Clean Up Australia Day "fell off the radar" for Cameron Crombie for a while, but what he saw on Sunday at Mount Ainslie left him convinced that everyone should make more of an effort for the environment.
The two-time shot put world champion para-athlete was among about 30 people picking up rubbish near one of Canberra's most popular lookouts in an event organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
While doing his bit to give back to the community, he met a member of the Afghan military who was also lending a hand to clean up Australia.
He said seeing a visitor to this country taking a keen interest in its future sent a powerful message.
"I think there really is no excuse for people not to make some time or go outside their comfort zone to look after the area that we live in," Mr Crombie said.
While the 35-year-old admitted most of his Clean Up Australia Day memories were from years ago at school, a much younger fellow Australian Institute of Sport para-athlete's recollections are more recent.
The environment is front and centre for sprinter Rhiannon Clarke, an 18-year-old Commonwealth Games silver medallist who is studying wildlife conservation at university.
She said helping reduce waste was incumbent upon everyone, "no matter who you are, where you come from or what you do".
"You can easily just do little things," Ms Clarke said.
"One less plastic straw going into the ocean is saving a turtle."
Ms Clarke encouraged people to look at simple things she did in her day-to-day life, like utilising reusable bags, coffee cups and straws.
She said using REDcycle bins and recycling batteries were also easy ways to make a difference.
Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday followed recent revelations that more plastic waste had been produced in 2020 than the previous year, with research indicating volumes would again increase in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 34 per cent of Australian households produced more packaging waste during lockdown periods.
"Last year saw immense disruption to our lives and the environment," Clean Up Australia chair Pip Kiernan said.
"Over the past 12 months, the uptick in single-use plastics including face masks, coffee cups, food delivery packaging and takeaway utensils has been concerning.
"The damage of single-use plastics left in the environment will outlive us all and action is urgently needed."
The ACT is set to start phasing out single-use plastics in July, and Ms Kiernan said everyone needed to "step up and make a commitment to protecting our environment and living more sustainably every day".
She praised the involvement in Clean Up Australia Day of people like Mr Crombie and Ms Clarke, urging others to follow their lead.
"Australian athletes are great role models and we applaud their commitment to support our message and provide practical and direct support of community action," she said.
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