Community litter collections – Covid style

UPDATE: 27 October 2020

MCMC and Friends of Merri Creek applaud your continued efforts to keep the Merri Creek and its tributaries liberated from the accumulation of plastics, polystyrene and other human made detritus that sadly comes through the stormwater drains, is purposely dumped or thoughtlessly discarded.

As the restrictions are very slowly opening up, we are happy to announce that we can support individuals, one household or members from two households to pick up litter along the Merri, Edgars or Moonee Ponds Creek as part of your daily exercise as long as you follow the current advice from

This advice includes:

  • Wearing a face mask at all times
  • Bringing your own gloves and bags (and a pick up stick if you have one) and not sharing these items outside your household members
  • Keeping to the time limit of exercise
  • Not going outside your 25km limit- you can check this here
  • Physical distancing of a minimum of 1.5 metres for others outside your household

The support we can offer at the moment is:

  • Bags and gloves for you to keep (contactless pick up is from Brunswick West)
  • Advice on safe sites and rubbish disposal
  • Instructions on including your picked litter as part of our citizen science project to reduce litter at its source
  • Education sessions for groups via zoom

Ten easy steps to becoming a Merri Creek Litter Champion while following COVID-19 restrictions:

1. Pick a location on the Merri Creek, Moonee Ponds Creek  or surrounds (within your 25 km radius from home) that needs litter removed (post a question on the FB page or email  if you need help finding a safe location or checking if the location you are thinking of is ok).

  1. Pick a date and time to go out with a member/s of your household or if alone invite a friend (physical distance).
  2. Check the weather forecast and ensure the water level of the creek is not too high.
  3. Read over the safety information on the Friends of Merri Creek Litter Collections page…/
  4. Take gloves and a bag to pick up your litter. (Let me know if you need gloves and bags, I have plenty!).
  5. Go to the site and take a photo of what it looks like pre litter pick up.
  6. Pick up litter as you exercise.
  7. Take a photo of how the site looks afterwards and a photos of you with the picked up litter. Do a litter sort and upload your litter collection on the Tangaroa Blue Litter Collections app.
  8. Take litter home and dispose of in recycling and/or rubbish bins.
  9. Clean and store your gloves and bags for another day and let Julia know how you went.

If you don’t feel comfortable yet doing a litter pick up, you can still do these things:

To keep up to date on the current Health advice around COVID-19 stage 4 restrictions please refer to this website:

We look forward to working with you to get rid of litter, and continuing the important work of collecting data on the types and amounts of litter within the Catchment very soon!

Stay safe and see you soon 😷


The guidelines below have been superseded by the above until normal operations can resume.

There is lots of enthusiasm for planning an event with your local community to remove litter from the Merri Creek, particularly after a large rainfall event – usually when large amounts of litter accumulates.|
The Friends of Merri Creek (FoMC) encourage this activity, as long as people are following safety precautions.

If you register your Clean Up event with the Friends of Merri Creek and adhere to our Occupational Health & Safety processes, a number of benefits are open to your Clean Up event. These include your event being covered under our public liability insurance, promotion of your event, access to our Clean Up kit, advice and other resources.

Thankyou for supporting litter collecting activities along Merri Creek – it all helps downstream too.

Successful litter collection, Merri Parade, Northcote.

Successful litter collection, Merri Parade, Northcote.

What about Clean Up Australia Day?
Friends of Merri Creek Litter Clean Ups
Organising your own Clean Up
The Day Before
On the Day
After the Clean Up


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 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.
  • Go along to a Clean Up Australia Day event. Find ones on the Merri Creek by searching here.


Organising your own Clean Up
If you would like to organise your own community Clean Up event, there are just a few things we’d ask you to do:

  • Contact our Rapid Response to litter project coordinator Julia Cirillo,; 9380 8199. Julia is based at Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC).
  • Provide details on your litter Clean Up event and we 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 our litter Clean Up kit with safety information, advice on litter disposal and safe sites on the Merri Creek to conduct your Clean Up event.
  • Call and organise with your local Council to arrange pick up of your collected litter. Check the Council contacts for litter removal within the Merri Creek Catchment for more information and contact details.


What do I need to do to ensure I run a safe Clean Up Event, especially after a large rainfall event?

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.
  • Clean Up Australia Day has a great Site guide safety checklist to help you with setting up a Clean Up event that covers all safety considerations.
  • The Victorian Litter Action Alliance (VLAA) also has great Fact sheets on Safety tips for litter surveys and litter clean ups.
  • 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 Australia wide database managed by Tangaroa Blue. This database stores information on litter removed from waterways and coastal areas. You can use the Tangaroa Blue litter data form or download the Tangoroa Blue litter app from your app store.
  • 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 the Council contacts for litter removal within the Merri Creek Catchment 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 West”.
  • 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.


Friends of Merri Creek Clean Up Kit
FoMC activity registration form
FoMC Site selection safety planning checklist
DHS safe disposal of needles and syringes 2012
Safe handling of syringes – Tangaroa Blue
FoMC snake bite first aid
Council Contacts and advice on litter pick ups during COVID restrictions May 2020


Final litter tally

Final litter tally.