Category Archives: News & Views

Proudly Plastic Free Campaign Part of Yarra’s New Waste Strategy

We are very pleased to see that the Proudly Plastic Free campaign that YCAN proposed (supported by a 300-signature petition) is part of the new Yarra Waste Minimisation strategy 2018–2022. It is not yet funded, however, and we will be lobbying council to ensure that the upcoming budget provides the $10,000 that is required to make it a reality.

You can read Yarra’s draft budget for 2018–19 online (it’s under Resources)and make comments. Obviously, we’d love you to support the funding of the Proudly Plastic Free campaign. Submissions close on 25 May.

YCAN is broadly supportive of the waste strategy, which focusses on waste minimisation. Food waste trials continue throughout the term of the strategy. Hopefully by the end of the lengthy trial period, officers will have selected a strategy that will enable all residents to dispose of their food waste. YCAN will be keeping a close eye on developments.

The Waste Strategy is open for comment until 13 June. You can read it online (it’s under Document Library) and make comments via the Your Say Yarra survey.

 

 

 

Congratulations to Yarra Council for Support of New Wind Farm

 

A new wind farm is now under construction at Crowlands, north of Ararat thanks to a consortium of local councils, universities and other organisations who are part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP). Yarra Council is part of the consortium. It is the first time that a group of organisation have pooled their electricity purchasing power to enable the construction of a new renewable energy facility.

According to Yarra Councillor Misha Coleman, “We don’t have to wait for state and federal governments to deliver clean energy sources – by 2019 Yarra will be buying 100% of its electricity from a wind farm.”

It is great to see local government leading the way in creating new renewable energy infrastructure.

Sustainable Toothbrushes

In Australia alone 30 million toothbrushes are thrown out every year. In the US the figure is a billion.

When YCAN members were discussing the best alternative to plastic toothbrushes, no one was happy with the types they had tried. So we’re asking for your experiences.

Bamboo handles? Recycled plastic? If you’ve found a good sustainable toothbrush that had bristles that didn’t make your gums bleed, let us know!

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Review of YCAN’s Yarra Riverkeeper Event

YCAN’s riverside event with the Yarra Riverkeeper  was informative and inspiring. Here is YCAN member Ewan’s review.

The Yarra and Climate Resilience: Safeguarding our City and the Yarra Valley      On the 28 Feb, YCAN hosted this event at the Fairfield Amphitheatre with Andrew Kelly, the Yarra Riverkeeper. In a wide-ranging presentation, Andrew reminded us all just how significant the Yarra River is for the city.

The forested upper reaches of the river – the source of most of the city’s precious, high-quality drinking water – are in good condition, but water quality declines downstream because of agricultural and urban run-off. About 21 per cent of the catchment retains its natural vegetation, 57 per cent is agricultural and 22 per cent is urbanised. (All figures extracted from the excellent Yarra Riverkeeper Association website.

The New Legislation

Andrew was particularly pleased with the passing of the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017; the Bill was passed unopposed and took effect on the 1 Dec 2017. In Andrew’s words: The Bill requires a Yarra Strategy Plan to be commissioned (from Melbourne Water as the lead agency) and this plan begins with building a 50-year community vision for our river … it includes traditional owner ‘caring for country’ management for our river in an urban context.

Key Challenges

While the Yarra will continue to play an important role in a warming climate (balancing the urban heat “island” effect), the ever-expanding urban infrastructure poses a significant challenge. “In the Lower Yarra the erection of huge apartment buildings is the most obvious problem, but just as damaging is the cumulative impact of many developments on single home sites.”

The planned NE Link road project (a six-lane connection between the Eastern Freeway and the M80 Ring Road) between Bulleen and Greensborough, passes just metres from the Bolin Bolin Billabong, a highly sacred site to the Wurundjeri people. Great ceremonies were held there between April and May with more than 1,000 people attending … Wetlands like the Bolin Bolin Billabong are incredibly important to the health of the landscape. More information available here and here.

Given that underground tunnelling for the NE Link will be required adjacent to this Billabong, the Wurundjeri people must be wondering how this route for the Link could ever have been justified.

Andrew also highlighted the need to address other problems associated with our expanding city; these problems included the litter accumulating in our waterways, and the damage caused by intense (off-track) bike use in the Yarra Environs.

In conclusion, this event was a most important reminder of the need for groups like the Yarra Riverkeeper Association, and for effective advocates for this significant resource; thank you Andrew. YCAN acknowledges that funding was received from the City of Yarra, and that the event was part of the National Sustainable Living Festival 2018.

What you can do for the Yarra River

  • Join the Yarra Riverkeeper Association
  • Tell the Victorian Government you oppose the NE Link on the grounds of its proximity to area of significance for the Wurundjeri.
  • Contact the City of Yarra and tell them they must bring forward the construction of Gross Litter Traps in the municipality, to reduce the amount of litter entering our waterways.

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Yarra Riverkeeper Event

YCAN is hosting an event as part of the Sustainable Living Festival, featuring a talk by Yarra Riverkeeper, Andrew Kelly.

Join us as Andrew speaks about the Yarra River’s  key role in the biodiversity and resilience of our city as the climate warms. He will share his passion for the health and history of the Yarra. Within sight of a curve in the river, Andrew will outline how all Melbournians must advocate on behalf of the Yarra.

6.30–8 pm Wednesday 28th February
Fairfield Amphitheatre, Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield Vic
$5 includes refreshments

Bookings essential via Eventbrite
This event is hosted by YCAN with funding from City of Yarra.

Sign our petition to help make the City of Yarra Proudly Plastic Free

This petition is now closed.

Plastic is an environmental nightmare. Manufacture of plastics produces greenhouse gas. Plastic waste leaches toxins into our waterways. Toxins from plastics can end up in our food chain. Recycling reduces the problem but the best strategy is to not use plastic in the first place.

YCAN is calling on Yarra City Council to initiate a Proudly Plastic Free campaign to encourage food outlets in Yarra to stop supplying disposable plastic items such as bags, bottles, cutlery and packaging.

Sign our petition to the Council now and pledge to preference businesses that display a Proudly Plastic Free Yarra sign.

YCAN will add your name and email to an aggregated Help Make Yarra Proudly Plastic Free petition and present it to the City of Yarra Council in 2018.

Find out more plastic facts.

Festive season tip

As the festive season approaches, YCAN members have been turning their minds to sustainable gift giving:
Kerry: Avoid buying wrapping paper. Who Gives a Crap loo paper wrapping is great for gifts. Also colourful magazines, or brown paper bags – especially for kids who just tear the wrapping apart anyway!
Ewan: No wrapping paper required for Oxfam’s Unwrapped gifts. On behalf of your gift recipient, you purchase such things as a goat, a well, a veggie garden to help people lift themselves out of poverty.
Kevin: When buying gifts for children, instead of four gifts make it three and give a donation to a cause they can relate to.
Adeline: If you can’t get around gift giving, gift cards for services, e.g. massages, a dinner, etc. are a good option.

Gleadell Street Market Stall

We picked a nice sunny day to have a stall at the Gleadell Street Market.

We were collecting signatures for our Proudly Plastic Free Campaign and we chatted to shoppers about the issues. It also gave us a chance to check out how the market’s Plastic Bag Free status is going.

The answer was “not well”. Many stallholders are now handing out “biodegradable” bags, no doubt believing that these are an environmentally friendly alternative to regular plastic bags. But a Senate Enquiry released last year says that these bags don’t decompose, instead they breakdown into harmful microplastics.

This is something that YCAN will be investigating further.

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YCAN at Richmond’s Gleadell Street Market