Council supports and promotes a number of events each year with the support of the Environment Levy. These events include Schools Environment Day, World Environment Day, National Tree Day and more.
The events help educate and inform the community about environmental issues of significance in the Southern Highlands.
Wingecarribee Schools Environment Day first commenced in October 2006 and has since grown to become one of the Southern Highlands most highly anticipated and successful annual events.
Every year approximately 700 students aged 10-12 from many of the local public and private primary schools arrive at beautiful Lake Alexandra Reserve in Mittagong, to learn and take part in environmentally focused interactive activities for a whole day.
Activities vary from year to year, ensuring the event continues to engage the interest of the schools and most importantly the students themselves.
Examples of activities that students have enjoyed in previous years have included worm farming, simple water quality monitoring, creating habitat for native wildlife in the backyard using old boots and pipes, interactions with live native fauna, environmental theatre, creating no dig vegetable gardens and making pizzas using solar energy.
Schools Environment Day provides a positive way of instilling important environmental messages in the minds of the students. It is an effective way of enhancing student respect and understanding of sustainable living and appreciation of the planet and its limited resources. Schools Environment Day also provides an opportunity for schools to network with other agencies.
Schools Environment Day also provides an opportunity for schools to network with other agencies. Agencies that have attended this event and hosted activities include Local Land Services, Wingecarribee Landcare and Bushcare Network, NSW Rural Fire Service, WaterNSW, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, BirdLife Southern Highlands and many more.
Council celebrates World Environment Day on June 5 each year.
In 2019, Council organised a screening of the film 2040 to a sell-out audience at the Empire Cinema in Bowral. The film was followed by a Q&A forum with a group of local panellists.
2040 is a hybrid feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW!
The 2040 journey began with award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film). Motivated by concerns about the planet his 4-year-old daughter would inherit, Damon embarked on a global journey to meet innovators and changemakers in the areas of economics, technology, civil society, agriculture, education and sustainability. Drawing on their expertise, he sought to identify the best solutions, available to us now, that would help improve the health of our planet and the societies that operate within it. From marine permaculture to decentralised renewable energy projects, he discovered that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.
This journey is the central premise for the documentary ‘2040’, a story of hope that looks at the very real possibility that humanity could reverse global warming and improve the lives of every living thing in the process. It is a positive vision of what ‘could be’, instead of the dystopian future we are so often presented.
For more information visit: whatsyour2040.com
Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment, not just for one day, but ongoing.
How to get involved?
Whether you want to register your own Clean Up Australia Day site as an individual, school or youth group, learn if there is a registered site that you can join or discover how your local business can get involved, the Clean Up Australia website has all the information you need.
Check out Clean Up Australia's FAQ's. This should be able to answer most questions you have about getting involved in Clean Up Australia Day.
Why Get Involved?
Clean Up Australia Day is a simple way in which residents can clean up, fix up and conserve our Shire. It is an opportunity for all of us to stop and think of how we can all reduce our impact on the environment.
Removing plastics, like discarded shopping bags and other rubbish left on public land will stop it entering our beautiful creeks and waterways.
We are lucky to have some amazing species that call our region home, such as the platypus and the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish (does not occur anywhere else in the world) who need a healthy, clean environment to survive.
What has Clean Up Australia Day achieved so far?
In Australia alone, 350,000 tonnes of rubbish have been removed from the environment. That's the equivalent of end to end fully laden utes from Sydney to Brisbane via the coastline.
30 million people in 80 countries are now involved in Clean Up the World, which was launched in 1993, after gaining the support of the United Nations Environment Programme.
The Wingecarribee have a great track record of participating in this event, demonstrating their commitment to the local environment and we want to see that continue.
Report Illegal Dumping (RID)
If you see large illegally dumped items, the best thing you can do is report this through the EPA's RID ONLINE tool.
When you report illegal dumping, you help the EPA and local council:
- Protect human health and the environment
- Detect and penalise dumpers
- Find and clean up dumped waste
- Identify dumping hot spots so we can develop strategies to prevent this behaviour in future in your local area.
To find out how you can become an ongoing part of Council's citizen environmental programs, visit Get Involved.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February and is an opportunity for residents to get out and explore some of the Shire’s unique wetlands.
Wetlands are very important as they improve water quality in our catchment by filtering pollutants such as sediments, nutrients, organic, inorganic matter and bacteria. They also support a wide variety of flora and fauna and can provide refuges for wildlife during times of drought. Wetlands can also lessen the impacts of floods, replenish groundwater and in some cases be used by farmers for sustainable grazing practices.
The majority of wetlands in Wingecarribee are located on private land or have restricted public access such as the Wingecarribee Swamp.
However, there are a number of wetlands across the Shire that can be readily accessed by the public. These include:
- Stingray Swamp in the Penrose State Forest
- Paddy’s River Wetland Complex at Paddy’s River
Why Be Plastic Free?
Everyday, each of us make a choice—we can choose to succumb to the throw-away convenience lifestyle of take-away coffee cups, plastic straws and cutlery, plastic bags and plastic drink bottles, OR, we can choose to take a step back and think consciously about what these ‘convenience’ items really mean for our environment, including our rivers, bushland, parks and wildlife. Those short-term conveniences are actually a very long-term inconvenience for the future of our planet.
The Bag It movie is a story of a mans journey of discovery into plastic and just how much it consumes our lives and impacts the planet. You can watch the movie here.
Get Involved and Take Action
Choose to refuse single use plastics. More information can be found at plasticfreejuly.org.You can take the Plastic Free July Challenge. Plastic Free July is a simple campaign designed to get us thinking more about the abundance of single use plastic in our lives.
At any time you can sign up whether it be for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse single-use plastic.
This means refusing plastic whenever you are presented with it e.g: plastic bags (take your own re-usable bag), plastic straws (just say no thank you), plastic water bottles (take your own re-usable water bottle) and/or plastic lined coffee cups (use a re-usable cup/mug).
Try to remember to take your re-usable bags/bottles/coffee mugs with you when you go out. Keep some re-usable bags in your car and always keep your re-fillable water bottles handy.
Tips On How To Be Plastic Free
Learning how to live without single-use plastic means changing behaviours and habits, which can sometimes be difficult. There are lots of resources available to help you avoid or reduce the use of plastics in your life.
We are fortunate to have some inspiring residents who are achieving great things when it comes to reducing their reliance on plastic.
Read Claire's story, "My zero waste journey in the Southern Highlands(PDF, 105KB)" and discover how she overcame some of the challenges of reducing plastic in her life.
Council has purchased a number of plastic free themed books that you can borrow from our libraries.
There are so many resources out there on how to reduce our dependence on plastics, both single use and other types of plastics. The Plastic Free July team have done a great job in collating many of these resources under one website. So, visit Plastic Free July to discover how you can go beyond the month of July and live a life free of plastics.
Did you know?
- There is an estimated 500 million plastic straws used every day*
- In 2015, Australians consumed 726 million litres of bottled water*
- It takes 250ml of oil and three litres of water to make one litre of bottled water*
- Australia only recycled 36% of PET plastic drink bottles, meaning 373 million plastic water bottles end up as waste each year*
- Bottled water requires up to 2000 times more energy to produce than tap water*
- Australians consume an estimated 1 billion takeaway hot drink cups each year!*
- Clean Up Australia Day Bottled Water Fact Sheet 2015
Established in 2007 by WWF Australia, Earth Hour is an internationally recognised event with millions of people around the world taking part in switching off lights at 8.30pm for 60 minutes as a symbolic gesture of solidarity to show they care about our planet’s future.
Wingecarribee Shire Council, in collaboration with the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, has since 2018 invited the community to celebrate this event at the gardens in Bowral. Each year has celebrated a different aspect of environmental sustainability and action.
For this year’s event details please visit the Council event pages.