National Recycling Week 9 – 15 November 2015

National Recycling Week 9 – 15 November 2015

Here is a great opportunity for businesses to either re-invigorate existing recycling programs or to introduce new programs with National Recycling Week happening from 9 – 15 November 2015.

National Recycling Week was introduced by PlanetArk in 1996 to bring national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. Now more than ever, this needs to be a focus as our landfills continue to fill to capacity.

National Recycling Week 2015

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We Take It For Granted

When I was living in Melbourne and working at Great Forest, stressing the importance of good waste practices was priority no. 1. Since returning from the UK and moving to my family farm outside of Melbourne, I’ve learned just how easily waste is taken for granted.

When living or working in the city it’s easy to not think about waste. While waste is associated with almost everything we consume, our home or workplace has a system in place to sort and remove it for us. It never becomes a problem for us, so we always take it for granted. We really should know about waste, to neglect it is expensive and it damages our environment.

The community I belong to, the towns of postcode 3551, are without this luxury and instead live in the world of transfer stations and tip runs. When I moved here there was a waste system in place, but it’s a crude one managed by my Dad and now, me. We have six 240 litre bins, which we’ve accumulated through attending clearing sales. We also have a couple of trailers for hard rubbish and metal waste.

However, our bins aren’t labelled or even colour coded and some don’t even have wheels – a real nuisance for a 240 litre bin when it’s  filled with glass (as it regularly is). Only recently have we had a ute capable of holding all six bins at one time – I’m puzzled to think how Dad was dealing with them all before that. Or more likely, he wasn’t, certainly not well or with any great efficiency. Even with the ute, it’s a pain but it’s manageable, with 2 people and a bit of hard work.

Our local council is currently rethinking and changing the way the postcode of 3551 deals with waste. This has been met with some resistance. Our local transfer stations are now being staffed and as a result, the opening hours have shortened and there is a cost for disposing landfill waste. This cost, we’re told, is covered because we don’t pay for kerbside collection in our rates, which is true but unlike kerbside collection, a bin run for us is quite a bit of work.

Because of my experience and my values, I had already attempted to set-up good waste systems and practices on the farm. Unfortunately the tip has not been  set up quite as well resulting in contamination and the dumping of rubbish. Not all has been lost as this has forced the Council to act, resulting in the new fees and rules to support good waste management practices. So now, when personally faced with a cost for landfill waste and no charge for recycling, our farm and the rest of the community need good waste practices operating today.

So with this, my learning and experience at Great Forest comes back into play and in the coming weeks we will be vastly improving our waste management systems. Both my shack and the house are well organised to sort recycling and landfill. All organic waste goes straight to the chooks so there’s no issue there.

Our focus is to avoid contamination of bins in public areas, mainly our cellar door and working areas. This, like any home or workplace, requires an effective bin system, with signage and education for contractors (who are the current contaminators). On top of that, especially now that it’s getting warmer, we have to organise and commit to a schedule that stops the farm smelling like the transfer station we take our waste to.

Without being close to and paying to remove waste yourself, it’s hard to understand and design a waste system. I’ve learnt this when I started at Great Forest and I’m learning it again now. This is definitely part of the reason that our public bins are the most contaminated. Education about waste, recognising the costs and developing good systems are what’s needed to bridge the gap between what we take for granted and what we should do. Thankfully for me and our clients, it’s something that we at Great Forest do really well.

The Time is Now

earth 02

“We are the last generation that can fight climate change. We have a duty to act”

– United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon 12 Jan 2015

What are you going to make 2015 about? Working less? Making more money? Going on a big holiday? Buying that new car? Spending more time with family? Getting fit? All of these are valid, but we invite you to take on a different challenge. Reduce your personal impact on the environment. 

Not because you ‘should’, but because you choose to.

The options are limitless. Choose some ways that you will tread lighter on our planet. Ways that you are interested in, ways that light you up or inspire you.  As an added bonus, you will most likely save money at the same time.

Once you have mastered your new ‘ways’ to tread lighter and they are just part of who you are, up the anti and take on some more. Here are a few to get you thinking:

  • Buy less. Ask yourself “Do I really need this”? If you do, buy second hand, or borrow.
  • Drive your car less. Ride your bike, car pool, walk or take public transport
  • Go ‘disposable free’. Stop using disposable coffee cups, single use water bottles, plastic bags, take away containers, plastic plates and cutlery etc. There are some great alternatives.
  • Inspire others – by taking action and sharing your experiences with others, you will inspire other people to follow suit.

Our family is taking on driving our car less. We are going to create a maximum number of km’s traveled for 2015, which is 15% less than 2014.  This means riding our bikes more (we are 7km from our nearest town/shops/school), and taking the train more often (for social trips to Melbourne, we already take the train to work).

There is no time like now.

That Spring Feeling

Council hard waste pick up courtesy Monash Council

With Spring in the air, the warmer weather has arrived, and you might have noticed that familiar feeling….that feeling of wanting to clean up, clean out, re-organise and de-clutter.

Spring Cleaning is a great way to get yourself out of hibernation, freshen things up, increase or start some exercise, plant some vegies or trees/plants, and get outside to appreciate our amazing environment.

Here are our top tips for reducing your impact on the environment and saving money this Spring.

  1. When cleaning out your room, house, cupboard, wardrobe or garage, consider what can be given away, sold, recycled, re-purposed or donated. Keep waste to landfill to a minimum. A word about hard rubbish collections. You will need to check with your Council to see whether any of the hard rubbish you leave out is recycled, reused or re-purposed. You may be surprised that most if not all it, ends up in landfill.
  2. When cleaning, consider using elbow grease, microfibre cloths and water instead of chemicals.
  3. After you have cleaned up, cleaned out and re-organised, don’t be tempted to buy more stuff to put in its place! Ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ before purchasing.
  4. If you do need to buy something, consider buying it second hand, borrowing it from someone or sharing it with your neighbour/friend/family.

Here are some links to get you thinking….
5 ways to clean your house safely
Spring cleaning your wardrobe

There are so many ways to share, give, receive and swap. Freecycle, Ziilch, TuShare, Oz Recycle, GoGet, FlexiCar and Gumtree to name but a few.

For World Environment Day we thought we would share this great documentary on waste made by the good people over at The Sustainable Table. It focuses on the incidental waste – mostly soft plastic – that we produce and use on a daily basis. It discusses the impact that this material is having on the environment and how it is hindering our efforts towards sustainability. We thought it was fitting to use World Environment Day as the opportunity to share this with everyone.

For those that are interested, The Sustainable Table have a lot of great content on food, including a recipe book full of facts, advice and plenty of meat and meat-free recipes.

Is change as good as a holiday?

It’s been an interesting year at Great Forest Australia and predominantly a year that has been filled with change.

Office1-940x704We have also launched our new website and created a new video.  Jacqui Bender is a consultant and auditor at Great Forest Australia and one of her many other talents lies in film-making. Along with her brother at Benderfilm, Jacqui has produced a fantastic 4 minute video showing the behind the scenes action of our work. Benderfilm have also helped design our new website.  Our intention was to make it easier to navigate and more up to date. What do you think?

With all this change, this year has been challenging.  Things have not always gone to plan, and contrary to the old saying, change is not always as good as a holiday!

To all our clients and the thousands of staff we work with in our programs, we thank you for your support, involvement and commitment this year. We look forward to working with you and making a difference to the environment in 2014, and if you are having a break from work over the festive season, we trust you return relaxed and revived.

Director Peter Hosking was interviewed as part of the RRR program, Room With A View in September 2013.