Love Your Waterways

Removing a key threatening process from creeks and mangrove habitats.

Love Your Waterways

Removing a key threatening process from creeks and mangrove habitats.

Community Participation -


The issue

Litter is a significant problem in all waterways especially around urban areas.  Stormwater drains attempt to stop litter through a litter diversion and gross pollutant traps, but this is a true 'end of pipe' solution.

Groups such as Litter Free Parramatta, Plastic Pluckers, Friends of Toongabbie Creek, FITA and Haslams Creek Group in the Parramatta River Catchment organise litter pickups regularly, not just for Clean Up Australia Day.  The location of litter pickups is restricted by access: mangroves can only be accessed infrequently to prevent damage to their pneumatophores and many creek sites are dangerous for children due to erosion of creek banks. Community members want to know how to prevent litter reaching the waterways and are highly interested in circular economy measures and packaging changes. 

Photo 1: Exploring for turtles on a cleaned up Toongabbie Creek.  Photo 2: Mangrove clean up at George Kendall Reserve Ermington.

The solution

Litter has many causes and there are many programs working together to tackle the problem.  Our catchment approach focuses on waterways. Love Your Waterways is mainly a communications campaign aimed at encouraging individual actions.  The messages are simple:

  • Cover it Up- keep dirt, leaves and other garden waste away from stormwater drains
  • Keep it Clear – rain water is the only thing that should go down a stormwater drain
  • Reduce Your Rubbish- dispose of your litter correctly and swap soft and single use plastics for reuseable products
  • Wash it Wisely – wash your car and household equipment the right way to prevent cleaning products from affecting water quality and marine life
  • Leave Only Paw Prints – pick up pet waste to stop bacteria and other bugs from entering our waterways.

The Reduce Your Rubbish element was expanded to include: Remember to Reuse; Recycle it Right; Bin it or Bring it home; party without Plastic and Keep your loo litter free.

The impact

Measurement of social media campaign is incudes these metrics: Page followers; Posts; Average organic reach per post; Average engaged users per post (post clicks, reactions, comments & shares); Average engagement by post. In the 2022 campaign Average engagement by post was 9% (engagement above 1% is considered good). 

The 2023 survey of park users conducted on behalf of PRCG and Sydney Olympic Park by the NSW Ethnic Communities Council sustainability program provided very useful information about perceptions of litter, especially for recently arrived migrants. The focus on education sessions was party without Plastic. The survey showed strong support for banning balloons in parks near waterways. 

Key facts

  • We changed timing of social media campaign to November (summer) to promote Party without Plastic messages.
  • Litter pickups are linked with citizen science activities.
  • It was more effective to have litter messaging delivered by bilingual bicultural workers.
  • Strongly recommend to work with councils on community free film nights in parks - great audiences with time to talk.

Project Partners