Issue 82
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Welcome to Sustainable Wollongong June Issue


This edition includes the following articles:

  • Grow Local: Synergy and Zoning

  • Starting a Coastal Conversation

  • Tiny Forest Planted in Wollongong

  • Solar and Appliance Upgrades to Bust Energy Bills

  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

  • Pillows - Can We Recycle Them?

  • Did You Know? Recycling

  • Threatened Species Profile: White-Flowered Wax Plant

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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

Synergy and Zoning

Not only is it important to plant the right plants at the right time, but it is essential that they are planted in the right place! Imagine you are cooking dinner and could really use some fresh rosemary to add to your dish, but you planted this way up the back of your yard. Wouldn’t it have been handier to have this right at your back door?

Considering the types of veggies, fruit trees, compost, worm farms, and animals that you want to have in your yard and the level of management required to maintain each of them is really important in establishing a harmonious and prosperous food garden. Designing your garden so that elements you will use or visit roughly the same amount are placed near each other will make your garden more user-friendly and efficient and allow for these elements to interact in helpful ways.

By placing herbs and other easy to pick plants near your back door, this will encourage you to add them to your meal, while fruit trees or large composting systems can be situated further down the yard. It is also handy to have smaller compost bins close to veggie gardens so you can easily spread your compost.

The following zones may be useful to consider when planning and designing your garden:
  • Zone 1: The area immediately surrounding the main building, here is where you would put the things you want every-day access to such as worm farms, compost bins and veggie patches.
  • Zone 2: Requires less frequent attention, contains elements such as beehives, chooks/ducks, larger composting systems, perennial plants/pumpkin patch.
  • Zone 3: Fruit forest or provide grazing space for larger animals. Fairly minimal maintenance, often needing only weekly visits.
  • Zone 4: Furthest from the main building, this is where you might help provide some habitat, featuring hardy local native plants or natural bushland.
Read our Grow Local Edible Garden Guide for more information on zoning your veggie garden!

Harvest Now:
FRUIT: Avocado, Banana, Carambola, Cherry of Rio Grande, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Macadamia, Mandarin, Orange, Panama Berry, Paw Paw, Atherton Raspberry, Brazilian Cherry, Coffee, Finger Lime, Guava, Dragon Fruit, Passionfruit.

VEGETABLES: Leek, Shallots, Beetroot, Silverbeet, Spinach, Carrot, Celery, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish, Rocket, Pumpkin, Pea, Chilli, Potato, Tomato, Lettuce, Sweet Potato.

HERBS: Coriander, Dill, Parsley, Chives, Ginger, Mint, Lemongrass, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
Plant Now:
VEGETABLES: Onion, Radish, Rocket, Pea, Asparagus, Lettuce.

HERBS: Dill.

Starting a Coastal Conversation

Wollongong’s coastline offers us great lifestyle, enviable views and its role in supporting a diverse range of flora and fauna. We’re proud of our coastline and as part of our commitment to protect and care for it we’re embarking on the first stage of a new Wollongong Coastal Management Program (CMP).

This long-term project will ultimately see the development of a strategy for the coordinated management of our coast and estuaries, guided by the Coastal Management Act 2016. We already have a CMP for Lake Illawarra so this project is looking at the remainder of the coast.

Our community has an important role to play in the CMP’s development. Our community’s voices are important in this scoping phase, which will determine what the CMP needs to include, what studies need to be prepared and who needs to be involved. We will also review the work that has been undertaken in the past to manage issues and challenges in our coastal areas.

Now is the time for our community to share their thoughts on our coast and estuaries, how they use and enjoy our beaches, headlands and rock platforms and what they love about this environment.

Engagement started on 1 June 2022 with an interactive online mapping tool and online survey. There will be a series of pop-up stalls held across the city in late June to provide residents and visitors the opportunity to speak directly with the project team. Engagement closes on 30 June 2022.

Developing a CMP is made up of five stages and we are at the first stage:
  • Stage 1: Identify the scope of the CMP
  • Stage 2: Determine risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities
  • Stage 3: Identify and evaluate options
  • Stage 4: Prepare, exhibit, finalise, certify, and adopt the CMP
  • Stage 5: Implement, monitor, evaluate and report
For more information about the CMP or how to join the conversation, visit our website.

This project is supported by the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Program.

Tiny Forest Planted in Wollongong

On Wednesday 8 June, Council staff were joined by students from Tarrawanna Public School to plant a Tiny Forest at Harrigan Park, Tarrawanna. This is the first for Wollongong and possibly a first for any Council in NSW!

These miniature forests are growing in popularity around the world and are based on a movement founded by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, where local native plants are planted in a small urban area (roughly the size of a tennis court).

Despite their small footprint, they bring big impacts to reduce the urban heat island effect, cooling the air, increasing canopy cover, capturing carbon emissions, acting as a buffer against noise, as well as increasing biodiversity.
Learn more

Solar and Appliance Upgrades to Bust Energy Bills

Thousands of families will soon be able to cut their energy bills with solar and home appliance upgrades, thanks to a $128 million Energy Bill Buster program in the 2022-23 NSW Budget. 

Around a third of NSW households are currently receiving an energy rebate to help them with their energy bills. The Energy Bill Buster program will allow eligible households to receive the equivalent of up to 10 years’ worth of rebates in an upfront lump sum contribution towards a free solar system or home appliance upgrade. 

Eligible households can apply to get a free solar system that can save you up to $600 each year, instead of the annual $285 Low Income Household Rebate. 

“People living in apartments or renting who can’t have solar installed may be eligible to swap their rebate for a suite of energy saving appliance upgrades, helping to reduce demand on the grid and lower power prices for everyone,” Treasurer Matt Kean said. 

“These include energy efficient fridges, dryers, air-conditioners and hot water systems, and upgrades such as window shading and draught sealing valued at up to $4,000.” 

The Energy Bill Buster program follows the NSW Government’s recent announcement to increase the number of vouchers available under the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance scheme by 25 per cent to $400 per transaction for households struggling to pay their electricity and gas bills. 

The 2022-23 Budget includes funding to initially help up to 30,000 households under the program, with further funding to be considered based on uptake.  

The Energy Bill Buster program replaces the Empowering Homes pilot, following a program evaluation. Applications for the Empowering Homes pilot will close on 31 July 2022. 
Find out more and register for the Energy Bill Buster program 

Read the full article here

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was on Friday 17th June. This year’s theme was ‘Rising Up From Drought Together’, emphasising the need for early action to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity and the planet’s ecosystems.

Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development, especially in developing countries but increasingly so in developed nations too. Forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population.

The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29% since 2000, as compared to the two previous decades. When more than 2.3 billion people already face water stress, this is a huge problem. More and more of us will be living in areas with extreme water shortages, including an estimated one in four children by 2040.

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world’s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. When the land degrades and stops being productive, natural spaces deteriorate and transform. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions increase and biodiversity decreases. It also means there are fewer wild spaces to buffer zoonoses, such as COVID-19, and protect us from extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and sand and dust storms.

Did you know: 
  • Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts has risen 29%? 

  • An estimated 55 million people globally are directly affected by droughts every year 

  • By 2050, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population 

For more information, visit the United Nations website.  

Pillows - Can We Recycle Them?

In this cold weather, isn’t it great to get into a nice warm bed each night? That moment when your head finally hits the pillow – bliss! But wait, have you given your pillow much thought lately? Do you replace your pillows regularly? We’ve all heard that we should regularly replace our pillows, but what do we do with our old pillows? They take up a huge amount of space in our bins and end up in landfill where they can damage our environment and take years to break down.

Most animal shelters and charities won’t accept old pillows.  Your best option is to purchase your pillows wisely, then re-purpose them at their end-of-life. Organic cotton, bamboo, wool, rubber latex and feather are all compostable options to consider. But, of course, there are ethical and environmental considerations to take into account with each option.

A great natural, environmentally friendly option is to make your own pillow out of buckwheat hulls, a by-product of buckwheat farming. Simply fill a pillow protector case with the hulls until you reach your comfort level. The hulls can then be composted when it’s time to replace your pillows.

If buckwheat hulls aren’t an option for you, there are many ways you can upcycle your old pillows:
  • Using them as a floor, gardening, or knee pillows
  • Making a pet bed
  • Use them as packing or moving materials to protect breakable items
  • Repurpose them as draft stoppers
  • Compost any organic chemical-free fillings
  • Use the stuffing to fluff up old pillows or beanbags
  • Crafts & Hobbies: Do you have a creative edge? Remove the stuffing from the inside of a pillow and reuse it in your next project. If the outer layer of fabric is clean and spot-free, you can use that too!
Textile Recycling: Textile Recyclers are an available option for our area.  They will collect and recycle your old pillows (if they aren’t contaminated). However, there is a starting cost from approximately $20 to use this recycling service. 

Did You Know?

You can recycle many common household items including cardboard, paper, steel cans, rigid plastic containers and glass bottles and jars in your yellow top bin which is collected fortnightly. But there are some common household items that cannot be recycled in your yellow bin at home but can be recycled at Council’s Community Recycling Centre at Kembla Grange. 

This includes items such as gas bottles, paint, fluoro globes, oils, household and car batteries, mobile phones, cardboard and paper, e-waste, fridges and freezers, scrap metal and mixed recyclables. Plastic bags are not accepted in your regular recycling bin, these will contaminate the recycling process.

Items must be in household quantities; except for fridges and freezers, items should be no larger than 20kg or 20 litres.
For more information, please visit the Wollongong Waste recycling webpage here and the Community Recycling Centre webpage here.

Threatened Species Profile

Common Name: White-Flowered Wax Plant
Scientific Name: Cynanchum elegans

The White-Flowered Wax Plant is listed as Endangered by both the NSW Government and the Commonwealth. This species is a climber/twiner plant, which varies highly in its form. It has fissured corky bark and can grow up to 10 metres in height.

The leaves are generally paired on this plant, and are oval in shape, ranging from 1.5-10.5 cm in length and 1.5-7.5 cm in width. The flowers are tubular and white, roughly 4 mm long. The fruit is a pod which can hold up to 45 seeds and has long silky hairs on one end.

The White-Flowered Wax Plant can be found in a restricted area in eastern NSW, ranging from Brunswick Heads to Gerroa. The furthest inland it has been found is in Merriwa in the upper Hunter River valley. This species is primarily located on the edges of dry rainforest vegetation but can also be found in vegetation types such as littoral rainforest; Coastal Tea-tree Leptospermum laevigatum - Coastal Banksia Banksia integrifolia subsp. integrifolia coastal scrub; Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis aligned open forest and woodland; Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata aligned open forest and woodland; and Bracelet Honeymyrtle Melaleuca armillaris scrub to open scrub.

This species flowers between August and May, with this primarily occurring in November. The development of fruit can take up to six months, and seeds are dispersed via wind. A milky sap is released when the plant is damaged. The species has been observed to reshoot after fire but has also exhibited population decline in a location which has been annually burned. If slashed or grazed infrequently, this species can grow from rootstock. It is not known whether a soil seed bank exists but is considered unlikely.

The White-Flowered Wax Plant faces several threats such as:
  • Loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat due to vegetation clearing for activities such as agriculture, urban development and quarry development and expansion.
  • Competition with weeds
  • Agricultural activities such as grazing by domestic stock
  • Small populations which are therefore more susceptible to impacting factors
  • Disturbance from such things as inappropriate fire regimes, changes to hydrological processes, urban runoff, natural disasters, track construction and other environmental changes.
For more information, please 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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