urban creek. Almost every month, the Friends spend a Sunday morning cleaning up litter from various sections along the Creek.

Most litter is washed from the streets by rain, down the drains to the Merri, where it collects on rocks, reeds, grasses and tree branches along the Creek.

You can join one of our events or organise your own - more details below.
There is also the national event - Clean Up Australia Day, held annually in March.

School and kinder litter clean ups and waterwatch activities can be organised through the Merri Creek Management Commitee. 

Friends of Merri Creek Litter Clean Ups
Organising your own Clean Up

What about Clean Up Australia Day?


Friends of Merri Creek Litter Clean Ups
I want to be involved but don’t want to organise my own Clean Up event. Are there Clean Up events I can just go along to?
Yes! The Friends of Merri Creek organise monthly litter pickups during the year.

They are advertised on our website calendar and Friends of Merri Creek Facebook page. All ages are welcome to join us (children must be supervised). We also advertise other community litter Clean Up events. You can subscribe to hear about litter Clean Up days and our other events.

Organising your own Clean Up
You can organise your own community Clean Up event. 
Contact Julia Cirillo - Rapid Response to Litter project coordinator - for more information on support, training, equipment and to help you to choose a location.
Julia's contact details:; 9380 8199.

A few things:

  • The Friends can help promote it to your local community and ensure your event is covered under our public liability insurance to protect your volunteers.
  • You can borrow MCMC's litter Clean Up kit with safety information, advice on litter disposal and safe sites on the Merri Creek to conduct your Clean Up event.
  • You need to call and organise with your local Council to arrange pick up of your collected litter. Check Council contacts for litter pick ups for more information and contact details for councils in the Merri catchment.


What do I need to do to ensure I run a safe Clean Up event, especially after heavy rainfall?
The day before the event

  • Check weather conditions. If there has been a major rain event, water can still rise a few days afterwards.
  • Conduct a site safety assessment of the site you have chosen. After heavy rain, large deposits of mud, puddles and slippery surfaces are left behind. You need to be aware of these hazards to inform your participants on the day.
  • FoMC has developed a Site guide safety checklist to help you with setting up a Clean Up event that covers all safety considerations.
  • Remind and encourage participants to bring gloves, wear sunscreen, sensible clothes (hat, trousers, long sleeves, waterproof and sturdy, covered footwear. Wear a hat and sunscreen on hot, sunny days and bring water.


On the day

  • Give all participants a safety induction using documents below - they are included in the Clean Up kit.
  • Use the FoMC activity registration form to record your participants. If preferred, Julia can arrange an online sign in form so you can get participants to sign in via your tablet at site or on participant’s smart phones.
  • Where possible nominate a participant to record what litter you have collected. As part of our citizen science responsibilities, and to determine the main sources of litter, FoMC are contributing to the Victoria wide Litter Portal, LitterWatch Victoria.  This database stores information on litter removed from waterways and coastal areas. You can register as a LitterWatch volunteer and add your litter collected at LitterWatch.
  • Never collect litter in the creek itself. Make sure you warn participants of any safety issues you found when completing your site assessment.
  • Be safe!! Stick to the banks and warn participants that the banks get slippery after rain. Vegetation along creek banks can’t always be walked through - look for hazards such as covered holes, fallen dead trees, slippery rocks, steep banks, blackberry patches, and snakes.
  • Friends of Merri Creek encourage recycling of any uncontaminated litter especially clean plastic bottles. To recycle, you need to separate the recyclables from the other litter and organise members of your Clean Up crew to take them home to their own bins to recycle. Check Council contacts for litter pick ups to see if your Council will separate and pick up recyclables. Bring along plastic or reusable bags to sort your collection into and keep separate bags for recycling and waste. To learn what can and can’t be recycled visit your local council’s recycling page.


After your litter event

  • Email your council contact with specific details and a photo of where to pick up litter. Here is an example email: “Dear--- please find attached a photo of the litter we have collected from our Clean Up event today. We have -- bags of rubbish and – of recyclables (if relevant) to be picked up at e.g. 2 Lee Street, Brunswick East”.
  • Make sure you leave litter near a road that a truck could access and can be clearly seen to make pick up easier.
  • Return any equipment, filled out registration form, Tangaroa Blue data sheet (if not using the app) and report any safety concerns to Julia Cirillo at MCMC.


What about Clean Up Australia Day?
Clean Up Australia have a great website and lots of resources to help set up a community clean up day.
Besides the National Clean Up Australia Day (CUAD) on the first Sunday of March, the CUAD team also encourage community to arrange litter pick-ups anytime Every Day Clean Up.
If you register your site and event with CUAD they will also provide safety information, a clean up kit and other resources and advice. Using the CUAD resources is a great idea, but they will not know which Merri Creek safe sites need litter removed, nor do they collect specific information on what litter has been collected.



Friends of Merri Creek litter Clean Up kit
Activity registration form
Site selection safety planning checklist
Safe disposal of needles and syringes (DHHS, 2012)
Syringe poster (Tangaroa Blue)
Snake bite first aid
Fact sheet: Safety tips for litter surveys and litter clean ups. (Victorian Litter Action Alliance)
Council contacts for litter removal within the Merri Creek Catchment (November 2022)

    IMG_2810       IMG_0136        final litter tally