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Southbank Sustainability Group

Bringing win after win to Southbank!
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Southbank Sustainability Group

11 Dec 2019

Southbank Sustainability Group Image

Bringing win after win to Southbank!

It’s amazing what a group of passionate residents can achieve.

Driven purely by willpower and a positive environmental vision for our suburb, we’ve managed to bring four incredible wins to Southbank, making 2020 a very exciting and promising year ahead.

We are still riding the wave of excitement from bringing the inaugural environment category Melbourne Award to Southbank! Announced during the formal award gala event on November 16, our group became the first-ever winner of this prestigious award. It was great recognition of the wonderful change our volunteers’ work has brought to our neighbourhood and education we’ve provided to the wider community, which is all in an attempt to tackle the climate emergency from different and creative angles. The heartfelt congratulations and words of encouragement have been pouring in. We thank you all for your support!

2020 will bring even more educational opportunities and workshops. Especially as we just won a 2020 Connected Communities grant for six sustainability-themed educational workshops to be spread throughout the year. Each workshop will aim to reduce individual waste and our use of virgin resources, providing participants with practical solutions to use at home.

Shortly after that, we recorded another win, with a spot in the coveted Melbourne Knowledge Week in May 2020! We’ll be doing guided garden tours where we’ll talk about how it all started, how we operate, challenges we’ve faced and how it provides educational opportunities in a variety of sustainability topics. It will all be aimed at inspiring more people to start communities like ours wherever they are and take positive, organised climate action. The tours will end with a free upcycle workshop where participants will learn how to either turn a plastic bottle into a planter or a newspaper into a gift bag.

And the wins didn’t stop there! A couple of weeks later we found out we won another grant under council’s waste minimisation and innovation fund to finally establish a community composting hub in Southbank, which is something we’ve been trying to get off the ground since our group’s very first meeting in 2017. The red tape kept it static for all these years so we weren’t going to miss the opportunity as soon as we found out about this grant. Now we’ll finally have a space where Southbankers can close the loop and dispose their food scraps responsibly, learn about different composting methods, help pave the way for the council’s organic waste collection system and even help nearby businesses learn how to set up large volume composting and reduce their landfill waste and harmful greenhouse gas emissions. We know this is something many Southbankers have been looking forward to, as this is a solution our neighbourhood desperately needs when it’s dominated by small apartment living. Keep an eye out in the first half of the year for this and email us if you’d like to get involved.

Even with all these wins, we weren’t too busy to participate in Boyd’s Christmas Celebration event on December 5 and teach community members upcycling solutions to cover their Christmas needs without buying anything new. Replicating the success of our November Upcycled Xmas workshop, our amazing volunteers showed about 100 adults and children how to upcycle old newspapers, magazines and even toilet roll tubes into useful festive items such as bonbons, gift tags, tree ornaments and Christmas cards. Everyone had fun and left with some easy solutions to practice at home. We even got a visit from Santa!

Staying in the theme of waste reduction, but once again tackling it from a different angle, on December 7 we organised a well-received talk with council’s waste education officer, who spoke to Southbankers about waste and recycling in Southbank, the council’s new recycling system and how locals can reduce waste in general.

To celebrate an incredible 2019 and the amazing year ahead, we are having a social barbecue on Saturday, December 21 at 11am at the newly opened Boyd Park and everyone is invited to come along and celebrate with us! Bring your own food to grill and drinks if you wish and come find us in the barbecue area next to the new playground to say cheers and celebrate with us. Please keep in mind this is a zero waste event so think reusable and unpackaged instead of single-use items to bring.

We’ll return to our regular fortnightly meet-ups on Saturday, January 11, 10am at Boyd. As usual, everyone is welcome to join!

When 11 of us met over coffee in 2017 to see how we could bring ongoing sustainability activities to our neighbourhood and build a sense of community around this very important issue, which felt too challenging to try and tackle individually, we never imagined that we would get this far. 136 members, a permanent community garden, 108 planters, 400+ seedlings, a harvest of 100kg of organic vegies, 25-plus educational activities, 70-plus meet-ups, and countless diverted kilos of waste and greenhouse gas emissions later, we can’t believe the change we’ve managed to bring to our busy neighbourhood. At the same time, we are starting to realise that this is only the beginning and we are fired up more than ever to transform our suburb’s environmental footprint and help more and more people in their sustainability journey. Here’s to a great year ahead!

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  

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