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Waste and creative ways to reduce it
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Southbank Sustainability Group

06 Nov 2019

Southbank Sustainability Group Image

Waste and creative ways to reduce it

With recycling still being an issue in Melbourne and the amount of waste we produce being an even bigger issue, we want to help people think differently when it comes to waste.

While October was a month focused on gardening and caring for the new spring seedlings in the community garden, we identified an unexpected need. With the Woolies seedling promotion running, we’ve had a lot of requests from people wanting to plant their own little seedlings in the garden.

So, we started a community planting corner for residents that want to plant and care for their own seedlings, which in a small way, reduces plants that would potentially go to landfill as many Southbankers have no balconies or a space for plants at home. We strongly advise everyone to contact us before planting anything in the garden, as anything planted anywhere other than the community corner we’ve created or are not properly labelled will likely be removed in order to maintain the ecosystem.

Interest in composting by Southbankers has also been increasing, receiving more and more messages from residents asking us where they can compost their vegie or bokashi scraps. Composting is something we’ve been trying to establish since our group’s very first meeting in early 2017. It’s a very important step in closing the loop and significantly reducing harmful greenhouse gases released by decomposing food in landfill. Gases that are 25 to100 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. However, starting a community composting hub on council land turns out to be more complicated than expected, even when factoring in bureaucracy. As the climate crisis and Melbourne’s waste problems are becoming increasingly urgent, ensuring a space where Australia’s most densely-populated suburb can compost food waste is becoming more important than ever. To help reduce the red tape, we’ve applied for a newly released CoM waste innovation grant to finally get a communal composting hub established at Boyd, creating educational opportunities to learn all about composting. This is very early days, but hopefully we’ll have some good news in the next month or so. If this is something you are passionate about, we encourage you to email council and asking about its organic waste composting plans for Southbank so it can register the community’s interest.

Learning how to upcycle

While we wait for waste-reducing infrastructure to catch up with residents’ needs, we wanted to focus on how to help people to change habits, reduce waste and get a little creative by repurposing existing items. We thought we’d start with Christmas, as it’s right around the corner and is one of the biggest culprits of generating tonnes of extra rubbish in the summer. Especially when it comes gift-giving - wrapping paper or Christmas cards, made of mixed materials that aren’t recyclable are typically used only once before heading to landfill.

On Saturday, November 2 we ran a free upcycling educational workshop at Boyd where we invited people to learn how to give a second life to items earmarked as waste. Participants were given a taste of Christmas glee while they learned how to make beautiful, festive zero waste gift bags, labels, cards, and bon bons, using common household items, like newspapers. Southbank Local News was wonderful in donating about 300 recollected newspaper copies on their way to recycling, even delivering them to us! A main ingredient for the day, the newspapers were upcycled into all four festive items. The Southbank Library team was just as supportive, sparing different newspapers and magazines no longer in use, as well as lending us textas and colouring pencils, allowing people to express their festive creativity. It was a truly zero waste event! A big “thank you” to Southbank Local News and the Southbank Library for making this possible. Participants left smiling and happy with the new skills they just learned. We know they’ll never look at a newspaper the same way.

Upcoming meet-ups: Our next group meet-ups are on November 9 and 23, 10am at Boyd. Everyone is welcome to join and talk sustainability initiatives, or do some gardening and harvesting.

About the group

A solutions-focused community group of Southbank residents working to bring positive change in sustainability practices and education to our neighborhood, while building a wonderful community of like-minded people. Reach us at southbanksustainability@gmail.com or facebook.com/SouthbankSustainabilityGroup

Artemis Pattichi - Southbank Sustainability Group

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