Community Leaders in Sustainability

In 2017, 2019 and 2020 we ran the Community Leaders in Sustainability course. This free course connected community members who are passionate about creating local community-based solutions to climate change and other environmental issues. The 2020 course was cut short due to COVID-19.

Past Projects

Food Scrap Friday

Food Scrap Friday at Camdenville Public School in Newtown is a way to recycle food waste into soil-enriching compost. School families bring their kitchen scraps to the school gate on Friday mornings, where parent volunteers collect and weigh the waste and take it to Camdenville Paddock Community Garden for composting. Currently around 40 families contribute and they collect around 200kg each week. Since starting in October 2016 they have composted more than 16 tonnes of kitchen waste.

For Lachlan Jobbins, the Community Leaders in Sustainability course helped take Food Scrap Friday from an embryonic project with two volunteers to a program that has been embraced by the school community, inspired similar projects in other schools and even been featured on an episode of Gardening Australia.

Lachlan reflected on the course, describing it as similar to a business development program, for volunteer-based social projects. It gave him the chance to really focus on what he was trying to achieve, and to break it down into concrete elements: an audience, a benefit, a process. It introduced him to people within Council and beyond who were able to help. It gave him the chance to test ideas and present them to an encouraging audience.

He learnt about project planning, gathering and encouraging volunteers, brainstorming, pitching to potential collaborators and supporters, and improving processes and systems in small increments. Lachlan met other people doing great projects in the community and these networks continue to be a source of inspiration and encouragement.

Lachlan says that there’s no doubt that Food Scrap Friday wouldn’t be what it is today if he hadn’t done the Community Leaders in Sustainability course.

Inner West Tool Library

Amy Croucher was part of the 2017 Community Leaders in Sustainability course and she believes it helped propel the Inner West Tool Library (IWTL) project into the community.

After mulling on the idea to open a tool library for about 6 months before the course, Amy had kept it to herself, worrying about what might happen if she put it out to the world. During the course, a public meeting was held, inviting local passionate people to come along and discuss what a sharing library in the inner west would look like for them. Some of those that attended that first meeting are still with the IWTL today!

The skills Amy learnt in the course, and the people she met really helped build the project and allowed her to power on with confidence and support. For her, the session on “How to Pitch a Project” refined why she wanted to do this project, and what it could achieve. This in turn helped with grant applications and securing some seed funding which helped the IWTL open. Using connections through the course, relationships were made with other organisations and a fantastic location was established at the Petersham Bowling Club.

The Inner West Tool Library launched in January 2019. It is a not for profit, 100% volunteer run community organisation allowing residents to access hundreds of tools and useful things you only use once or twice a year.  It brings together the idea of sharing as a way to reduce waste, save people money and space, and to help build a more connected and resilient community.

With over 170 members and less than a year under their belt the IWTL were highly commended in the Community Spirit and Inclusion category of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW 2019 Sustainable Cities Awards. What an amazing start to a spark of an idea to help minimise waste and build community.

To find out more check out:

Rethink your wardrobe

During the second Community Leaders in Sustainability course three women came together and created Wear Aware, to influence people to move from fast fashion to slow. Jen Bryant, Rosa Brown and Stella Robison are passionate about fashion and want to show others how to be fashionable with a conscience.

On 4 May 2019 Wear Aware partnered with the Green Living Centre to present Rethink Your Wardrobe, a panel discussion and clothes swap at Petersham Town Hall. The panellists were local responsible fashionistas: Melinda Tually (Coordinator of Fashion Revolution A&NZ), Natalie Shehata (Tommie Magazine), Emily Kate Symes (EKOLUV, Eko & Lux blog), Faye De Lanty (Fashion Hound blog), with MC Dr Lisa Heinze (author, Clean Cut). They spoke about their fashion journeys, ethical and low waste fashion, and what individuals can do to be more responsible. After the discussion people were able to find good quality additions to their wardrobe at the clothes swap. Over two hundred items changed hands.

The Community Leaders in Sustainability course brought Jen, Rosa and Stella together over their shared desire to combat over-consumption, fast fashion, and how to dress sustainably while maintaining your own style. During the course they were able to develop their vision, create a video, and to start planning a clothes swap, which developed into Rethink Your Wardrobe.