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Bega Valley Shire Council walks the talk

Starting the plastic-free journey from the inside out

Bega Valley Shire is a picturesque municipality located on the south-eastern coastline of New South Wales. Being so close to the water, the community better understands the devastating environmental impact that single-use plastic has.

In 2019, the Bega Valley Shire Council joined the Plastic Free July challenge, and encouraged the public to get on board as well. Through helpful and free workshops, competitions on social media, and more, they made a real difference.

More than that though, members of the Bega Valley Shire Council wanted to truly walk the talk and participate in the challenge at an individual level as well. As Sarah Eastman, Waste Project Officer, explains, “we hoped that the community might see our efforts within Council, and of some of our staff, to show that every little bit counts.”

Creating accessible resources

One of the most empowering things a council can do when participating in Plastic Free July is making resources readily available to the community. For Bega Valley, this came in the form of a mug library and a borrow bag station.

The library at Tura Beach set up the mug library, allowing people to borrow mugs to use at the café across the road. They could grab a coffee (at a discounted rate), enjoy their drink without the need for a takeaway cup, and then return it to the library when done.

The Council also stocked up on their borrow bag station, giving people access to reusable bags if they’d left theirs at home. Going beyond their own doorstep, they also promoted the idea to other businesses, highlighting how easy it was to do with such a significant impact.

Education is power

Many people simply don’t realise the positive environmental impact they can make with small changes to their everyday habits. During the Plastic Free July challenge, the Bega Valley Shire Council worked to close this education gap by:

  • Sharing ideas for reducing plastic waste, such as using loose leaf tea over tea bags.
  • Running a free bees wax wrap workshop for 20 community members. Each member then took 1-2 wraps home with them.
  • Funding the libraries to stock the ABC’s War on Waste series, so that the community had easy access to a fantastic learning tool.

Getting the word out on social media

Social media is a great way to engage the community. The Bega Valley Shire Council used it to their advantage by running competitions to promote plastic waste reduction and give away prize packs to two lucky community members. The post reached about 8,500 people, which is a significant number in such a small community!

They also advertised the efforts of local businesses and community members who were participating in Plastic Free July through social media. This encouraged a sense of comradery, and helped spark motivation for others to join in, too!

Looking forward

By making relatively small changes, the Bega Valley Shire Council made an impressive environmental impact in 2019. Moving forward, they’re excited to make even bigger scale changes.

This includes:

  • Running more bees wax wrap workshops, to go even further beyond the 20 community members who already benefited from the first one.
  • Setting up a station within the Council that showcases sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic, such as bamboo toothbrushes and steel pegs.
  • Setting up a mug station within the Council for members to use.

More stories

What did you do for Plastic Free July?

 Please share your story – what you did, the challenges and barriers and your successes. Where possible we will then share this to inspire others in their efforts to reduce plastic waste, grow the movement and amplify the impact.

To find plastic free ideas, take the Plastic Free July challenge

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