On the trail of the plastic not so fantastic

On the trail of the plastic not so fantastic

In case you didn’t know, this month is Plastic Free July.  It’s an initiative which started in WA in 2011, and now has 2 million participants from around the world. Plastic Free July is aims to make us more aware of our plastics use, creating a cleaner world for generations to come.

Reasons to reduce our use of plastic are now crystal clear. Our oceans now have  islands of plastic waste and around 100 million marine animals are killed each year from plastic debris. Plastic pollutes our rivers and waterways and takes Pollution pic 01hundreds of years to degrade.

Pretty good reasons to get involved right?. And yet when I initially considered signing up for this challenge, I had this thought, “But I probably can’t go 100% plastic free, so I won’t do it”.  Then my husband said, “C’mon let’s just give it a go”. Yep, he was right, there was nothing to lose and lots to gain by just playing the game (turns out there are different levels of participation too).

Over the last few years our household has been changing one habit at a time, to reduce the amount of plastic and packaging we use. Bulk buying (ie filling up our own containers),  growing our own vegies, buying package-free fresh produce from the farmer’s market and making a lot of our food from scratch. This has reduced our waste, recycling and use of plastics significantly.

And yet, I knew we were still using a lots of plastic.  Once we turned our attention to plastic, it was easy to see just how all-pervasive plastic is in our everyday lives. The exciting part has been noticing the stuff we buy in plastic, and finding alternatives. Here are some examples of what we found.

  • Savoury yeast flakes – I checked with our local health food store and they sell it loose, so now we fill up our container instead of buying it in plastic
  • Coconut yoghurt – we are now making our own from shredded coconut (this has been on our to-do list for a year!)
  • Corn chips – we’ve decided not to buy them anymore (they are not very healthy anyway!)
  • Crackers – we now make our own and they are very yummy
  • Weet Bix – we were adding this to our porridge and home made muesli, and have decided to not eat it anymore

There are some things we still haven’t sorted out – the plastic wrapping from taco shells and the personal care side of things, like toothpaste, moisturiser and hair products. But that’s ok, we are on our own journey, and taking on one thing at a time. There is no competition!

What I really love about this movement, is that you get to choose what you take on, and for how long (1 day, 1 week, all of July or from now on). You can choose from: Plastic Free July

a) Avoiding single-use plastic packaging

b) Target takeaway items (bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups)

c) Go completely plastic-free

I want to say something about this kind of habit-changing challenge. Attitude is everything! If any of this occurs as a burden, or you feel resentful, it is unlikely to work. Your attitude really is the key to success.

Our family is treating this as a game, and we are noticing some benefits.. These are the top ones for us:

  1. We save money! We’re making more food from scratch, and have stopped buying food we don;t really need and this is saving us serious money.
  2. We are eating better – as we make more of our food from scratch we, have the added bonus of eating healthier (ie we choose the ingredients)
  3. We are getting more creative and having fun as a family

This really is so simple! It’s raising awareness of how much plastic we use and encouraging us to change our habits and find alternatives to plastic.

Where ever you are on your journey through life, consider joining movements like this. It’s a great way to get you thinking about how you can change your every day choices to tread lighter on our planet. Every bit counts.


Innovation and commitment win the day

What happens when people who are passionate about making a difference, take on reducing or eliminating waste?

Amazing things happen.

Let’s look at two fantastic Australian examples.

Whilst Tasmanian wine maker Peter Bignell was at the Rootstock sustainable food and wine festival in Sydney last year, he noticed the huge volume of wine being spat out into buckets, destined to be poured down the drain. Appalled at the idea of such waste, he collected all the spat out wine from the event, all 500-litres of it, and took it to a nearby distillery. He has turned these wine spits into a spirit, aptly called “Kissing a Stranger”. Wine 02

Talk about ingenuity – turning spat out wine into a new, valuable alcohol.

In keeping with the Tasmanian connection, the second example of environmental fabulousness is the Panama Music Festival in Star Valley in North East Tasmania.  Have you ever seen the waste generated and often left on the ground after large sporting events or music festivals? The litter can be horrendous.  The organisers of Panama have a different approach.

The event attracts 1400 adults and 200 children, who camp for 2 nights and 3 days. At the end of this event, a scour of the area found only a few items of waste – a biodegradable cup, some bits of a Pokemon card, a Bunnings receipt, and a few other very small bits of waste. In addition, the event processes recycling and compostables on site and patrons are asked to take any of their hard waste with them.camping 02

As you might imagine, this event has many other sustainable practices that reduce waste and GHG emissions. One such thing is the Great Panama Clothes Swap. Punters bring 2 or 3 quality pieces of unwanted clothing to the swap point in the morning, and come back in the afternoon to hunt for some fabulous ‘pre-loved’ clothing to add to their wardrobe.

How far can we take things? Who knows, we have only begun to scratch the surface. When there is a will to make a positive difference to our environment, amazing things happen.

What can you do in your life? It doesn’t have to be big or difficult. Sometimes all it takes is commitment.

Holidays calling

xmas-treeWith the end of the year fast approaching, we would like to thank all the organisations and staff we have worked with this year. Thank you for allowing us to make a difference, for listening, and for your partnership. We are passionate about making a difference, and reducing our impacts on the environment, and we can’t do it without you!

There are so many ways you can reduce your impact on the environment, whilst at the same time, having fun and saving money. This is especially relevant at this time of the year when consumption can tend to get a bit out of control!

Here’s a few to get you thinking:

Don’t over cater your food during the holidays. Think back to last year – did you have way too much food left over that went to waste?  How about saving money and valuable resources by not over catering?

Buy less, make more. Nothing means more to someone than the effort you have gone to making something simple than buying something that may end up only being used once.

Don’t buy gifts at all and focus on spending special time together with the people that really matter in your life because we don’t get enough of that throughout the year.

Buy Christmas presents that are experiences instead of things. Create memories, not waste!

We wish you a peaceful and safe holiday season, and a fantastic 2017.

From the team at Great Forest Australia.


A is for attitude


It took me many years to fully appreciate what my secondary school Principal had meant when he said, “There are three important things in life: attitude, attitude, attitude”.

I think this rings true for everything in life. Without being aware of it, we all have filters, which are like attitudes, shaping our beliefs, our mood, our actions and the conversations we have with others. For example, some people get really annoyed or angry when they see someone else doing the ‘wrong thing’ when it comes to recycling. They say, “What’s the point in me doing my bit and recycling when there are so many others who are not”. Fair point really, but this attitude can not only be disheartening, but completely dis-empowering.

Bring this out to a a bigger picture; climate change.  Depending on which way you look at it, I could be completely overwhelmed by the negative statistics and direction in which we are headed, or choose to look at how I can be part of the movement to reduce our impacts on the environment.

This may be a bit simplistic, but my point is that we are pretty much unaware of how our attitudes are playing out in our lives. And I have some extra good news about this! Once we uncover these attitudes, particularly the attitudes that cause us to be unhappy, stressed, resigned or disillusioned, we can do something about it! Transform it, chuck it away, or create an empowering attitude. After all, an attitude is not the truth, it does not have to stay. It can be moulded, changed or replaced. It really is a choice.

This may lead you to start considering changing what you read or watch. You might like to seek good news stories, or join your community group and start taking actions. Surround yourself with people who are making a difference in what ever field they are passionate about.

The options are endless!


Job Vacancy: Senior Consultant

We are recruiting! We are seeking a passionate Senior Consultant to join our dynamic team, based in South Melbourne.

Details and job description are below and can downloaded as a pdf. Email applications to recycle@greatforest.com.au by 30 March. Applications need to include your CV and a covering letter which addresses the Qualifications and Skills/Experience sections of the PD below.


The key purpose of the Senior Consultant role is to:

  • Design, implement and manage waste and environmental sustainability programs for new and existing clients both locally and nationally
  • Review and manage complex contractor data and reports to ensure compliance and performance levels are being achieved
  • Review and analyse audit data and produce comprehensive reports
  • Manage and maintain effective relationships with key stakeholders through regular engagement
  • Develop proposals for new work including project scope, methodology, timeline, staffing and costing
  • Recruit and train new consultants
  • Promote GFA services and programs to existing clients
  • Develop, maintain and update organisational reports and procedure documents

Key Accountabilities

Project design, implementation and management

  • Develop project plans for new projects including time lines, staffing, and budgets
  • Conduct initial client meetings and site visits for new projects
  • Plan the project’s 12 months projections and targets
  • Coordinate and manage the project from beginning to completion

Auditing & Assessment

  • Organise and coordinate waste and recycling audits, including equipment, access, staffing and budgets
  • Perform physical audits of clients’ waste streams
  • Provide data on and assessments of client and cleaning staff procedures with regard to management of waste and recycling

General Service / Project delivery

  • Write a report detailing current and planned procedures, equipment, and costs and benefits of recommended improvements
  • Work with building management, tenants, cleaning companies, and waste and recycling contractors to achieve effective implementation of recommended improvements
  • Improve the processes and policies in support of the organisation’s mission – specifically, support better reporting, and organisational planning
  • Set service standards to ensure that quality outcomes are delivered
  • Use extensive experience and sound judgment to manage multiple tasks
  • Articulate and focus on balancing key priorities including quality outcomes, staff workloads and financial parameters
  • Create and update organisation’s knowledge database (i.e. market prices, industry developments and technology)

Analysis & Reporting

  • Deliver reporting that summarises asset and contractor performance
  • Conduct regular reviews for major clients of their waste contractor’s monthly reports for accuracy, variances and ensuring validation of data e.g. bin weigh-offs, density

Leadership / Relationship Building

  • Regular stakeholder meetings
  • Supervise and coach other consultants and auditors
  • Manage recruitment processes, interview and employment
  • Develop and maintain good relationships with all clients

Position Requirements


  • Bachelor of Environmental Science or equivalent

Skills / Experience

  • Passion for the environment and for making a difference
  • Communication skills. Experience in leading teams, speaking and presenting to groups and inspiring others through direct, engaging communication. Proven track record in proposal and report writing.
  • Problem solving skills and a practical ‘can do’ approach
  • Attention to detail. This position requires the ability to work through complex data and also to see the bigger picture
  • Management of many competing projects, tasks and deadlines. This position requires a level head and excellent project management skills


  • No. of Direct Reports: 1 Analyst
  • No. of Indirect Reports: 6 Auditors

Key Stakeholders

  • External Stakeholders: Asset Management Teams, Cleaning Contractors, Waste Contractors, Sustainability Managers.