Sustainable Us – a Community Initiative

Sustainable Us is a Council run community-based initiative that was created in 2022 in response to the ever-growing concern of global warming and lack of clear environmentally sustainable living information. 

Sustainable Us aims to help deliver this information to the Wingecarribee community through a series of monthly workshops, events, video series and other initiatives.  

By providing clear and relevant resources to the community, we hope to empower you to continue living more sustainably and to further reduce your environmental footprint.  

If you miss a workshop this year, don’t worry we plan to run these events yearly from now on. 

The primary concepts of sustainable living have been broadly split across 12 key themes with a new step to be explored each month. By tackling a new theme every month we can focus on key concepts and build up our knowledge across the year. 

In 2022 Robertson has been chosen for the Sustainable Us Village Program. The Village Program has been set up to showcase the efforts of one community per year.  

Healthy soils are a natural carbon sink and can hold significantly more water than nutrient depleted soils, which in turn improves fertility and reduces run off and flooding. By choosing the right native plants for your garden and managing soils you can help regenerate the land and provide habitat for native animals.  

For more information on how you can plant natives and help to protect your garden from the impacts of global warming click here

Learning Opportunity  

On the 29th of January 2022 in Robertson the Sustainable Us initiative hosted a workshop on what planting native species in your garden can do for the environment. 

The speakers presented ways we can future proof our garden against global warming by planting natives and reduce our environmental footprint through land conservation

Key Speakers:  

Luke Maitland – Director @ Native Grace Nursery, Robertson

Karen Guymer – Coordinator Natural Resources, Wingecarribee Shire Council  

Jill Cockram – SH Community Gardens Network & Regen Action

Robertson Environment Protection Society

Ange Clarke – Convener of the Robertson Community Gardens

 

Sustainable-US-page

 

Which Plant Where’ is a culmination of 5 years of research investigating which horticultural species will survive in Australian urban landscapes, not only now but under future climates. This plant selection tool is underpinned by the latest scientific evidence, providing growers, nurseries, landscape architects and urban greening professionals with integrated tools and resources to develop resilient and sustainable urban green spaces for the future.

 

Much of what we buy at the shops typically comes from a very long way away, resulting in emissions from transport and uncertainty in how sustainably sourced the raw materials for the product are.  

By buying locally grown and produced foods we can be more confident in the transport emissions being lower while also supporting small local businesses to continue to source environmentally sustainable products. 

Further to procuring environmentally sustainable food you can also choose to grow your own! Whether you have a garden yourself or would like to get involved in a community garden near you, there are number of useful resources to help you get started. 

For more information on how you can purchase locally grown produce or start your own organic garden click here.  

For information how you can get involved in  your local community garden click here.

Learning Opportunity 

In February we organised a tour at Duck Foot Farm in Moss Vale to give local residents an opportunity to see what regenerative farming is first hand, and to also take home some tips on gardening to enable them to grow their own food at home. Justin Hartley took us around his beautifully maintained small-scale farm where they practice No Till Regenerative Farming methods to ensure soil nutrients are maintained in the soil where they are most beneficial and that the vegetables are as nutritious as possible.

Justin has worked tirelessly creating a functional, regenerative farm, which everyone enjoyed immensely. Thank you for your time, Justin.

We aim to run a similar event each year in keeping with this month’s theme.

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When food scraps and other organic household waste decomposes in landfill they emit methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. 

By shopping and cooking smarter we can reduce the amount of food waste we produce and then can further negate the impact all together by home composting and turning that waste into rich fertile soils. 

Initiatives like Share Waste make it quick and easy for anybody to turn their unwanted food scraps into compost. If you would like to know more about how you can get involved or for more information on how you can start your own compost click here.

Learning Opportunity 

Wingecarribee Earth Hour

This year’s Earth Hour was held in partnership with the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens at their spectacular gardens location. Although the sun was not out, the day was a success with all local stallholders experiencing great interest from the community. We had a variety of stalls all showcasing different ways we can continue to live more sustainably. We would like to thank everyone who attended and our stallholders for their commitment especially with the ominous clouds overhead.

Audience-shot

Clean up Australia Day

Unfortunately due to bad weather this year, Clean Up Australia Day had to be cancelled.

We aim to run similar events each year in keeping with this month’s theme.

Behaviour changes such as switching off lights, recycling where you can or reducing packaging waste seem like small things but together add up fast and really can make a massive difference if everyone chooses to do the right thing. 

For more information on what you can do to make a difference and how that impacts emissions please see below: 

Learning Opportunity 

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - Do it Right!

Unfortunately we weren’t able to hold the workshop this year, however we plan to hold it each year.

Getting around in a Shire as large as Wingecarribee can be challenging and most times the easiest option is just to hop in the car and drive.  

23% of the Shire’s total emissions are estimated to come from vehicle transport. By choosing to plan ahead and opting for walking, cycling, carpooling or taking public transport you can help to reduce this number. 

Additionally, by looking to choose electric for your next car or bike, and coupling this with renewable energy, we can further reduce the emissions from combustion engines. 

We understand the transition to an electric or hybrid car may not be an option right now for everyone. However, if you are considering a new car, please have a look at the website below called the Green Vehicle Guide. It is a government car comparison website which has comprehensive information on all vehicle emissions. You can select the details for your current car and find a satisfactory car which will be better for our environment.

For more information on how you can choose to move around more sustainably please see below: 

Green Vehicle Guide

Learning Opportunity 

The month of May encompasses the Nationwide Walk Safety To School Day. On the 20th of May Schools across Australia participated in this important event. Walking to school has benefits with regards to health through physical activity, reducing emissions from vehicles and also increased road awareness, by teaching children safe ways to walk to school.

Giving children the skills to walk to school safety, not only has the above benefits, but has a flow on effect on their mental health, trusting them (when age appropriate) to walk to school safely can build self-esteem and give them a sense of independence.

This year many of our schools across the Southern Highlands participated. Some schools held an information session indoors, where an outdoor session was not possible, or deemed unsafe. Some schools were able to be involved in a walk to school activity in a supervised and safe environment.

We aim to build on the local awareness and importance placed on the benefits of walking and road safety for the children of the shire.

Walk Safely to School Day  

walk-to-school

Often overlooked in the global warming discussion is the impact that our voice has when purchasing certain products or investing in certain industries. Advocacy is another way we can live sustainably, by talking to others about the impacts of global warming we can educate each other and push for change amongst our community 

For more information on how you can get involved click here

Learning Opportunity 

On Saturday the 25th June, Wingecarribee Council hosted the inaugural Wingecarribee Greener Footprint Fair at Bowral's Bendooley Precinct.  

The community-based event provided local sustainable businesses the opportunity to promote their services to residents. The local residents were provided with the opportunity to learn about these local inspiring businesses and get involved where possible. There was over 15 local sustainability stall holders including the likes of WinZero, Endeavour Energy and local wildlife groups with the snakes from Australian Wildlife Sanctuary being the biggest hit for the kids. 

The second hand book sale exceeded expectations and raised over $1000 with all proceeds being donated to local wildlife charities, while Moss Vale High School students were able to raise $1500 towards their solar project. 

Kids-snake

Becoming an active participant in local groups who are working together to drive environmental change is often a great place to start for those who just don’t know how. By leveraging the combined experience of the whole Shire, we can learn from each other and really make a difference. 

For more information on how you can get involved within your local community click here

Learning Opportunity 

July is also known as Plastic Free July is a time for reducing your plastic use and changing habits. This month is an opportunity to be more mindful of the waste you create, and there are excellent resources to make this journey easier for all. Here are a few easy things you can do this month:

  • Use a keep cup, or if you don’t have one, or you forgot yours, use a keep cup from Green Caffeen. Green Caffeen is a cup exchange programme their cups are in store in many cafés throughout the Southern highlands. Coffee is one of life’s pleasures and guilt should not be experienced with your warm cup. Click here to find out more information and to find a participating café near you.
  • Buy your vegetables without a produce bag. Most items don’t really need a bag. But for those small items you can buy reusable produce bags.
  • Did you head to the shops without a shopping bag? Ask if they have a box you could use.
  • Try to buy vegetables or meat that is not pre-packaged
  • Did you know you can return your scrunchable plastics to a supermarket near you? Most Woolworths and Coles participate in the RedCycle initiative. Click here to find out more information.
  • Last year we created an excellent video on the essentials to never leave home without, click here to watch the video.
  • For New South Wales businesses who have left over single use plastics, the Great Plastic Rescue is offering to help manage their clean single use plastic items, they will sort and process them. Round 1 registrations close 22 July primarily for lightweight plastic bags, however should you wish to register other single use plastics they can also help you with those. Click here for more information. 

This month on Thursday 21st of July attend any café in Wingecarribee shire who participates in the Green Caffeen initiative for a free cup of coffee!

Click here to find a participating café near you

Have you seen the State’s plan on phasing out single use plastics in NSW? The first ban started in June with thin plastic bags no longer in use. The second phase starts in November with single use plastics like, straws, cutlery and others listed. Click here for more information. 

There are so many waste related changes that you can make. Try the above first, and if you want more ideas click here for more ways to reduce waste in our community.

Sustainable Us – Video series, Episode 7, to be released in-line with this month’s theme

This episode is about creating collaborative networks in your local community. How local schools are taking steps to teach the local community about climate change. And how Bundanoon became a bottled water free town. 

The energy we use in our day to day lives makes up the largest proportion of our emissions and by choosing to cut back or be more efficient in the way we live we can drastically reduce our environmental footprint.  

By switching to LED bulbs, air drying laundry, using fans instead of air-conditioning, and buying the most energy efficient appliances we can start to cut back on the amount of fossil fuel energy we use every day. 

By investing in our own renewable energy sources like solar panels on your roof, solar water heating or purchasing Green Power, our daily impact on the environment will be reduced and there are also additional financial incentives to switch today.  

For more information on how you can reduce your energy consumption and move towards more renewable energy please see below: 

Purchasing Green Power  

Endeavour Energy PowerSavers - Save energy and be rewarded

Sign up for a smart device in your home or be rewarded for already having one. The Endeavour Energy PowerSavers initiative has been developed to help manage peak energy demand across its network in the Wingecarribee area. Endeavour Energy will (providing you are eligible) supply a new smart device to help better manage electronic systems in the home such as your hot water system, heating and air conditioning, electric vehicle charger, solar or battery. If you already have one of the smart devices listed and you sign up to be part of the initiative, you will be rewarded for your participation.

Click here(PDF, 15MB) to download their information sheet or visit them online for more information.

Learning Opportunity 

Our first Energy 101 workshop with Adam Corrigan was a success! Thank you to those of you who were able to attend, what a magnificent turn out. And thank you to Adam for making his way out to the country to share with us some excellent energy insights.

We have a follow up event with Adam Corrigan on home sustainability. Saturday 8th of October, please see the section below in October for further details.

As Adam discussed on Saturday, the best way to reduce your energy costs and become more sustainable is by installing Solar panels on your roof. However, it is not always that simple. We want to hear from you so that we can understand what roadblocks our community is experiencing when it comes to installing solar. Please click here to go to our Solar Uptake Survey to share your thoughts.

If Solar installation is not a possibility, please consider choosing a greener energy provider. Energy costs are skyrocketing currently, it is worth shopping around to see what incentives different providers offer and what their renewable energy or carbon offset options look like. Check out www.energymadeeasy.com.au to compare retailers.

Sustainable-1

Energy Efficiency tips

  • Use a reverse cycle system for heating and cooling
  • If it’s a rainy day use a portable fan indoors to dry your clothes, not the dryer!
  • Install pelmets. One of the most effective ways to prevent your warm air from escaping is by installing pelmets. In October, date to be confirmed, we are running a workshop on how to make one, you will get to take home your own pelmet that you made with some assistance, and the skills needed to make more if needed. Keep an eye on the October section below to book your tickets.

And last, but not least, please visit Adam at www.YourEnergyFriend.com.au to see what else it is he does across New South Wales. 

Sustainable Us – Video series, Energy, Episode 8, to be released in-line with this month’s theme

This month learn about Solar panels, batteries and Electric Vehicles (EV). Also see the steps council has taken to reduce energy usage for both council operations and the community.

Sustainable Us: Energy – Solar Power
Sustainable Us: Energy - House Batteries
Sustainable Us: Energy - Understand Energy Bill 

Often overlooked is how our own money, purchases and investments impact the global market and how certain institutions and business practices can be harmful to the environment. By investing our money in sustainable companies, buying eco certified products and ditching single use plastics we can work towards changing the commercial landscape for the better. 

For more information on what you can do, please see below:

Market Forces  

Learning Opportunity 
Use your money as a force for good – Ethical Investing with Market Forces - Webinar

Thank you to Michelle from Market Forces, who summarised for us the impact these big corporations have on the environment. Market Forces uses the tagline, use your money as a force for good, this is truly what this session was about. The changes that we can all make were broken down to simplify this process, which may often seem insurmountable.

Ethical investing, and more to the point, this webinar was not just about encouraging everyone to move their money into earth friendly institutions, but more to bring about awareness of what financial institutions do with your money. When discussing money we are not just talking about your savings account, but also your insurance, your super, your loans, all of the institutions that receive funds, invest this money to get a return, either for you, for the institution, or both. The money does not just sit in an account earning interest.

In this webinar we discussed the different financial institutions that we all are likely to have monies with. Please head to the Market Forces link below, where simplified tables have been created which details the fossil fuel investments for various corporations (Campaigns drop-down). As well as the steps you should take to encourage your bank to change their practices or how you can find a bank that aligns with your principles (Info drop-down). And please watch the recorded webinar (below) if you were unable to attend.

https://www.marketforces.org.au/

Head to the drop-down menu at Campaigns or Info to find the resources mentioned in this webinar.

Webinar - Wednesday 21st of September at 5pm

Sustainable Us – Video Series, Episode 9, to be released in-line with this month’s theme

This month’s video features local producers who have chosen to adopt regenerative practices that result in healthier produce and landscapes.

As the climate changes our homes will be subjected to increasingly extreme weather events which in turn will increase our dependency on heating and cooling. By improving the comfort of your home through installing insulation, draught proofing, and putting up external shading, for example, you can easily and cost effectively stabilise internal temperatures while also reducing your energy consumption. 

For more information on what you can do, please see below: 

Learning Opportunity

Adam Corrigan joins us to help explore ways to make our homes more sustainable this month. This is the second part to the two-part information sessions, the first of which was held in August. Following further discussion on energy usage, Adam will take us through a selection of small home improvements that can be made to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home. Passive House Principles plays a large role in understanding a home’s energy efficiency which we will discussed in detail on the day. But in a nutshell, Passive House principals are based on keeping your heating and cooling requirements to a minimum, for example ensuring gaps are sealed and your windows are shaded from the sun at the hottest times of the day.

This is a free event, in Colo Vale, scheduled for Saturday 15th of October 2022. Click here for further information and to book.

A home energy assessment is often performed by Adam or one of his team members. If you wish to learn more about these home assessments please click here for more information. 

Sustainable Us – Video series, Sustainable Homes, Episode 10 to be released in-line with this month’s theme. 

Sustainable Us: Sustainable Homes - Heating & Cooling
Sustainable Us: Sustainable Homes - Hot Water
Sustainable Us: Sustainable Homes - Insulation and Sealing
Sustainable Us: Sustainable Homes - Standby Power

Upcycling old items or sharing resources that might otherwise have ended up in landfill with your local community is a good way to reduce the emissions impact of raw material requirements for new products. By buying second-hand and upcycling old items, not only do they not end up in landfill as waste but new items aren’t then needed to be produced. Like the old saying goes ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. 

For more information on what you can do click here 

Learning Opportunity

Join us on a hunt for treasure. Wingecarribee Shire Council and Garage Sale Trail team bring to you the Garage Sale Trail, back after a two year hiatus. The Trail is run over two weekends in November, simultaneously nationwide! This event is focused on encouraging a circular economy where household items and clothing are given a longer life, which in turn reduces the number of items that unnecessarily end up in landfill. November 12-13th and 19-20th are the dates this year to host or visit a garage sale, when millions of items are destined to find a new home. Did you know that if you were to hold onto your garments for an extra 9 months the environmental impact of clothing would be reduced by 20-30%? 

Rather than buy from a shop, hop onto the trail to snag something hot. Visit here for more information, to register your garage sale, to search for items and to learn about sustainable fashion through the educational tutorials on zoom (three of them!) leading up to the two weekends. Happy hunting!

Sustainable Us – Video series, Episode 11, to be released in-line with this month’s theme

This month’s theme is upcycling. How to turn something old into a useful item. How to upcycle an old cabinet and turn it into a street library. Encouraging second hand shopping, book sales and clothes swaps.

By looking for ways we can create a sharing economy within our community we reduce the need for resources being used to duplicate certain items or activities resulting in lower emissions. For example, connecting with your community and car-pooling to the shops or setting up a local street library for exchange of books are really great examples of where we can share resources and consume less materials. 

For more information on what you can do, please see below: 

Share Hub

Learning Opportunity

FREE CHRISTMAS WORKSHOP

This month the Reviva Centre opens its door for a workshop, a fun session for all ages, especially those with little fingers who get excited about Christmas and will be counting down the days. The workshop will go for 1.5 hours from 9:30am – 11:00am, with a showcase of some Christmas themed ideas for upcycling old goods. We’re thinking of Christmas angels made from old music sheets, ornaments made from ribbons and natural materials and many more ideas.

The Reviva centre houses a wide variety of pre-loved items, from fashion to furniture and everything in between. As well as making some special decorations this year why not gift a pre-loved item and make your Christmas a reuse Christmas. Did you know that if you kept a garment for 9 months longer or bought a preloved garment, we would all be helping to reduce landfill waste by 20-30%.

Bookings are essential. Please click here to book.

Reviva-Workshop

Sustainable Us – Video series, Episode 12, to be released in-line with this month’s theme

This month we investigate how we can share things with our community members. Crop swap in Robertson, is one way communities can make the most of excess food. No food is wasted, and one person is not required to grow a multitude of fruits and vegetables.