Southbank local makes sustainability a priority

Spencer Fowler Steen

When Sara Riva moved to Southbank, she quickly realised there was something missing.

Having lived in Yarraville and Newport for 10 years where the local council was providing free permaculture courses for everyone – underscoring a focus on sustainability – Ms Riva couldn’t find anything like that in Southbank.

She put it down to the different demographics in Southbank where many people lived in apartments or owned investment properties, creating a different sort of community.

“I thought I may as well start a Facebook group to see if people here might have the same ideas,” Ms Riva said.

“Slowly, we started with a few members, and three years later, we’re at around 150 members now.”

Ms Riva’s public Facebook group named “Southbank and South Melbourne Zero Wasters” is a space where people can share information and ideas in the spirit of creating a more sustainable community.

People in the group share information about finding the best renewable energy providers, where to refill shampoo bottles, how to create a worm farm on an apartment balcony or how to repair an old pair of socks – anything geared towards becoming more sustainable.

While Riva said the group should be the first stop for any locals who are conscious of the environment, she said many people had stayed for the community connections.

“I’ve seen a lot of discussions starting from the group,” she said.

“People start to recognise each other then they go for coffee or a for a walk, and it grows into getting to know your neighbours.”

But starting a group focused on sustainability hasn’t been an entirely easy process for Ms Riva.

“I’ve definitely found it a challenge,” she said.

“In terms of friendships, and in terms of community spirit, it’s really slow in growing. I say to myself I’m lucky because I bump into people in my building. A lot of people I’ve met in Southbank say they don’t see the people in their own apartment buildings.”

Asked how her group was different to the numerous Melbourne Good Karma Network Facebook pages already providing a platform for community connections, Ms Riva said the focus for Zero Wasters was creating a space for people interested in living a sustainable life.

“I would like to have more people interested in it,” she said.

“Go in, have a look, if there’s something of interest there, join.” •

For more information, visit the group's Facebook page

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