Continuing our series on activities and businesses on Gateway Island on the Lincoln Causeway we drop in to the Sustainable Activity Centre located in the former Albury Wodonga Tourist Information Centre and talk to founder, Claire Greenhalgh.
Bachelor of Science graduate, Claire Greenhalgh, had conducted environmental audits for large companies and small households, and decided to open the Sustainable Activity Centre (SAC) with the aim of engaging with and promoting anything that is good for the environment.
“I found what was missing was that central hub point and cross exchange of products and services and suitability and action and that’s why I started the SAC,” Claire said.
“He is what I would classify as an ecowarrior in retail with the power and the intention to do better”
She said her background as a migrant had also influenced her decision to live by the mantra of the centre’s motto, Smarter Choices for a Better Future.
“I came here from Zimbabwe with just a suitcase in the mid 80’s with my family and learnt how to live with almost nothing,” she said.
But, she said she had underestimated the capacity and the need for the centre.
“I have been overwhelmed at how it has blossomed in different directions and grown organically. Some things I hadn’t imagined might grow have been very successful, while others that I thought would have grown have petered out,” Claire said.
Regular events including Repair Café, free movie and discussion nights, toy swaps, school holiday activities and more recently the Boomerang Bags project, mean the centre open Wednesday to Saturday, is a hive of activity.
“Boomerang Bags is a great project to bring people together and at the same time contribute in a practical way to decrease and ultimately do away with single use plastic bags.
“There is already legislation to ban single use plastic bags in most states and territories, but NSW and Victoria are lagging behind. We’ve just incorporated Boomerang Bags Albury Wodonga and Surrounds in readiness for the transition in these states.”
On the evening Border Café dropped in, stations for cutting out the bags and handles, sewing machines and an ironing board were at optimum use to create the bags. There was a buzz in the centre as fabrics were cut, ironed, sewn and ultimately 18 bags were completed on the night with 27 needing some finishing off and another 55 cut out.
“Our group is one of 100 groups – tribes of people getting together, having fun, chatting and laughing and making bags that will help contribute to the changeover to get rid of plastic bags,” Claire said.
Claire said Indigo Shire Council was looking at banning plastic bags ahead of the legislative ban, and there was an order for 500 bags from local IGA owner, Bob Mathews initially for his Jindera store where plastic bags won’t be available from May 1, with the bags being phased in at his other stores in East Albury, Stanthorpe, Leeton and Howlong.
“He’s invested quite a bit of time, energy and effort in educating his staff at the Jindera store, surveyed his customers to see what he can do to make that transition easier. He is what I would classify as an ecowarrior in retail with the power and the intention to do better.
“We need to stockpile the Boomerang Bags, but we hope to see a branch open in Jindera soon.”
Another project Claire is interested in promoting is the 333 Project created by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less. The project which involves people choosing 33 items of clothing, jewellery, outer wear and shoes to wear for three months.
“This project highlights the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. Fast fashion is an ecological problem, and the fashion industry has reached its peak. Third world countries are turning our shopping container loads full of clothes back because they have enough.
They don’t need our rubbish and the garments we give to them are poorly made, they don’t last and they can only use them for rags and it’s clogging up their system.”
Claire said Project 333 was a call to arms for people who want to make a pledge and a commitment to consciously change the way they look at fashion and the way they wear clothes and buy clothes and ensure that their wardrobe isn’t an opulent mess that’s waiting to destroy the Third World.
However, she does acknowledge that it’s not easy.
“I did try it over summer and failed. But, I’d like to make a concerted effort for winter and hope others might join me,” she said.
For dates and details of all of the SAC’s activities visist: www.sustainableactivitycentre.com.au