Today marks World Environment Day, a day set by the United Nations since 1974 to promote worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. This year, the United Nations is focusing on plastic waste and urging citizens around the world to stop using single-use plastic items.
According to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "every year, more than eight million tonnes (of plastic) end up in the oceans."
Eight million tonnes.
So what are local councils doing to address the looming environmental concerns?
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton has set in motion three new NABERS projects which aim to reduce energy, water and waste consumption in buildings across the country.
Ms Upton said buildings of all shapes and sizes are "major consumers of resources and generators of waste."
"Tackling these issues is important to all of us."
The three projects focus on allowing office tenants, apartment dwellers and small businesses to live in more energy efficient buildings, Ms Upton said.
The NABERS for Apartment Buildings program focuses on tackling the energy use in apartment buildings. The project measures and scores energy used in common property areas - like carparks, gyms and lobbies - which can account for up to 60 per cent of a buildings total energy use.
The NABERS Co-Assess Application project focuses on energy consumption within workspaces and taps into information on central services, like lifts, lobby lighting, heating and cooling systems to make it easier and cheaper for office tenants.
The NABERS Waste Platform is an online system that helps commercial building managers monitor and manage their waste data in real-time.
Ms Upton said NABERS has effectively addressed waste issues on a grand scale over the 20 years since the program has been implemented.
"It has become a model internationally on how to reduce a buildings' energy and water consumption and decrease waste sent to landfill," she said.
"Importantly, this grew as a NSW initiative and has now been adopted nationally - it has achieved so much for our environment."
While for many of us, the matter of the environment is out of sight and out of mind, the global environment desperately needs our help and World Environment Day is a good place to start.
To find out more about World Environment Day click here
Media and Communications Coordinator, Cities Leadership Institute