Last year’s Bello Winter Music was an enormous success. However, the streams of people enjoying the festivities resulted in a huge amount of waste being generated, particularly plastic cups. This is all set to change for this year’s Bello Winter Music.
A dedicated team of Bellingen locals working under the ‘Waste Not Bellingen‘ banner are waging their own ‘war on waste’. And their latest target is our winter festival. “We are working towards a waste free festival,” says Alison Heeley (pictured on left with fellow ‘Waste Notters’ Donna Sowman- centre and Mirabai Hazell).
Waste Not Bellingen is a group of dedicated change-makers who are reducing waste produced by the Bellingen community. Their strategies for the Bello Winter Music are being supported by the Bello Winter Music team, Bellingen Solar and Bellingen Brewery.
Alison has taken the time out of the hectic pre-festival schedule to chat with us about the efforts of Waste Not Bello.
Waste was a concern at last year’s Bello Winter Music Festival. Explain how Waste Not Bellingen set about changing the waste outcome for this year’s event.
Waste Not Bellingen listened to the concerns of our local community, (which echoed our concerns), about the waste produced last year. Fortunately, our work in the community hasn’t gone unrecognised- so the people came to us. After discussions with festival organisers we have produced a flyer which has been distributed to local businesses and cafes to increase their awareness about waste and to educate about ways to reduce waste production. We’ve loved chatting to local businesses and are so encouraged by their awareness around the problems of single use plastic and food waste and their willingness to do more to reduce the same.
There is also a reusable cup initiative planned for this year’s festival. Can you explain how this will work?
The Festival Bar at the Memorial Hall will be serving drinks in re-usable festival cups this year – the idea is to work towards zero plastic cup wastage in the coming years. For hot drinks, many venues around town are offering discounts if you bring your own re-usable coffee cup. And of course, we are very excited that 27 out of 28 food venues in town are going Plastic Straw Free for the festival!
What other initiatives have your team put in place to reduce waste this year?
Waste Not volunteers will be manning the recycling stations throughout the festival.
We are also producing posters to advertise which venues and cafes are plastic straw free and which are happy to provide a discount for patrons using the reusable cups.
Why are your volunteers manning the recycling stations?
We see this as an opportunity to educate festival goers about the complexities around recycling. Through our conversations with cafe workers, venues and the general public, we have become aware of the confusion around which items go into which bin. What a great opportunity to educate festival- goers about waste- minimising it and recycling it!
Waste Not Bellingen is also running a new workshop at this year’s LeaF Festival ‘Make Your Own Plastic Free Personal Products’. Can you tell us about this workshop?
Donna and I will be running this workshop. We are really looking forward to teaching participants about how easy it is to make personal care products at home. Making your own products is simple, fun to do and much cheaper. It allows you to control what goes on your body, where it comes from and the environmental impact it has. You also reduce plastic packaging because you can store your products in glass jars.
There does appear to be a ground swell of environmental initiatives happening in the community- plastic bag free at major food outlets, the war on waste, etc. Does this increased dialogue about waste issues give you a sense of optimism?
Yes!!! It shows us that we can have a huge impact and create behaviour change through education and role modelling. And this is in spite of a lack of governmental support for environmental initiatives.
Waste Not Bellingen is an initiative within the Centre for Environmental Learning (CEL). Despite the many successful projects currently under the banner of CEL, the association is having funding concerns. Lisa Siegel explains the importance of CEL to our community and why it is so important that it continues.
CEL is incorporated as a not-for-profit association and is now responsible for many local projects including the ‘Young Naturalists Club’, the Bellingen High School Community Garden, Bellingen SeedSavers and Waste Not Bellingen.
CEL’s overarching mission is “to provide Earth-based, immersive and meaningful education experiences about the natural world and our relationship with it, for both young people and adults.”
CEL provides connection and education experiences to all ages from pre-school to adults, in a wide variety of settings – and hundreds of people participate in our programs each year. The Sustainability Centre, the Learning Festival, the new Coffs Coast Science Hub – all of this would not exist without CEL’s leadership and organisation….not to mention of course our camps and progams that get children and young people out into nature, where they can be healthy and happy. And all of our programs and workshops ultimately benefit the planet. When people start feeling more connected, they are more inclined to enact positive environmental behaviour…..
If you can help CEL to keep its doors open Donate Here
Read our full interview with Lisa Siegel of CEL here.