Issue 77
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Welcome to Sustainable Wollongong Issue 77

It's time for the festive season! Lets make this Christmas a sustainable one, with reusable items, recipes for leftovers, minimal plastic waste and fresh produce from your garden or the local farmer's market.

Enjoy the holiday season and stay safe!

This month's newsletter includes the following articles:

  • Grow Local: Soils
  • World Soil Day
  • Wollongong Waste App Available to Download
  • Urban Greening Update
  • 'Tis the Season to be Sustainable
  • Get Christmas All Wrapped Up!
  • Give Your Old Toys a Second Life
  • Save the Date for Community Collections of Garden Organics and Cardboard
  • The Magical Talking Tree - Helping to Green our Suburbs
  • Coffee Consumption in Lockdown
  • Sustainable Seafood at Christmas
  • Did You Know? Mobile Muster
  • Threatened Species Profile: Koala

Feel free to forward this newsletter on to interested friends and family.

If you would like to make any comments or suggestions please contact us at

What's On Sustainable Wollongong - activities from backyard chook keeping workshops to cooking classes, bushwalks and education activities

Click here for Calendar of Events

Grow Local

In light of World Soil Day, we are going to talk about soils and how important it is to make sure they are healthy and full of life in order to support the growth of your veggies!

Soils are living ecosystems that are teeming with life, with this largely invisible to the naked eye. Soil biodiversity includes animals such as frogs, worms, mites and bacteria, which all play an essential role in maintaining healthy and productive soils. These creatures help to recycle plant and other organic material, creating nutrient rich plant food such as humus. Humus helps to hold nutrients and water like a sponge. Healthy soils have a high level of organic matter, allowing water, plant roots and oxygen to enter the soil with ease.

If you would like to improve the quality of your soils for better plant-growing, you can read about soil building to expand your soil improvement techniques, attend compost and worm farming workshops, make compost tea, and do simple soil tests. Adding organic matter such as well-aged animal manure, compost or worm castings, using natural liquid fertilisers such as liquid seaweed or worm juice, and covering your soils with mulch will all help to improve the condition of your soils.

Healthy soils = healthy plants!

Harvest Now
FRUIT: Apricot, Avocado, Babaco, Banana, Black Sapote, Cherimoya, Cherry of Rio Grande, Fig, Lemon, Lychee, Orange, Panama Berry, Paw Paw, Peach/Nectarine, Plum, Sapodilla, Small-leaf Tamarind, Atherton Raspberry, Blueberry, Brazilian Cherry, Grumichama, Strawberry, Passionfruit.

VEGETABLES: Garlic, Leek, Onion, Shallots, Beetroot, Silverbeet, Carrot, Celery, Radish, Rocket, Cucumber, Squash, Zucchini, Green bean, Capsicum, Chilli, Eggplant, Potato, Tomato, Corn, Lettuce, Sweet Potato, Warrigal Greens.

HERBS: Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Chives, Ginger, Mint, Lemongrass, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
Plant Now
VEGETABLES: Carrot, Radish, Rocket, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini, Green Bean, Capsicum, Chilli, Eggplant, Tomato, Corn, Lettuce, Sweet Potato, Warrigal Greens.

HERBS: Basil, Ginger.
Fertilise Now
FRUIT: Mango.
Prune Now
FRUIT: Apricot, Avocado, Plum

World Soil Day

World Soil Day was on Sunday 5th December, with this day focusing on the importance of healthy soils and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources.

This year’s theme is ‘Halt soil salinisation, boost soil productivity’, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinisation, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

Salts are naturally present in soils and water and help to support rich ecosystems. But when excess amounts are added to the system, it causes major soil degradation and breaks down our soils, severely impacting on soil functions such as buffering and filtering pollutants, the ability of crops to take up water and the availability of micronutrients, affecting agricultural productivity, water quality and soil biodiversity. This process is known as salinisation and is caused by factors such as droughts and human activities such as improper irrigation.

Soil salinisation causes an estimated annual loss in agricultural productivity of US$31 million and takes up to 1.5 million hectares of farmland per year from production, with an estimated 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils worldwide, which is equal to around 8.7% of the planet.

For more information, visit the United Nation’s website and the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s website.

Wollongong Waste App Available to Download

Download the Wollongong Waste App and never miss a bin collection again. The app provides residents with quick, easy and up-to-date access to Council’s recycling and waste services.

Designed specifically for Wollongong residents, features include:
  • a personalised bin collection calendar
  • weekly reminder texts
  • reporting avenue for illegal dumping
  • an A-Z guide of Waste and Recycling
  • booking a household clean-up
  • booking bin repairs and much more.
You can also find in-depth information on which of the three (green, yellow and red-lidded) household bins to use, and details on what’s accepted at the Community Recycling Centre at Kembla Grange.

The app provides the latest information on recycling and reduces the need for a brochure that quickly goes out of date. Although printed information will continue to be available, the app encourages the use of digital resources to help minimise our printed footprint and make Wollongong a more sustainable community.

Residents can download the app by simply searching for ‘Wollongong Waste’ from the App Store for Apple devices or Google Play for Android devices.

To learn more about the Wollongong Waste App visit our Wollongong Waste website or contact the Remondis Harbour Cities Team on 1300 362 360.

Urban Greening Update

Tree planting is one of the simplest and effective ways of tackling climate change. Trees are the lungs of the planet and our carbon banks – they exhale oxygen and inhale and absorb CO2 as they grow (the exact opposite of humans) to help slow the rate of global warming. The bigger the tree, the bigger the benefit.

Here’s how we’ve progressed this year:
  • Total trees planted this financial year (July 2020-June 2021): 1,705*
  • Trees planted this calendar year (Jan-Sep 2021): 1259
  • Over a three year period the Urban Greening Strategy gave a commitment to complete shade tree planting in 55 playgrounds by end of June 2021. A total of 309 trees were planted at 60 playgrounds throughout the LGA.
*30% of these were planted in Dapto and surrounds, from a campaign targeting a low canopy suburb.

'Tis the Season to be Sustainable!

The holiday season is a time full of spending, food and waste, with sustainability largely put on the wayside. But being sustainable at this time of year doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun! There are a number of alternatives you can swap to that are much more friendly for the environment and can potentially save you money too.

Some questions you should ask yourself when it comes to your purchases, resource use and disposal during the festive season are:
  • What is the product made of?
  • How long will it last?
  • Do I or the person receiving the gift really need this?
  • Will I use this once the festive season is over?
  • Do I know how to dispose of this correctly?
  • Use a potted tree instead of a plastic one that you can have for years to come
  • Avoid plastic decorations, instead use those made from natural materials or make your own
  • Use LED decorative lights which will save on power consumption
Environmentally-friendly feasting
  • Reduce your food waste: only buy what you need, use leftovers up in an inventive recipe or freeze them, and compost or FOGO any food waste
  • Use bees wax wraps rather than plastic to keep leftovers fresh
  • Avoid disposable dinnerware: use washable options and reusable cloth napkins
  • Avoid single-use plastic bags, cups, bottles, straws etc.
  • Shop local to support businesses in your area and to reduce emissions associated with your products
  • Buy in season
  • Eat produce from your own garden
  • Look for sustainable seafood options
Thoughtful gift-giving
  • Quality over quantity: it is better to give and receive gifts that are really what you want and will be used for a long time
  • Consider making a donation on behalf of someone or giving them the gift of an experience rather than physical items
  • Avoid gifts that are made from plastic, choose gifts made from raw, organic or natural materials  
  • Homemade gifts such as candles, jams and home baked goods
  • Assess the material and amount of packaging used on products, avoid plastic as much as possible
  • Use paper (not plastic coated wrapping paper) or fabric to wrap presents. Even better if you can reuse these!
  • Hold off on the cards, instead send an e-card
  • Do a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa so you give one person a gift rather than multiple people
  • Check gifts for energy efficiency or environmentally friendly ratings
It’s important that we don’t overlook the impact our holiday fun and traditions have on the planet. Keeping the environment in mind during the festive season doesn't mean foregoing festive celebrations, they can go hand in hand! 

For more tips and tricks on how to make your festive season more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, visit Sustainability Victoria's website on Sustainable Christmas here.

Get Christmas All Wrapped Up!

It’s that time of year where we cook away like we are feeding a thousand guests, buy so many presents and turn our lives upside down in the attempt to make everyone have a Merry Christmas. The wastage is huge, food waste, wrapping paper and packaging. What if you could make a couple of changes that would become positive talking points at the Christmas table?

Things like bees wax wraps to cover your left overs in the fridge and wrapping presents the Japanese way with cloth (sarongs, tea towels and even sheets)? These few changes would all lead toward the environment having a happier Christmas. Your presents would stand out, look gorgeous and the cloth is reusable. On top of all that, you could make your own wrapping paper! OK, maybe that’s taking it too far, but one thing we’ve have learnt from lockdown is the importance of taking time to appreciate what is around us and  sharing time with friends.

Council's Green Team are running a workshop in Wollongong Library Learning Lab where we will demonstrate: 

🎄making bees wax wraps
🎄making your own wrapping paper (It looks awesome and is easy!)
🎄making your own baking paper for your Christmas cake just like Grandma!     
🎄The art of Furoshiki

Each participant that is booked in and attends the workshop will receive a free 🎁 bees wax wrap. Now that’s got to get your Christmas plans buzzing!

When: 11/12/21
Where: Wollongong Library Upstairs in the Learning Lab
Time: 9:30am-11:30am

Give Your Old Toys a Second Life

It’s not easy parting with unwanted toys, especially those which have been very loved and are now broken or just worn out. Toys are one of those items that may excite a child for a short while but as children’s interest changes, the toy is pushed to the bottom of the toy box. These toys are usually in good working order but just unwanted.

The toy industry is the most plastic-intensive industry in the world, with 90% of the toys on the market being made of plastic.* 

Christmas is just around the corner and will bring an array of new shiny toys resulting in toy boxes heaving with the contents within. There are a number of options that people can consider if needing to declutter and make room for new additions.

  • If in reusable condition sell or giveaway online or donate to a charity op shop. For more reuse ideas visit
  • Pass on to younger children of friends or family members.
  • Consider donating to an animal shelter, if suitable.
  • Toy Libraries do accept high quality, unbroken and complete toys. No soft toys accepted. A toy library allows people to become a member and to then borrow toys and return them just like they would a library book. There are currently no Toy libraries in the Illawarra but a few across the Sydney region if you’re interested in donating.
  • If bikes in reusable condition drop off to Revolve Centre, Kembla Grange.**
RECYCLE option
  • Terracycle and BIG W have partnered to create a recycling program, Toys for Joy. This is a free recycling program for all brands of pre-loved toys. If they are not fit for re-homing, you can now drop them off at selected BIG W stores across Australia to be recycled. The closest BIG W participating in this program is Campbelltown at present. Please check their website as to what toys they can and can’t accept for dropping off if you’re keen to take up this option.
Alternatively, place in the red lidded waste to landfill bin.  Old toys are not suitable to be placed in the residential yellow top recycling bins.

*UNEP report 2014 ‘Valuing plastics’.
** Acceptance of items to Revolve Centre up to staff discretion.

Save the Date For Community Collections of Garden Organics and Cardboard

As part of Wollongong City Council’s sustainability focus we’re offering additional free community green waste and cardboard drop off opportunities for our community.

The free green waste drop-off provides an alternative to your household green-lidded FOGO bin to dispose of small branches and shrubs, fallen leaves, twigs and debris from around their properties ahead of Christmas and the peak summer bushfire season.

Christmas comes with lots of cardboard, and we know yellow-lidded recycling bins will be filled faster than usual. To help relieve the strain, we’re providing free carboard collections at selected locations in the days after Christmas.  A good way to ensure the cardboard doesn’t get jammed in the bin is to flatten it and also tear up into smaller pieces.

Keep in mind our Community Recycling Centre (CRC) at Kembla Grange is open 7 days and accepts all excess household recyclables including cardboard and paper. 
The CRC is the ideal destination for household problem waste also such as batteries, gas bottles, e-waste, x-rays, paints and more.

On collection days, residents are asked to drive into the car park and queue in their vehicles until reaching Remondis staff who will unload their vehicles.

All of our collection events will be contactless drop-offs requiring a QR code check-in. Please ensure to follow the Public Health Order when at our drop off locations and stay home and get tested if you’re feeling unwell.

For further information on the events please visit our Waste page.

Green Waste Drop off Events

Date Time Location
Sunday 5 December 8.00am to 12.00pm Rex Jackson Oval, Walker Street, Helensburgh
Sunday 12 December 8.00am to 12.00pm Ziems Park, Short Street, Corrimal
Saturday 18 December 8.00am to 12.00pm Purry Burry Reserve, Bundah Place, Primbee

Cardboard Drop off Events
Date Time Location
Wednesday 29 December 8.00am to 1.30pm Ocean Park, Campbell Street, Woonona
Thursday 30 December 8.00am to 12.00pm Snake Pit Stadium, enter via Gipps Street, Gwynneville
Friday 31 December 8.00am to 12.00pm

King George V Oval, enter via Military Road, Port Kembla

The Magical Talking Tree - Helping to Green Our Suburbs

Wollongong Botanic Garden will resume their School Holiday Program in 2022 with the Magical Talking Tree Show on daily 17 to 21 January (bookings essential).

The aim is to share the benefits and importance of trees in greening our suburbs, increasing canopy cover, supporting wildlife, and their impact on dealing with the negative effects of climate change.

Research in 2021 revealed that 87% of Wollongong residents aspire to live in lush, leafy neighbourhoods with shaded streets and parks. Residents also want Wollongong City Council (WCC) to support the community to grow trees and green their properties. They want to see more trees planted in public spaces and residential areas. In addition, over 80% of people agree planting trees in our streets will cool neighbourhoods and protect kids and older people from the impacts of extreme heat.

In response to these community desires this Talking Tree Show will invite children and their families into the magical world of talking trees and bungling flowerpot heroes as they discover the benefits to humans of planting trees for shade, cooling and purifying the air, and in providing the oxygen we breathe. As the families take part in this interactive show, they will discover that trees also improve our mental wellbeing and provide us with a sense of place as we enjoy the great outdoors in summer.

After the show, The Talking Tree will invite families to meet Captain Cool Koala and take part in a short Koala Trees Treasure Hunt. These iconic native animals are victims of a changing climate as we lose trees, whole forests even, to bushfires and extreme weather conditions including severe droughts and heatwaves. Planting and maintaining our trees and forests will help koalas cope with the changing climate. To reinforce these important messages children and their families will be given the opportunity to plant small koala trees to take home for their own gardens and help green our suburbs.

The final opportunity of the day is for parents and children to wind down and take part in the Garden’s self-guided Go Slow for a Mo’ Nature Wellness Trail. This inspiring journey to the rainforest and beyond will help them get in touch with nature and experience the beneficial effects of 35-40% tree canopy cover the Botanic Garden already has on a hot summer day - which is the target average tree canopy cover goal for the entire city through Council’s Urban Greening Program.

Coffee Consumption in Lockdown

With a lot of people working from home, the sales of coffee capsules and pods have skyrocketed. Capsules and pods are the largest segment in roast and ground coffee and are the fastest growing segment in coffee, growing by over 40 per cent. 13,500 capsule coffees are consumed every minute worldwide.* The vast majority of these cannot be recycled.

In Australia, 3 million coffee pods head to landfill every day. When these capsules and pods are thrown out, they take over 500 years to break down, leaving microplastics in our world forever.

The great news is that there are now environmentally friendly options to enjoying your morning capsule coffee - reusable stainless-steel pods. You can choose your own coffee beans and even grind them yourself for that glorious freshly ground coffee brew. Simply discard your used coffee grounds into your home compost or FOGO bin, rinse and refill with ground coffee. These sustainable coffee pods would make a great Christmas gift for your coffee loving family, friends or workmates and are available to purchase online. 

If you’re out and about and craving your favourite cafés coffee hit, make sure you take along your reusable coffee mug. Many disposable coffee cups may look like they are made of paper, but they contain a plastic lining. Even though the paper may degrade and become inert, the plastic will hang around for ever. This broken down plastic can eventually enter our waterways and oceans, creating serious damage to our oceans and marine creatures.

Disposable coffee cups are estimated to be the second-largest contributor to litter waste, after plastic bottles. Around 1 billion disposable coffee cups are used in Australia each year.*

By using reusable coffee pods at home, and always ensuring you have your reusable coffee mug with you for any takeaway coffees, you can enjoy your brew and feel good about helping our environment.


Sustainable Seafood at Christmas

Seafood is a popular choice at a festive feast; from fresh prawns to delicious salmon, fresh seafood is a classic on the Christmas table. But do you know how sustainable your seafood really is?

It is important to make sure that your seafood is sourced as sustainably as possible. With a growing demand for seafood, it is essential that we know where and how our seafood has been sourced. By buying seafood sustainably, you will help to ensure that our oceans stay healthy for years to come.

For guides on sustainable seafood and restaurants that serve sustainable seafood, visit the Good Fish website here. You can also download it as an app.

For more information, visit the Australian Marine Conservation Society on sustainable seafood choices and WWF's website on how to choose sustainable seafood at Christmas time.

Did You Know?

Did you know, Australian households contain more than 20 million unwanted mobile phones? Have you got old mobile phones lying around your house collecting dust? There is a program called Mobile Muster which collects unwanted mobile phones and recycles them, saving them from ending up in landfill.

All of Wollongong City Council libraries are Mobile Muster drop off points. You can also drop mobiles at the Community Recycling Centre at Kembla Grange.

For more information, visit the Mobile Muster website here and Council’s website here. Visit Council’s website for library locations here.

Threatened Species Profile

Common Name: Koala
Scientific Name: Phascolarctos cinereus

The Koala is considered as Vulnerable in NSW and also by the Australian Government. It is an arboreal marsupial, with arboreal meaning that it lives and moves about in trees. They have grey fur, which ranges from brown to white underneath, and have large furry ears and a black nose.

They also have long sharp claws which allow them to climb. Adult males weigh between 6 to 12kgs and females between 5 to 8kgs.

This species is found throughout eastern Australia, with a fragmented distribution ranging from north east Queensland to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. In NSW, koala populations are found on the central and north coasts, southern highlands, southern and northern tablelands, Blue Mountains, southern coastal forests and with some smaller populations on the plains west of the Great Dividing Range. They are found in Eucalypt woodlands and forests, as these trees are their main food source. The size of their home ranges can vary between less than two hectares to several hundred hectares, depending on the quality of habitat.

The Koala is quite a sedentary and solitary animal, spending most of its time in trees, relatively inactive during the day. They mostly feed and move around at night, descending to move between trees. They feed on more than 70 Eucalypt species and 30 non-Eucalypt species but do have preferred species that they browse on. Although mostly solitary, Koalas have complex social hierarchies with a dominant male whose territory overlaps with several females, and subordinate males on the outskirts. During breeding, males advertise with loud snarling coughs and bellows, and females produce one young per year.

Koalas face a number of threats, including:
  • Loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat
  • Collisions with vehicles
  • Predation by dogs
  • Heat stress from drought and heatwaves
  • Fires that scorch or burn the tree canopy
  • Poor understanding of sources of mortality, population distribution, animal movements and use of habitat
  • Climate change
  • Koala disease
  • Inadequate support for fauna rehabilitation

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