Sustainable Us – a Community Initiative

Hill Top School Embraces Sustainability

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

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

By providing clear and relevant community resources, we hope to empower you to live sustainably and reduce your environmental footprint.  

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

By exploring a different sustainable living theme every month, we can focus on key concepts and build up our knowledge across the year.  

Behaviour change does not happen overnight, it usually comes from an internal drive to change. This drive an be influenced by different things including cost savings, environmental impact, or even the influence of your parents.

Understanding the impact your behaviour has on the environment is often the driver for many people. Reducing your energy use is one small thing you can do, for example by switching off lights when you leave a room. This may seem like a habit to some, but it is a learned behaviour.

Learning Opportunity  

January is often a time to look at what you want to achieve in the year ahead and think about the year that has ended. What did you learn, what do you want to change, what struggles did you encounter, and how did you manage them?

You might find yourself making a New Year’s resolution, like 'eat chocolate only on Saturday', or 'go to the gym four times a week'.

New Year’s resolutions can be applied not only to life in general, but also behaviours that are environmentally friendly. We would like to draw your attention to a few small behaviour changes that can make a big difference:

  1. Keep your clothes for 9 months longer than you had planned. This alone can help reduce our clothing-related carbon, waste and water footprints by 20-30%. Calculate your reuse impact with Charitable Recycling's Reuse Calculator.
  2. Find out what impact turning off your lights will have with Turn off your lights.
  3. There is always room for improvement in our recycling habits. The EPA's Household Recycling guide includes information about how everyday recyclables are managed and how to dispose of other waste.
  4. Pick up three pieces of rubbish every day.
  5. Plan your meals for the week to avoid food wastage. 

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. 

As well as buying 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 get you started. 

Learning Opportunity 

On 1 February 2023, join us in Colo Vale for a tour of local regenerative farm Musett Holdings, followed by Wariapendi Native Nursery.

During the Mussett Holdings tour you will learn how to grow your own vegetables, what regenerative practices are, and take some delicious products home.

At Wariapendi, you will learn all about native plants, when and where they should be planted, and the benefits associated with growing them in your own garden. You will be able to use a $20 voucher towards the price of a plant to take home.

Bookings are essential, please book online here.

Watch our Sustainable Us episode below about growing food at home, which features our 2022 Duck Foot Farm tour.

When food scraps and other organic household waste decompose in landfill they emit potent greenhouse gas called methane.

By shopping and cooking smarter, we can reduce the amount of food waste we produce and further negate the impact by home composting and turning that waste into rich fertile soils for our gardens.

Initiatives like Share Waste make it quick and easy for anybody to turn unwanted food scraps into compost.

Learn more about how to start your own home compost.

Learning Opportunity 

See our video below about sharing your excess fruit and vegetables with the community.

 

Wingecarribee Earth Hour Sculpture in the Garden – 25 March 2023

Earth Hour 2023 celebrations will be bigger and better than ever and will be held at the beautiful Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens in Bowral.

This free community event will include environmental stall holders, family fun, entertainment, activities, and food and drinks. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a movie session, live music, and a recycled material sculpture competition.

Enter the sculpture competition

Earth Hour Sculpture in the Garden online bookings

If you would like to be stallholder or get involved, contact us at: SustainabilityServices@wsc.nsw.gov.au

Healthy soils are a natural carbon sink and can hold significantly more water than nutrient-depleted soils. This 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.

Learn more about how you can plant natives to protect your garden from global warming.

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 in future climates. It is a plant selection tool underpinned by the latest scientific evidence and provides growers, nurseries, landscape architects, and urban greening professionals with the resources to develop resilient and sustainable urban green spaces for the future.

Learning Opportunity 

Event details to be confirmed soon.

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 per cent of the Shire’s total emissions are estimated to come from vehicle transport. By planning ahead and opting to walk, cycle, carpool, or take public transport instead, you can help reduce these emissions.

We can also choose to transition electric for our next cars or bikes and couple this with using renewable energy to further reduce our community's 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 Green Vehicle Guide, a car comparison website that provides comprehensive information on vehicle emissions and that allows you to compare your current car with other cars that would be better for our environment. 

Learning Opportunity 

Nationwide Walk Safety to School Day will take place on 19 May 2023. This is an annual, national event when all primary school aged children are encouraged to walk and commute safely to school.

Walking to school benefits health through physical activity, reduces vehicle emissions, and increases road safety awareness by teaching children safe ways to walk to school.

Giving children the skills to walk to school safety can improve their mental health. Trusting them (when age appropriate) to walk to school can also help build self-esteem by providing an increased sense of independence. 

Read more about 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 

More information:

 

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

Ethical investing is not just about encouraging everyone to move their money into earth-friendly institutions, but also to raise awareness about what financial institutions do with your money.

In this webinar we discuss the various financial institutions and break down the process of either moving your money or approaching the institution to encourage change.

Watch the Market Forces - Ethical Investing webinar.

Becoming an active participant in local groups working towards 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. 

Learn more about how to get involved in your local community.

Learning Opportunity 

Join us for a free coffee day. Visit any café in Wingecarribee Shire participating in the Green Caffeen initiative for a free cup of coffee.

Date to be confirmed.

Tips to help reduce your plastic use:

Watch our Plastic Free July video, Five items to never leave home without

  • Use a keep cup, or if you don’t have one, use one from Green Caffeen, a cup exchange programme used in many cafés throughout the Southern Highlands. Find a participating café near you.
  • Use reusable produce bags while grocery shopping, or ask at the shop if they have a cardboard box you could use.
  • Try to buy vegetables or meat that is not pre-packaged.
  • The Great Plastic Rescue can help NSW businesses manage their clean single use plastic items by sorting and processing them.

Here are even more ideas to reduce waste in our community.

Read about the plan in NSW to phase out single-use plastics, which started in June 2022 with a ban on thin plastic bags. The second phase started in November 2022, with single-use plastics like straws, cutlery and others listed.  

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's PowerSavers program

New government subsidies for hot water upgrades

The Energy Savings Scheme cuts electricity and gas use by creating financial incentives for households and businesses to replace their old water heaters with more energy efficient models.

Residents can upgrade from an electric or gas model to a solar water heater or a heat pump water heater.

Check your eligibility and access the financial incentives by contacting an approved supplier.

Learning Opportunity 

Join energy expert Adam Corrigan from YourEnergyFriend at an energy efficiency workshop. 

Adam has many years of experience in helping people reduce their home energy costs and will cover:

  • What uses the most energy in your home?
  • Is solar the best option for you?
  • What can you do to reduce your energy use?
  • How can you prevent heat from leaving your home?
  • What types of heating is most efficient?

Stay tuned for event details, or subscribe to our Eventbrite page to be notified immediately of new events.

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
  • One of the most effective ways to prevent your warm air escaping your home is by installing pelmets.
Sustainable Us – Energy Use video series
Sustainable Us: Energy – Solar Power
Sustainable Us: Energy - House Batteries
Sustainable Us: Energy - Understand Your 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. 

More information:

Market Forces  

Sustainable Invest NSW

Ditching single-use plastics in NSW

Learning Opportunity 

Join us in September for our annual sustainability celebration, the Greener Footprint Fair. This Sustainable Us event aims to inspire and connect residents with local sustainable living experts.

The free, family-friendly event in Bowral will include stallholders promoting sustainable living initiatives as well as food and drink stalls, live music, and a schedule of speakers to cover a range of sustainability subjects. 

Stay tuned for more details, or subscribe to our EventBrite page to be notified immediately of event updates.

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 by for example installing insulation, draught proofing, and putting up external shading, you can easily and cost effectively stabilise internal temperatures and reduce your energy consumption. 

More information:

Learning Opportunity

Adam Corrigan joined us in October 2022 to explore ways to make our homes more sustainable.

Important considerations were covered around improving your homes energy efficiency, here is a brief list of some of those mentioned:

  • Shop around for energy savings: compare energy providers
  • Draught proof your home to prevent heat loss. For example, you can add draught protection found at most hardware stores at the bottom of your doors.
  • Create natural shade for a window that gets a lot of summer sun to reduce the temperature inside your home in the warmer months. For example, plant deciduous trees to allow sunshine in during winter and harness the sun's natural warmth, while shading you in summer.
  • If planting a shade tree doesn’t work for you, you can add an awning or a structure to shade the window at the peak times of the day.
  • Turn down the temperature of your boiler to save on heating costs.
  • Completely turn off appliances that use standby power to save on electricity costs. Standby powers savers can be purchased online or from Officeworks.
  • As gas appliances break, replace gas with electric appliances. Electricity prices are coming down, while gas is going up. Electricity retailers are also increasing their green power inputs
  • Improve your home's property value with a star rating. In the ACT, homes are often sold with a star rating which has been shown to improve the value of the property. Read more about Home Score Cards.

Sustainable Us – video series 

 

Upcycling old items or sharing resources that might otherwise have ended up in landfill with your local community is a great way to reduce the emissions impact of raw material requirements for new products.

By buying second hand and reusing old items, not only will you reduce landfill waste but you will also reduce the demand for new items to be produced. As the old saying goes ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. 

Learning Opportunity

The Garage Sale Trail returned to Wingecaribee in November 2022 after a two-year hiatus.

Wingecarribee Shire Council will be holding the Garage Sale Trail again in 2023. Stay tuned for dates and details.

The 2022 concept and theme were well received locally. The trail was run over two weekends simultaneously nationwide. Residents in Wingecarribee did an excellent job helping to re-home used goods.

Our community showed excellent commitment with the following numbers:

  • Total of 36 garage sales and stalls
  • 2,362 visits to our Garage Sale Trail site
  • Estimated 1,271 participants
  • 14,004 kg of items protectively reused 

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 Craft Workshop at Reviva Centre

On Saturday 3 December 2022 we ran an event for kids at Reviva, which is part of the Resource Recovery Centre in Moss Vale. We saw a range of kids attend from 3 years old to 10 years old.

Reviva houses all things discarded, from old sun lounges, power tools, to pre-loved kids’ toys. We used donated goods for the craft materials, so no new items were required.

The idea of the workshop was to show kids how easily old items can be turned into treasure and to kick start the festive season. The kids created little paper angel decorations, a Christmas tree from old books and special Christmas gift bags. We hope to run this workshop every year as the kids had such a great time.

Stay tuned for next year’s event.

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.