Issue 73
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Welcome to Sustainable Wollongong Issue 73

This month we are celebrating two great environmental events in Australia - National Tree Day and Keep Australia Beautiful Week. Although many of us are experiencing stay at home orders and face-to-face activities are not occurring, we can still show our appreciation for the essential ecosystem services trees provide us and the beauty of the place we are lucky to call home. Read on below to see how you can get involved. 

We hope everyone is staying safe and following social distancing and hygiene practices in order to protect ourselves and others in the community during this time.

This months' newsletter features the following articles:

  • Grow Local - Winter Gardening
  • Big Fans of New Council Renewable Energy Approach
  • National Tree Day
  • Keep Australia Beautiful Week
  • FOGO Each Day to Help Keep Extinction at Bay
  • Keeping Chickens
  • How Your Nappy Choice Can Save a Pine Tree 25 Metres Tall
  • Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database
  • NSW Government Saving Our Species: Conservation From Your Couch - Seven Ways to Help Animals From Home
  • Sustainable Fashion - Repairing Your Clothes
  • Did You Know? How To Care For Your Beeswax Wraps
  • Threatened Species Profile: Lesser Sand Plover

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

Winter Gardening

The cooler months can make it less motivating to get outside and tend to our gardens, but it's important that we make sure we are getting some quality outdoor time and fresh air. This is the perfect time to soak up the warm winter sun, get your hands dirty and harvest the vegetable and fruit goodies that may have grown in your garden.

Here in the Illawarra, we are lucky to have a climate that is perfect for growing food all year round, with our mild coastal climate, high rainfall, and lack of extreme seasonal variation. But within the Illawarra there are microclimates, where temperature, sunlight availability and winds vary.

Areas located on the open coastal plain will experience more mild temperatures and stronger winds, while those located in the foothills of the escarpment lose the afternoon sun earlier in the day and therefore can be cooler. Low lying areas such as Albion Park can experience light winter frosts. In the winter and early spring from June to September there are often also strong westerly winds that can gust to over 100km/h and cause damage to gardens, buildings and infrastructure. So make sure your plants are well-supported!

As many of us are experiencing lockdown, this is a prime opportunity for us to get out into our gardens. Check out Gardening Australia’s factsheet 'Growing in Lockdown' for some lockdown gardening inspiration.

For more information, read our Grow Local Illawarra Edible Garden Guide and Grow Local Illawarra Natives Guide.

Harvest Now
FRUIT: Avocado, Babaco, Banana, Carambola, Cherry of Rio Grande, Custard Apple, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Macadamia, Mandarin, Mulberry, Orange, Atherton Raspberry, Blueberry, Brazilian Cherry, Coffee.

VEGETABLES: Leek, Shallots, Beetroot, Silverbeet, Parsnip, Brussel Sprouts, Radish, Rocket, Broad Bean, Pea, Tomato, Lettuce.

HERBS: Dill, Chives, Ginger, Mint, Lemongrass, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
Plant Now
VEGETABLES: Garlic, Spinach, Carrot, Celery, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish, Rocket, Pea, Potato, Tomato, Asparagus, Lettuce.

HERBS: Dill, Parsley.

Big Fans of New Council Renewable Energy Approach

We’re taking the next step towards meeting our target of net zero emissions by 2030 for Council operations. Council decided to participate in a joint tender for a large-scale, renewable generation power purchase agreement (PPA). This type of agreement is important because it will lead to a reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions of almost 15,000 tonnes of CO2-e per annum.

This energy will be used for Council services and operations such as streetlights, and our largest energy consumption sites, such as leisure centres, pools, community centres and libraries.

We know our focus on greener energy options is important to our community. Improving our environmental sustainability is a key goal in our community-led strategic plan Wollongong 2028, and was an outcome outlined in Council’s Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2020.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that signing on to the agreement is a great opportunity for Council to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

“A renewable energy PPA is where a buyer, such as Council, purchases renewable energy from either a retailer or energy generator for a specified price rate and timeframe, usually 8-12 years,” Cr Bradbery said.

“These types of arrangement usually last for longer periods of time as this provides the electricity supplier with a level of certainty so that they can fund the construction of renewable energy infrastructure to meet the energy needs of the buyer.”

PPAs can work in different ways depending on the type of agreement and this means that energy can be purchased from a combination of different types of renewable sources such as solar farms, wind farms and hydroelectricity.

Council will join with other participating NSW councils in putting out a tender through Procurement Australia for this large-scale renewable generation power purchase agreement.

The arrangement will help Council work towards achieving adopted targets of net zero emissions by 2050 for the City of Wollongong and net zero emissions by 2030 for Council operations.

“This approach has many benefits beyond just the obvious ones for our environment. Renewable PPAs can often be a more cost-effective energy option. It’s a real win for Council as it means that we will be reducing our environmental footprint while also using our community’s money wisely,” Cr Bradbery said.

See the Climate Change page of Council’s website to learn more about what Council is doing to create a more sustainable Wollongong.

National Tree Day 1st August

It was National Tree Day this past Sunday 1st August. We have much to thank trees for, they provide several ecosystem services that support us and many other organisms every day, such as improving air quality, keeping our cities cool, providing shade, are good for our health and well-being, and provide habitat for many native animals.

Although many of us are not able to join social events to celebrate this day, we can admire trees outside when out for a walk or run, plant a tree in our gardens at home and share what trees mean to us virtually! 

National Tree Day started in 1996 and has become Australia’s largest community tree planting and nature care event. Since then around 26 million trees have been planted, 5 million volunteers have participated and 10 million hours of time have been donated, with around 300,000 people volunteering their time each year.

For more information, visit the National Tree Day website.

Keep Australia Beautiful Week 16th-22nd

Pledge to Ditch Plastic

Keep Australia Beautiful Week is on this month from Monday 16th to Friday 22nd August. This day raises awareness about all the simple things we can all do in our daily lives to reduce our impact on the environment.

The theme this year is Pledge to Ditch Plastic, with a 7-day Plastic Challenge. Plastic that ends up in nature can take up to 500 years to decompose and can harm animals through entanglement and ingestion.

Make the pledge to ditch one plastic item for Keep Australia Beautiful Week! You could do away with items such as takeaway coffee cups, takeaway packaging, single-use cutlery, plastic bottles, packaged fruit and veggies, disposable face masks and plenty of others, and swap these for reusable options.

The Keep Australia Beautiful organisation was founded in 1968 and was the nation’s first sustainable and anti-litter campaign.

Visit the Keep Australia Beautiful Week website for more information.

FOGO Each Day to Help Keep Extinction at Bay

FOGO has been rolling out across our area and some people have asked if FOGO is actually beneficial. To begin with, we need to understand about a few nasty gases that FOGO helps to reduce.

Methane is a greenhouse gas which can affect the earth's temperature. This comes about when food waste and plant material that go to landfill are decomposed by bacteria that live in conditions with no air. These bacteria let off a gas called methane. Methane is a gas that heats up our planet 21 times faster than carbon.

The good news is, if food scraps and garden waste are composted correctly, methane and carbon are not released into the atmosphere.

Organic material that is high in Nitrogen, such as food scraps and grass clippings, under wet anerobic conditions (such as landfill), can produce Nitrous Oxide during decomposition. Nitrous Oxide is roughly 300 times worse than carbon dioxide as it traps 300 times more heat near the Earth's surface. It also takes 120 years to breakdown in the atmosphere. By placing your food scraps in your FOGO bucket and then your green waste bin, food scraps and grass clippings are not going to landfill. They are being composted instead. 

We know that diverting food scraps and garden waste from landfill helps reduce green house gas. So how does this actually benefit living creatures in our environment?

Here are some animals that you may know and each of them will benefit from you helping to slow the warming gases getting trapped in our atmosphere.
  • Fairy Wrens, being studied in Canberra Botanic Gardens are changing their breeding cycle to later in the season due to warmer temperatures. This means that they have a smaller window to breed and less eggs are fertile.
  • The Australian Green Sea Turtles eggs are sex determined by the temperature of the sand they are laid in. Girls develop if the sand is above 31 degrees Celsius and boys if the temp is below 27.7 degrees. Already on Ingram Island, one of the largest sea turtle rookeries in the Pacific Ocean, female sea turtles outnumber males by 116 to 1.
  • The short beaked Echidna prefers to forage at night when temperatures are less then 30 degrees Celsius. They need to consume approximately 40,000 ants a night and these can’t be all from the same nest, so there is a bit of foraging involved. The warmer night temperatures however are meaning the Echidnas are preferring to hide in their cool burrow and go without food.
  • Rising atmospheric Carbon will reduce the nutritional quality of Eucalyptus leaves. This means animals that forage on these leaves, such as Koalas and Greater Gliders, will have a nutrient shortage. Brushtail possums, ringtail possums and many wallabies also rely on Eucalypt leaves as a major part of their diet. As a result, these animals may not be able to meet their nutritional demands, resulting in malnutrition and starvation.
By using your FOGO bucket correctly, all of your food scraps are being diverted from landfill. They are being composted correctly, reducing the amount of Greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere. Your small action really is helping in a big way.

Photo Credit: Illawarra Birders 

A Landfill is an Ecosystem unto Itself: a Treatise on the Organisms that call Landfills Home | The Yawning Chasm
Composting to avoid methane production | Agriculture and Food
Echidnas Have a Nose for Ecological Engineering | Australasian Science Magazine
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change | ANU College of Science
Koalas under threat as excess CO2 makes eucalyptus leaves inedible - NZ Herald
Microsoft Word - ghg and composting--a primer for composters-final 12-3-08 (
99% of Australian Green Sea Turtles Studied Turning Female From Climate Change (

Keeping Chickens 

Keeping chickens is a great way to maintain a supply of fresh eggs, recycle your food scraps and help control garden weeds. In New South Wales, it is legal to keep chickens in your backyard but there are restrictions on how many chickens you can keep and how you can house them.

So how many chickens can you keep?

Well, under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, no more than 10 chickens can be kept in large lot residential properties zoned R5, and only 5 chickens if it is a smaller lot.
By law, your chicken coop or poultry house must be:
  • Limited to a floor area of 15m2
  • A maximum height of 3m above ground level (existing)
  • Located in the rear yard
  • Limited to one per property
  • Located a distance of 3m from each boundary lot
  • Located at least 4.5m from any dwelling, public hall, school or premises used for the manufacture, preparation, sale or storage of food
  • Made of materials that blend with the environment and are non-reflective
  • If in a bushfire zone it must be made of non-combustible materials.
  • Adequately drained
  • Enclosed to prevent poultry from escaping
  • Kept clean and free from offensive odours at all times.
Keeping chickens really is so rewarding. Remember when deciding how many chickens you need, some breeds of chooks can lay an egg almost every day, so think about how may eggs your household will actually use. Also, before getting chickens, consider who will look after them if you were to go on holidays.

Wollongong Council’s Green Team does run workshops on keeping chickens. If you are interested in attending a workshop email
Related Information

How Your Nappy Choice Can Save a Pine Tree 25 Metres Tall

Would you like to help save this tree? You can, if you choose to use re-usable cloth nappies! While disposable nappies may seem more convenient than cloth nappies, their environmental consumes around 140 kgs of wood pulp, 25 kgs of petroleum products and 10 kgs of chlorine!*

When comparing disposable nappies against cloth nappies, disposables produce 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials. 

Chlorine is often used to bleach the paper liners and wood pulp in nappies, and this process can leave traces of a toxic chemical called Dioxin in the nappy. Companies often dispose of this toxin into the environment during the bleaching process in manufacturing, massively implicating the environment as the carcinogenic cells are released, causing health problems in both people and the environment.

In Australia there are about 800 million nappies going to landfill each year. These nappies take around 400 years to break down, with the plastic components of nappies breaking up into micro-plastics which will be around forever.

Making the switch to modern cloth nappies has never been easier. Modern cloth nappies are designed to fit well, are highly absorbent and washing them is much easier than most people think. They’ll save you thousands of dollars, and these savings increase with every child because cloth nappies can be used over and over.

Cloth nappies have the added benefit of being able to reduce plastic and harmful chemicals around baby and our environment.

So go on, make the switch and give modern cloth nappies a go. 

Wollongong City Council have been providing Cloth Nappy Information Sessions to our region’s new parents for around ten years now. If you’re interested in attending a cloth nappy workshop, please email us at and we’ll pop you on the waiting list for our next round of workshops. 

*Sustainability Victoria Disposable Nappies
*ScienceDirect Disposable Diaper

Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database

The Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database has been restored and is publicly available at This website is an attempt at reviving the original Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database hosted by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation, which was discontinued a few years ago.

It displays the data contained in the original Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database, with edits to reflect taxonomic changes. System implementation is by Julia Roso in a volunteer capacity on behalf of Landcare Illawarra. It is best viewed through a browser on a tablet or computer rather than a mobile phone.

Visit the Illawarra Remnant Bushland Database here for more information. 

NSW Government Saving Our Species

Conversation From Your Couch: Seven Ways to Help Animals From Home

An article in the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species newsletter explores seven ways you can help animals from home. 
  • Be an armchair detective: log on to DigiVol and help analyse tens of thousands of images that have been captured by remote cameras Saving Our Species has set up to monitor rare plants and animals. This helps threatened species officers to make better decisions about how best to save our native animals and can also help to identify some of the threats that are impacting our threatened animals. Get involved: Monitor our mountain pygmy possums
  • Binge some reality TV: Watch the live cam in the Green Gully area of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park which gives you a peek into the world of the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby without needing to leave home. The Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby is an endangered species in NSW, living in rugged terrain along rocky outcrops, cliffs, ledges and caves. They are hard to see in the wild as their steep rocky habitat is hard to access and their natural coloration provides perfect camouflage from predators, like foxes and feral cats. Tune in here.
  • Inspire a new generation of ecologists: Now is the perfect time to pique your children’s interest in conservation, Saving Our Species has a number of resources that you can access online for free to help get your kids actively learning about threatened species in Australia, such as fun colouring-in pages and masks to engaging educational fact sheets, check them out here in the full article.
  • Kill some time, learn some things: There is so much to learn about our native plants and animals - put your knowledge to the test in Saving Our Species interactive quizzes on the Manning River turtle, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Glossy black-cockatoo, or find out what threatened species you may be: What’s your Aussie threatened species alter-ego?, Which iconic threatened species is most like you? And What unforgettable threatened frog are you?
  • Plant a native tree: You’re probably spending more time in the garden now than ever before. You could use this downtime to help provide both habitat and food for our threatened wildlife, by planting a native tree, shrub or flower. If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry, wildflowers like the everlasting daisy can thrive in pots on your balcony, introduce a pop of colour and attract birds, bees and butterflies.
  • Birdwatch from your balcony: Make yourself a cup of tea, grab your bird identification book or use an online bird identifier and spend twenty minutes or so watching the various birds coming in and out of your yard. Both relaxing and a great way to learn about native birds in your areas. Saving Our Species is also calling on community members across the South West Slopes of NSW to report their sightings of the charismatic threatened superb parrot, you can record your sightings or conduct surveys from anywhere at any time.
  • Listen to a new soundtrack: Participate in some citizen science to contribute to Australia’s frog count. If you’re not a frog specialist, that’s OK – just download the FrogID app and Australian Museum and Audio DNA experts can help you identify the species.
You can read the full Saving Our Species article here.

Sustainable Fashion

Repairing your clothes

Do you have a favourite jacket that has seen better days? Button missing from a shirt? A pair of pants that are too long? Back pocket that has come unstitched? Instead of chucking it out, why not repair it? Repairing clothes doesn’t have to be difficult or boring, a bit of DIY can spice up an old item of clothing and make it feel brand new with patches, different colour buttons or stitching, or altering the length of the item. 

Repairing clothes will prolong their life, allowing you to wear your favourite pieces for years to come. It saves them from ending up in landfill, and also reduces the demand for new resources to make new items of clothing. This also goes for any op shop or vintage finds that may be a little big or small or needing some minor repair work such as fixing a pocket or sewing on a button.

You can learn how to repair your clothes by reading how-to books, taking short courses or following online tutorials.

Did You Know?

How to Care For Your Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wraps are a great environmentally friendly alternative to single use plastic wrap to cover and wrap food. And they are easy to make and take care of! 
  • Wash in cool soapy water and air dry thoroughly before reusing
  • Never use beeswax wraps on meat or fish
  • Use the warmth of your hands to mould wraps around food, plates or bowls
  • To store, roll or fold and keep in a cool, dry place
  • Avoid heat sources like microwaves, dishwashers, steam or hot surfaces
  • Wraps should last around 12 months. They can be refreshed with a sprinkling of beeswax and popped in the oven for 10 minutes (see oven method on website link provided below) or composted when you’re finished with them.
Although beeswax wraps are great, you should avoid them if you’re allergic to pollen or honey.

There a few different methods to make beeswax wraps, using an electric frypan, an iron or your oven. For more information on the different methods of making beeswax wraps and buying and storing beeswax, please visit our Beeswax Wraps page on our website.

Threatened Species Profile

Common Name: Lesser Sand Plover
Scientific Name: Charadrius mongolus

The Lesser Sand Plover is a threatened migratory shorebird that is listed as Vulnerable in NSW and its Commonwealth status is Endangered. It is grey-brown in colour from its head, down its neck and along its back, while its forehead, lores, bill and upper wing are dark in colour. It also has white plumage on its forehead, chin, throat and underside, as well as underneath its wings.

This species is often confused with the Greater Sand Plover, but they are dissimilar in its smaller and more compact body, more upright posture and dark grey legs. Sometimes this species will have brick-red plumage on its chest, neck and top of head; this relates to its breeding period in the northern hemisphere. If visible, this indicates that the species has either just returned to Australia in time for spring or is about to depart in autumn, and is also evident in some overwintering birds. 

The Lesser Sand Plover breeds in central and north eastern Asia, and migrates further south for winter. When in Australia, this species can be found all along the entire coast, but is commonly found in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and along the east coast of Qld and northern NSW. It is rarely recorded inland and any further south than the Shoalhaven estuary. In NSW, the species is predominantly restricted to coastal areas. This species likes to hang out on the beaches of sheltered bays, and harbours and estuaries characterised by intertidal sandflats or mudflats. It is occasionally found on sandy beaches, coral reefs and rocky areas.

The Lesser Sand Plover is frequently seen in large flocks, sometimes of over 100 individuals. It is also a relatively social species, foraging alongside other wader species. They tend to forage in areas with wet ground at low tide, searching for insects, crustaceans, molluscs and marine worms. They use their eyesight to detect prey, and then make short, quick runs, abruptly stopping to lunge at the ground to catch their prey. The Lesser Sand Plover roosts during high tide on sandy beaches, spits and rocky shores.

This species faces a number of threats, including:
  • Loss and damage to suitable habitat due to changes in hydrological processes in estuaries and other water bodies, erosion, climate change, sea-level rise and development
  • Disturbance caused by humans such as walking, fishing, pets, boating, 4WD and many other activities, impacting on roosting and foraging sites
  • The spread of mangroves into saltmarsh habitat
  • Climate change and its impacts such as sea level rise
  • Invasive weeds degrading suitable habitat
  • Pollution of groundwater in key foraging habitat
For more information on the Lesser Sand Plover, visit the NSW Government’s profile and the Australian Government’s profile. All information in this article was sourced from the above websites.

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