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  • Monday, June 10, 2019 3:42 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Environmentally aware as we are, it can sometimes be easy to become complacent or fail to come up with new ideas on reducing waste. I run a boutique physiotherapy practice where, often, we can’t do the ‘big’ things like changing fleets of vehicles or switching to solar. But caring for the environment is a team effort and requires more people doing small things, rather than a small few people doing everything perfectly. Here are 5 things we’ve recently implemented in the clinic to reduce waste and continue to be environmental advocates.

    • 1)      Reusable Client information forms:

    Months ago, we created a fillable new client form on PDF, which we email out to all new clients prior to their initial appointment, along with an email note on our aims to reduce waste. Despite this, we still found that we were printing far too many forms for clients to fill out on the day- until I visited a massage therapist on the Sunshine Coast and stole this idea! We’ve now laminated several forms and our clients use whiteboard markers to fill them out. They can then be scanned, wiped down and reused!

    • 2)      Bokashi Bin:

    Recommended by the Committee for Waste reduction, the Bokashi Bin is a really easy way to divert food waste away from landfill. Unlike many traditional composting systems, it accepts meat and dairy and can be buried directly into the garden- perfect for our new backyard veggie patch!

    • 3)      Educate, Educate, Educate:

    I learned early on that if I was to lead by example, I also needed to make things easy for people. We already have our ‘Redcycle’ bins clearly labelled with what should go into them, but I’ve realised there needs to be more awareness of how important reducing, reusing and recycling actually is. To help get the message out more, we’ve displayed the Cairns City Council ‘Recycle Right’ pages in our waiting area, along with articles on the recycling crisis caused by India and China cutting their acceptance of Australian recycling.

    • 4)      Redcycle:

    For any business that sells products, plastic wrapping is an unfortunate part of purchasing goods. We’ve tried to mitigate this as much as possible by choosing suppliers and products wisely, but for the plastic that slips through, we have Redcycle bins displayed in all our rooms. It’s easy for me to take a couple of bags to the bins at Woolworths or Coles when I’m going to do my weekly shop and it cuts down a massive amount of waste from landfill.

    • 5)      BYO containers:

    We’ve had our own branded reusable coffee cups since the early days of the practice- we even lend these to people going to grab a coffee from Billy’s, two doors down. Our filtered water in the reception area is surrounded by stainless steel cups (which it takes us 2 minutes to wash, rather than wasting endless disposable cups) and we regularly refill our handwash, laundry detergent and natural cleaning sprays at The Source bulk wholefoods.

  • Monday, June 10, 2019 3:32 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Bordered by World Heritage rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a truly unique and special city. Whilst its natural beauty and diversity is something to be celebrated, they also bring sustainability challenges as our city’s population expands and urbanisation spreads. There is no doubt that finding a balance between economic, environmental and social objectives for Cairns will be the greatest challenge for our future   residents and leaders. It is for this reason that Humanities and Sustainability students at the Tropical North Learning Academy Smithfield State High School have taken up this challenge through a range of triple bottom line studies to investigate to ensure our city’s future is sustainable.
    One of the key focuses of these studies has been around catchment care and reducing urban environmental impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Students have been investigating the environmental, social and economic values of catchments in our area such as Saltwater Creek and Half Moon Creek Catchments and factors which are placing them under threat. This includes household waste and pollution, sediment and nutrient run off and introduced noxious plants and fish. As part of these studies we have partnered up with various experts from the Smart Catchments: Saltwater Creek Pilot Creek Program, James Cook University as well as the Cairns Aquarium to support learning and understanding on how best to manage these catchments for the future.
    Sustainability students have taken this investigation even further by looking to future technologies and global best practice to ensure the sustainability of our city and its catchments. Students have been looking beyond conventional technology and exploring the possibilities of Libelium Smart World applications to see how Sensors for Smart Cities and Internet of Things applications and beyond can make our city more sustainable. This includes looking at smart water and agriculture sensor technologies to limit sediment and nutrient run off for catchments right through smart city technology which conserves energy. Students have been challenged to transform our city into the city of the future which finds a balance between economic, environmental and social objectives.
    These studies are essential to our students as they will be the leaders of our city in the very near future. 

    Students learning from Roger Mainwood from TPG Architects the best features of Urban Design for Cairns at JCU city Campus

    Teaming up with the Cairns Aquarium has meant students can see all the different fish, flora, insects and reptiles found across all phases of the Cairns Catchment.

    Learning outside the classroom is a big part of our catchment inquiry.

    Students have been studying some of our unique native fish such as the Jungle perch and why they are vital to our catchments.

    Protecting Cairns is about protecting our catchments.

    Students have been focusing heavily on introduced species eradication such as tilapia control.

  • Monday, March 25, 2019 10:28 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    The Waste Wise Business membership is an initiative founded by the Committee For Waste Reduction.

    In business today we need the support to achieve our financial goals as well as factor in our footprint on the planet and our societal impact. We offer support to business to understand and reduce your business footprint whilst still achieving your financial goals.

    The big question is where to begin and how can it benefit your business.

    This is where the Waste Wise Business membership comes in. It has been developed to suit any size business from a solo owner/operator to corporate organisations, schools and government.

    By joining you will be provided with the tools to identify your first action to implement and what it means to your business.  You will begin to measure the reduction in waste generated and impact on your bottom line.

    Within this membership you will receive a self audit tool, environmental statement template, and access for multiple users to connect on one online platform with other local businesses and organisations. This will create the regions first dedicated network of socially and environmentally conscious businesses.

    Join us to take the first step to a lasting future for our businesses, community and most importantly our planet that we can continue to thrive in.

  • Monday, March 25, 2019 10:16 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Welcome to our first Mini Mag of 2019! This will be released to you at the end of each quarter and is packed with content and tips from our members. We always love to hear feedback from you on what you want to see from us including workshops, lunch themes and articles.

    This issue is no exception! We have our regular contributor’s Scottie Paterson from Cairns Regional Council showcasing the freshly laid footpaths of recycled glass, Owen Waters of FNQ Finance Guy with the importance of change champions and Cathy Earle from with top tips for camping eco style. PLUS a number of insightful and thought provoking pieces from Anne Naylor, Cynthia Freilich, Suzanne Rath and feature pieces from Waste Wise Business member Sabine Schroeder from Spa in a Jar and our March School Focus from Holy Cross.

    Aspects we encourage you to be aware of are policies being introduced and how they will impact you. The Queensland government is developing a new waste management and resource recovery strategy to increase recycling rates and create new jobs. The plastic bag ban is in full swing, as is the Container Refund Scheme designed to reduce littering and give more incentive to dispose of containers more responsibly.

    The next policy to get familiar with is the Waste Levy (a tax applied to waste types by weight) which is being introduced on 1st July 2019 to align with the beginning of the new financial year. Follow this link for all you need to know

    Simply put we need to reduce waste in our homes and businesses. From a business perspective consider better sorting of waste generated to divert weight from general waste bin. In other words, different bins for food scraps, containers eligible for refund, soft plastics and paper.

    One suggestion is to start referring to what you are doing with the term of ‘sorting’ as opposed to ‘recycling’ as you personally are technically not the ones recycling. That is what the operators do that receive what you dispose of…you are sorting ready to make things more streamlined for processing.

    It’s an important distinction and one that may help introduce better practices in the home or workplace.

    My final word is to support local businesses and create the demand for better quality products, better packaging and buy recycled products to assist developing a market for all recyclables to be diverted in a positive long lasting way.

    I hope to see you at our CFWR Energy Waste Reduction lunch happening on 4th April at The Bungalow Hotel, Aumuller St, Cairns.

    With gratitude

    Lesley Van Staveren

  • Monday, March 25, 2019 10:11 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    A sustainable renewable resource… which you may remember from geography in primary school; where rain falls from the sky and we have precipitation, evaporation and condensation. Our Earth is 71% water, even our bodies are made up of 50-65% of water.

    So, what is the best way to get this precious renewable resource back into our body? We already know it is important to stay hydrated and that drinking plenty of water throughout the day is good for our health, and of course coffee and soda’s do not substitute for water.

    We also know that consuming bottled water is bad for the environment, all those plastic bottles generally end up in land fill, in some way or another whether they are recycled or not. Did you also know that plastic water bottles, including refillable or reusable plastic water bottles and even plastic water tanks can be dangerous to our health? When the plastic changes temperature, it also changes the molecular structure of the plastic and therefore leaches into our drinking water.

    What about tap water? I hear you say, doesn’t exactly taste the best does it? That’s because tap water can contain toxins such as chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals, radioactive material and other nasties.

    So, what is the sustainable solution that contributes to our health without hurting the earth and the environment?

    Invest in a good quality water filter and refill a glass or stainless steel (not aluminium) drinking container and wash it out regularly. Bottoms Up!

  • Monday, March 25, 2019 10:05 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    We certainly do at Spajar skincare! Being mindful about our resources inside and out has translated not just into obvious measures like using recycled shipping materials and relying on solar power and LED light through our production space. We use a carbon neutral freight company to ship our ethically sourced ingredients, if local sourcing is impossible. Our products are free from ingredients harmful to our bodies or to the environment. If we can’t eat it, it’s not in our products. If it would hurt the land or local waterways, we don’t even think about making it. Soon we will be launching reef friendly sun protection to complement our environmentally mindful range.

    We clean our facilities chemical free and even built our recent shelving fit-out entirely from recycled cover sheets, that would have otherwise gone into landfill. Whilst our customers do net (yet) support the increased shipping cost of a switch to reusable glass product containers, they certainly appreciate refill options that we offer.

    For us sustainability goes way beyond minimising transport miles and separating waste, using stainless steel straws to sip filtered tap water from our keep cups, or using beeswax wraps instead of single use cling film. We feel that our responsibility to be mindful and waste wise extends just as much to our internal world. We nurture body, mind and soul of our team with whole foods, meditation breaks and yoga sessions in a designated peaceful area on site to balance demanding work days.

    You could say that being waste wise is our mantra, that we live and breathe in everything that we do. We inspire each other via a waste wise ideas board and challenges, that all contribute to. Even ideas get recycled. There is so much more that we could do, and we are looking for it. It all starts with a thought. With mindful awareness about the choices we make as individuals and as a business. Sustainability has truly become our team and company culture, and that is fun and deeply rewarding, not a chore.

    With love and gratitude,

    Until I talk to you next,


  • Monday, March 25, 2019 9:54 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Involving your team in your corporate and social responsibility plans: As entrepreneurs and business owners, many of us are used to juggling a million great ideas in our heads. Whether it’s a new idea for increasing cashflow, or the implementation of a new policy, sometimes we can push ahead with changes and wonder why it’s taking our team so long to catch up with us.

    When it comes to hitting environmental goals, here are some simple ways to get everyone on board and working together for the good of our planet.

    1. Find their why. Anybody who has ever watched a talk by Simon Sinek will be familiar with the concept of having a strong ‘why’ for doing the things we do. In business and in life this is a key for success. People protect the things they love- for me, being waste wise has a lot to do with my love of animals and particularly marine life, as a keen diver. Your staff may be more motivated by creating a better future for their kids, having clean trails to walk on, learning something new or even a financial incentive for hitting a key waste reduction goal and saving the business money. Finding each individual ‘why’ will enable you to tailor some waste reduction goals to them, hopefully increasing their work satisfaction as a whole.

    2. Allow time for change. As the Owner of a relatively new business, I am constantly tweaking and updating systems and procedures, which can be overwhelming for staff if they are bombarded with everything at once. I definitely don’t want our environmental goals to be another ‘burden’. I’ve received several pieces of advice to help avoid this. Firstly, in the weekly team meeting, pick one policy, procedure or value to review. Ask your staff to ‘rate how we are doing on this’, followed by, ‘how can we do better.’ It’s important to listen to responses with curiosity and non judgement- not everybody is ready for multiple frequent changes in the workplace, so ensure you create an achievable plan with your team to reach your waste wise goals. The second useful piece of advice for ALL of us is that there’s no point in waiting for a system to be perfect before implementing it! If we make mistakes at the beginning, that’s fine- at least we’ve started the process!

    3. Offer paid work time for volunteering on environmental causes/ involve staff in discussions on choosing causes. This year I asked my staff to discuss themselves if they’d like to participate in Clean Up Australia Day- they organised a time and date, I suggested a place and my awesome practice manager registered us online. We are already planning a team lunch to one of the CFWR lunches later in the year.

    4. Lead by example. We have a kitchen shelf full of work branded keep cups, which I’ll always use when buying coffee for the team or myself. I turn off air conditioners and lights in rooms not being used and I personally bring all the Redcycle Plastic recycling from the clinic to a Coles or Woolworths drop off. When my staff start working for me, I advise them that as a small business, I don’t believe it’s ‘not my job’ to empty a bin, etc. As I’m passionate about the environment, it’s not difficult for me to show this.

    5. Collaborate. My staff are probably sick of listening to me talking about quarterly goals, but goal setting does offer a great chance to reflect on what we’ve done for our corporate and social responsibility values, as well as setting goals for the next quarter. Through collaboration and delegation of key tasks and projects to the correct people, we’ve managed to systemise a lot of our client journey to being paperless- including online exercise programs, new client forms, referral partner books and more. We also use a phone app to communicate within the team quickly and easily- trying to cut out death by post it notes!

    A beautiful thing about business ownership for me is our capacity to affect positive social change. I’d love to hear how many of you have managed to lead your team or others towards achieving positive environmental outcomes!

    Suzanne Rath is a physiotherapist and the owner of Wellness Embodied Cairns.

  • Monday, March 25, 2019 9:45 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Our environment is a very important part of our community. That is why we must keep it clean and healthy. This will have a massive impact on our future. Think about your life do you want to grow up in a place where the air isn’t clean and the ocean is a hazard to swim in? Our sea life is dying faster because of oil spills and pollution. Some of the pollution that arrives in the ocean are straws, plastic bags and coffee cups.

    We have to look after our environment, as it’s not just a part of our earth, it’s a part of our future. Some ways you can help out are: cleaning up after yourself. Even if the rubbish isn’t yours, pick it up and put it in the bin.  Turn off electricity when you are finished with it. This includes lights, fans, power-points, air-conditioners and all other appliances.

    However, we are slowly improving thanks to small and big retailers. They are helping by banning single use plastic bags, selling more than one use coffee cups and recycling scrap foods.

    A lot of businesses are taking action and that’s what we all need to do. We just need them to spread the word. If the world finds out then maybe everyone will tag along and try and make a difference, this will help greatly in your community and others communities.

    Holy Cross School has also been a part of the country wide, “Clean up Australia Day”. During this time students collected over 2 000 pieces of rubbish on just one day! Since then students are improving helping to reduce our rubbish by bringing a litter free lunch box and by putting our rubbish in the correct bins; waste, containers for change and food scraps.

    Photo: Michayla Fox, Rhianna Woodall, Amber Rossow-Fraser, Betty Cornell, 

    Mitchell Arnold, Lachie Godden

    It is hoped in the future we may not need the waste bin.

    Mitchell Arnold

    Year 6

    Environment Club

  • Thursday, March 21, 2019 9:58 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    This month has seen two fabulous yearly initiatives evolve.   Firstly, Clean Up Australia on 3rd March.

    In 1989 an 'average Australian bloke' had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard - Sydney Harbour. This simple idea has now become the nation's largest community-based environmental event, Clean Up Australia Day.

    It is hard to believe that this campaign began as the inspiration of one man, Australian builder and solo yachtsman, Ian Kiernan.  As an avid sailor, Ian had always dreamed about sailing around the world.

    In 1987 his dream came true when he competed in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race. As he sailed through the oceans of the world in his yacht 'Spirit of Sydney' he was shocked and disgusted by the pollution and rubbish that he continually encountered in areas such as the Sargasso Sea in the Caribbean.

    Having waited years to see the Sargasso's legendary long golden weeds, Ian's excited anticipation turned to anger and disappointment when he found the waters polluted and tangled with rubbish.

    Back in Sydney Ian organised a community event with the support of a committee of friends, including Clean Up co founder Kim McKay AO - Clean Up Sydney Harbour.

    Team ENJO Australia across 15 sites throughout the country collected 175 bags of rubbish from beaches, foreshores and parks totally 875 kgs. 


    Earth Hour - Saturday 30/3/19 at 8.30pm - a global movement for the environment.  Every hour in Australia we use 416,666 plastic bags;  100,000 coffee cups; generate 1.5kg of greenhouse gas per household; throw away 900,800 bottles and cans. 

    What is #Connect2Earth?

    #Connect2Earth is a challenge to switch off during Earth Hour and reconnect with the natural environment.


     From the national treasure of the Great Barrier Reef, to our iconic koala in the forest, to the much-loved penguins of Antarctica - our unique biodiversity, meaning the wildlife and the natural places we love, face a perilous future if we don’t step up to protect our planet (and our home!) from the impacts of climate change.

    So this Earth Hour, it’s easy for all Australians to show they care: just switch off and #Connect2Earth and you will amplify the national conversation on climate change.

    For more info, here' the link

  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 10:06 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Eco Glamping: Reducing Plastic on your Trip

    We’ve all heard of the saying “pack out what you pack in” and although this is generally a  reference to “take your rubbish with you when you leave,” simply reducing the items that you pack in, or ensuring what you do pack in is reusable will also lessen the amount of waste you’ll need to “pack out”.

    Let’s take a look at some of the common items on the packing list. Cling wrap is probably at the top. You can cross that one off ­— there are other ways to keep your food fresh and they don’t involve any waste.

    The first one is to take a few Reusable Wraps with you on the journey. These can either be Beeswax or the Vegan Wax variety. But an even better method is to take a few reusable containers. You can pack your food, such as cheese into the containers before you go then you won’t have any need to wrap up the end of the block like you might do at home. If you’re a serious camper (taking more than a couple of trips a year), then you might want to opt for a few stainless steel containers rather than the plastic kind. They will last a lot longer and it’s very unlikely they will break on the journey. These can also be used at home for storage or lunch boxes.

    Just say no to plastic utensils and dishes — disposable plates and cutlery is so last century! You don’t need to rush out and buy paper plates (which are likely to be wrapped in a layer of plastic) either. Even if you’ve decided on this trip you’ll be “glamping”, keep it real, you don’t need the finest looking cutlery to grace the picnic table. Take a trip to your local op shop and find some mismatching knives, forks and spoons. They’ll last a lifetime, you’ll be supporting a great cause and it they’ll make for a great conversation starter. If you need a lighter option and there’s just the two of you then a bamboo cutlery set would also be a suitable option.

    Now that we’ve ditched the disposables for re-usable plates and cutlery there will be dishes to do. But the good news is . . . when you’re camping doing the dishes is part of the entertainment. The best options for scrubbing dishes are those that don’t involve plastic, and while this is also recommended in the home it’s a must for camping trips. Source out some coconut or natural fibre scrub brushes, even if they do happen to get misplaced on a dark evening, and don’t make it back into your “pack it out” bag they won’t cause any harm to the environment. They will break down naturally, eventually leaving no trace.

    As a society we have a long way to go until single use plastic wrap is no longer the norm. But in the meantime be sure to take a bag with you that you can place all that single use plastic into. On your return trip if you’re passing by a Redcycle Bin you can simply pop that bag of plastic into the bin, making it one less item you need to take home.

    Whether your camping or glamping be sure to take care both on the road and care with what you’re packing in and out.


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