Sustainable Us – a Community Initiative

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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 

Join us on the 13th of February for a tour of Duck Foot Farm in Moss Vale to learn more about how we can source locally produce organic foods and start growing our own. 

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 
  • Join us on the 6th of March in Robertson, Hampden Park from 9-11am for this years Clean Up Australia Event supported by the Sustainable Us Project. Morning Tea and clean up equipment will be provided, to find out more click here or to register to attend click here.

   Contact  waste.education@wsc.nsw.gov.au for additional information

  • Join us on the 26th of March in the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens from 5-9pm for this year’s Wingecarribee Earth Hour Event where we will be showcasing some of the Shire’s leaders in environmentally sustainable living and where you can find everything you need to know about becoming more sustainable. 

   Click here to register and for more information.

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 

Join us on the 23rd of April between 10am -12pm at the Robertson School of Arts for a ‘Recycle Right!’ Workshop to learn more about what you can and cannot recycle and the positive impacts of choosing to do the right thing. 

Register here

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. 

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

Learning Opportunity 
Join us on May 20th across the shire as we participate in National Walk Safely to School Day which is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long term well-being of our children.

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 

Please join us on Saturday 25 June at our inaugural Greener Footprint Fair. The Sustainable event is created to inspire and connect residents with local sustainable living experts.

The free family friendly event will take place between 11 am and 4 pm within the Old Town Hall and nearby Bendooley Precinct in Bowral.

Council’s Manager of Environment and Sustainability, Mr Barry Arthur, explained the concept behind the festival.

“Sustainable living is often perceived as costly and people struggle to know where to start.

“Taking the first step is usually the hardest part of the journey but small steps can have a big impact,” he said.

“Our aim is to have a collection of stall holders to promote sustainable living initiatives and provide opportunities for residents to make connections.

“There will be food and drink stalls, live music, educational stalls, and a schedule of speakers to cover a range of subjects on sustainability.”

There will be food and hot drinks for the adults and kids, live music, animals, face painting, educational stalls, and a schedule of speakers to cover a range of subjects on sustainability.

Old Town Hall is located adjacent to Bowral Library at 16-24 Bendooley Street in Bowral. 

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 

Join us on the 4th of July for NAIDOC week. Please click this link for more information.

July is also known as Plastic Free July. Reducing your waste is all about changing habits. This month it is important to be mindful of the waste you create. It is a good opportunity to change a few of those waste creating habits. There 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.

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: 

Learning Opportunity 

This month our focus is on energy, how to best purchase it, and the most efficient way to use it. Adam Corrigan is the founder and owner of Your Energy Friend. He is an expert in energy efficiency assessments and has helped over 6,000 households reduce their energy bills and carbon footprints. Adam be with us for 2 hours to work with individuals and to educate us on our power usage. Come join us to learn more about how to take control of your electric use.

Click here to find out more about what Adam does.

This is a free event, in Bowral, scheduled for 13th of August 2022. Please click here for more information and to register.

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 

This month learn how to invest your money sustainably. What is divesting and how you can achieve it. Join us for a webinar presentation by Market Forces, an Australian NGO that works on exposing environmentally destructive financing practices. Date to be confirmed.

This is a free event, in Bowral, scheduled for Saturday 3rd of September 2022. Click here for further information and to book. 

Regenerative Agriculture Tour

We are fortunate in the Highlands to have several producers who use farming practices that help support the local flora and fauna. This is known as regenerative agriculture. Please see below for information on a related even this month. This month you can embark on a tour of local farms who practice regenerative agriculture. Registration and further event details available soon.

For further information about regenerative farming click here.

This is a free events. Further details including event registration will be available shortly.

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, we will be transported to tour a local property designed with Passive House principles in mind. Adam will guide us through the house while discussing the features and ways we can achieve better energy efficiency in our own homes.

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.

How to make a pelmet

At the Robertson Men and Woman’s shed this month we will run a workshop on how to make your own pelmet. Pelmets in a house above a window helps keep warm air in, improving your home’s energy efficiency.

This is a free event, in Bowral, scheduled for Saturday 8th of October 2022. Click here for further information and to book. 

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

This month learn about Passive House building standards and how you can retrofit you home to be more energy efficient. 

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 tour of the Resource Recovery Centre in Moss Vale and attend a workshop by the Reviva Centre.

This is a are free event. Further details including event registration will be available shortly.

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

Join us this month for our inaugural Christmas car boot sale. Contribute to our sharing economy and clear some space in your home and consequently your mind. Perfect opportunity to source some Christmas presents.

These are free events. Further details including event registration will be available shortly.

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.