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You are here: Home Resources Nature and Society, Journal of the Frank Fenner Foundation 2002 Nature & Society - April 2002

Nature & Society - April 2002

The Forum's Journal


The Lord of the Rings is a sensational film in the best sense. It is a powerful story played by good actors. It is the story of small, peaceful people caught up in momentous events which will shape the whole future of their world. It is about the uncomplicated simplicity coupled with unexpected heroism of these people. It is a great adventure with lots of action. And it is set in some of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery on earth.

In one analysis of the original book, the author JRR Tolkien is thought to be commenting on the humanity and decency of the folk who were living in a peaceful part of rural England, “The Shire”, who are threatened by the twin evils of industrialisation and World War I. Tolkien loved that “backward” rural area and was worried about the encroachment of the ugly industrial cities that were advancing on it. He had fought on the terrible battle fields of the Great War and was appalled by what he had seen.

The Lord of the Rings was a parable for the 20th century, probably for many centuries. The vast industrial enterprise, the pit where Saruman’s orcs laboured, devouring the forests to fuel their furnaces, may have been more like the dark satanic mills of the 19th century rather than modern ones. Still many factories are ugly places and their workers are badly treated in some countries. We still destroy forests and rip up the ground in our modern quest for power. The mighty armies marching and the blood thirsty hand to hand combat have been replaced by long distance fighting, but still we maim and slaughter.

Look back at history and you can see the story repeated so often that it is easier to ignore than to face. Look around us now, look into the future; we see more of the same. Like the hobbits it is good to get on with our own quiet life, but the evil in the world forces itself on our attention.

The central theme in the book is the recognition that something of overwhelmingly evil power, the One Ring, has been made and peace can not come to Middle Earth until the Ring has been destroyed. In our own world there is nothing as simple as a Ring of power. Certainly humans have acquired such power, power to destroy much of nature and power to destroy themselves in the process, but the power we have is not like the Ring, it is not uniformly or inevitably bad.

What we have to do is control that power, and control those who would use it badly - the power itself cannot be destroyed. We have to recognise that though we have the power to harm we also have the power to heal, although healing is much harder than harming. It is easy to destroy a forest, very hard to restore one to its original complexity. It is easy to introduce exotic species, very difficult to remove them, and usually impossible to replace lost species. It is easy to cause massive erosion, to dam rivers, destroy wetlands. To return them to their original state of equilibrium is difficult indeed. It is even easy to alter the climate of the whole world, but next to impossible to reverse that change.
In the wonderful scenery of New Zealand it is easy to see the irreversible changes caused by human power. The Maori began the process with their extinction of the Moa, those giant chickens dispatched soon after the first humans reached the Land of the Long White Cloud. Their travelling companion, the Pacific rat, undoubtedly caused havoc amongst other bird species. This is not surprising or blameworthy. No species of plant or animal, including humans, can move into a new environment without affecting the species already there. Usually that effect will be deleterious, occasionally it is beneficial.

The only native mammals in New Zealand were a couple of species of bats, but there was a rich bird fauna and the birds occupied all available niches, including those usually held by mammals. These birds suffered greatly after European settlement, after the introduction of many mammals. The rabbit was introduced and then in an effort to control it, ferrets, stoats and weasels followed. Deer were introduced for hunting. Australian possums were added in the hope of founding a fur trade. Wallabies were brought in to add a bit of cuteness and variety, Cats, of course, came with the settlers.

All these creatures, one way or another, harmed the local bird life. Ground dwelling and flightless birds fell an easy victim to introduced predators. Most of the bird species suffered even more at the paws of the possum. New Zealand turned out to be possum heaven: they loved the trees to death. They ate the leaves and flowers, depriving the birds of food and shelter. They ate the eggs and fledglings. Some species are extinct, many endangered, and the bird song that so captivated early settlers has been replaced with near silence in the forests.

The distinctive red-flowering pohutukawa and rata trees had suffered so much possum damage that Project Crimson was initiated in the 1990s. Its aim was to re-establish them through plantings, scientific research, possum control and public education. This is having some success.
There are success stories, too, in re-establishing some bird species. The Department of Conservation has become expert in eradicating rats, mice and cats from off-shore islands so that birds can be released in safe areas and begin breeding up. There are some mainland ‘islands’, securely fenced to protect their inhabitants, even a few unfenced ‘islands’ where heavy baiting is relied on to control the ferals. All these measures take heroic efforts from their human guardians.

Still there are people who cannot or will not learn. There are hunters who move deer and wallaby to new areas, to increase their hunting options, with no thought for the effect on the forest. Someone has tried to introduce the Australian Eastern Rosella in the North Island. Just as someone has introduced foxes to Tasmania, a move that could destroy several species for which Tasmania is the last refuge.

Trying to get across to everyone the need to look after what is left, to stop selfish acts that destroy, to realise that humans have so much power that if they do not control it they can irretrievably damage the world, that is the challenge for this century.

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Forthcoming NSF meetings

17 April - 7.45 pm, Heysen Street, Weston

The Australian Eco-labelling Program: a market trigger for sustainable development

Petar Johnson, President, Australian Environmental Labelling Association (AELA)

The Australian Ecolabel Program seeks to deliver to the Australian market a credible indication of the environmental performance of a product or service. By being able to recognise environmentally preferable products and services, consumers can better choose their ecological footprint and manufacturers can gain a competitive advantage on environmental performance. Environmental labelling promises to be an important market-based instrument for increasing design for environment and integrated product policy on the Australian market. Petar will present an overview of how the Ecolabelling Program works.

15 May - 7.45 pm, Heysen Street, Weston

Peter Young, Managing Director of Prime Waste Water Treatment, will talk about his company's treatment of waste water biologically, without the use of chemicals, to achieve the high standards required by Government.

19 June - 7.45 pm, Heysen Street, Weston

Anna Carr is a post-doctoral fellow at the ANU's Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies. She is the author of Grass roots and green tape: principles and practices of environmental stewardship.

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Solar Energy Technology

Jenny Wanless reports on the NSF March discussion meeting featuring a talk by Dr Andrew Blakers

It was a particular pleasure to welcome Andrew Blakers, who gave up an evening (and rode his bike to Weston?) to tell NSF members about the work of the ANU’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems.

For a start Andrew listed the environmental problems arising from the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy for electricity generation. These include resource depletion, acid rain, oil spills, local pollution in cities and warfare, either nuclear or non-nuclear. Loss of habitat and biodiversity, of course, are a result of the enhanced greenhouse effect, and in Australia fossil fuel usage causes half of our greenhouse gas emissions, and half of that is for electricity production. The other half of our greenhouse gas emissions is the result of land clearance.

Energy generation falls into four categories. In addition to fossil fuel and nuclear, there is the ‘solar’ sector and ‘other’. The latter includes tidal and geothermal. In general these are very restricted in location, and tidal can be environmentally destructive, damaging or destroying sensitive coastlines, as it would in the Kimberley region of Australia.

This leaves solar, which includes, wind, hydro, waves and ocean thermal. Wave power is not practical on a large scale, ocean thermal would have to be massive in scale and is in the wrong place. Hydro and wind power are the only good sources of indirect solar energy, but hydro can have high environmental costs (cf. Lake Pedder and China’s Three Gorges Dams). Wind is very efficient. The energy pay back time for the construction of wind generators is less than a year. They also provide the largest return by area of alienated land, far, far better than coal or nuclear, as farm animals can graze very comfortably amongst the wind mills. Some people think there is an aesthetic problem, but others do not agree.

Australia has very suitable areas for wind generation around the southern coast: wind speeds are generally higher on the coast, or off shore areas. This is important because as wind speed doubles, energy output is cubed. New Zealand is particularly suited to wind generation, but Australia is far better for it than Europe though some European countries are investing heavily in wind power. Scotland would be the best site for wind power in Europe.

For sunshine-blessed Australia direct solar energy should be the obvious electricity choice. Solar input occurs all over the continent. At present solar electricity can compete with high priced diesel generation in outback areas. The energy pay back time for photovoltaic cells is less than two years now.

There are two major solar energy research teams working in Australia to provide cheaper and more efficient technologies. A group of about sixty people is led by Martin Green at the University of NSW. Blaker’s own team at the ANU has forty plus workers divided into a Photovoltaic (PV) group and a Solar Thermal one.

Unfortunately the Government is taking little interest in solar energy and does not fund research. Money from the Greenhouse Office is only for commercialisation of products, research has to be funded by commercial interests, which is the reverse of former practices. Fortunately the company Origin Energy has a very enlightened management which funds research. Indeed Origin Energy is a good choice for ethical investment in the energy sector.

The ANU has the world’s biggest dish for solar thermochemical energy production and storage utilising ammonia disassociation and heat exchangers. Work is also progressing on Phase Change machines utilising the latent heat involved in phase changes.

Photovoltaic researchers are delighted to be seeing an exponential rise in the production of PV cells. Extrapolating from current rates we could see the whole surface of the earth covered with PV cells within 50 years. (That should please growth addicts!)

Current growth is partly due to the policies of governments in Germany and Japan, which, despite their unfavourable locations, are pushing PV installations on roofs. In Australia we could supply all the electricity we use by covering half of our roofs with PV cells.

The ANU PV team is working with BP Solar on microcrystalline silicon cells, and with Origin Energy on the Epilift process, which is reducing the amount of silicon in silicon wafers, and therefore their cost. Along with those reductions there will be a big increase in efficiency.

The team has also developed trough concentrators, using the mirror-lined insides of a trough to focus sunlight on PV cells along the focal axis of the trough. The mirrors track the sun all day, so collect maximum sunlight. Far fewer cells are needed, so the cells can be more expensive and more efficient.

On their roof at ANU, the team has installed a combined heat and power system (CHAPS), which again tracks the sun. It produces both hot water and electricity, giving a remarkable efficiency of 70 per cent. Because the hot water surface is much smaller than in existing systems, there is little heat loss. There are plans for a long trough CHAPS on the roof of Bruce Hall at ANU.

Despite the ongoing struggle to get research funding Andrew’s talk was remarkably positive. Industry is being helpful. Governments are tending to include PV systems in aid packages to less developed countries. Surely we in Australia could encourage governments to take solar energy seriously.

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Linking the Market to Sustainable Development - the Contribution of Ecolabelling

Petar Johnson

Primary to the causes of ongoing environmental degradation are the results of market operations. Specifically the production and material characteristics of products sold on the market, how they are consumed and how they are disposed. The product life cycle within Australia for many modern products has resulted in the now well established term “the throw away society”. Sustainable consumption is the term accepted by the United Nations and many governments as a policy aim underpinning many different environmental program efforts. There is now a “sustainable consumption” program by the United Nations Environment Program. Related approaches have been the arrival of a number of other concepts including Factor 4, Factor 10 and Factor 20 each arguing that sustainable consumption requires a reduction of social metabolism of our natural environment through the economy to one quarter, one tenth or correspondingly one twentieth.

Efforts to date to facilitate this type of reduction can only be classed as emerging and in trial stages within different sectors of the Australian economy. There are now a number of scientific approaches to delivering reductions in the environmental impacts of the product life cycle. These are generally known under a number of terms:

  • Cleaner Production - more energy efficient and less polluting production processes;
  • Design for Environment - a methodology used for designing products in such a way that they perform their intended function with minimal environmental impact and includes approaches such as the use of recycled materials, less use of materials, servicisation and longer life;
  • Life Cycle Analysis - a scientific approach to tracking the environmental loads of each stage of the product life cycle with precision and converting these impacts to actual loads such as biodiversity, air pollution, water pollution.
  • Eco-Efficiency - A general term for all of the above and anything else that has the effect of more efficiently using the environment along the product life cycle.
  • Product Stewardship – A management approach to the environmental and community costs of the product life cycle whereby the manufacturer of the product ensures that the products environmental and community loads are effectively ameliorated by redesigning the life cycle and/or paying for rehabilitation, waste management or community costs. It is a very broad term and can be used for anything from the massive payouts by tobacco companies to governments due to the health costs their products result onto the community to companies planting trees as a way of compensating for their greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent study completed by Environment Australia showed that the financial subsidy from the community in both financial and environmental terms amounted to over $500 million per year to the electrical and electronic appliance industry by considering only the cost to the community in disposing of this equipment, greenhouse gas emissions from the use of appliances, and some limited costings of toxicological releases from the waste. It is little recognised in Australia that similar products or product services can have very different effects on the environment depending upon how their life cycle is managed.

The value of a product life cycle environmental labelling scheme is that it allows consumers of products sold on the market to differentiate between the dirty and environmentally damaging products and those developed as greener products which should have a significantly lower environmental impact.

The International Standards Organisations has developed a standard to guide environmental labelling programs classified as ISO 14 024. The standard is a useful guide to ensure credibility, transparency and due rigor in the operation of a program. The Australian Environmental Labelling Association Inc has committed itself to delivering a national full product life ecolabelling program for Australia in general conformance to this standard. The organisation is pleased to announce that it has now issued three voluntary environmental labelling standards for adhesives, recycled plastic and recycled rubber products. The organisation is seeking expressions of interest from environmental professionals to contribute to the work program of this non-profit Canberra based organisation.

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Lessons from Malawi

“The people with the problem are the people with the solution” - Miles Horton, Highlander Center

Malawi is often described as a poor country and it is common to read in the introduction to any report on Malawi that: “Malawi is one of Africa’s poorest countries. The most recent poverty analysis of Malawi suggests that 65% of the population is poor.” Even a recent article in the Nature & Society journal (Oct/Nov 2001) titled ‘People, Planet and Debt’ had an accompanying commentary which ended by pointing to ‘desperately poor nations such as Sub-Saharan Africa’. The authors rightfully pointed to the many destructive aspects of the loan systems such as those that the IMF and World Bank are providing to governments, and I agree it is the heavy focus on money which is causing many of our current problems, but I don’t agree that Malawi is desperately or ‘woefully’ poor. Most people in Malawi didn’t think they were poor until foreigners came here and told them they were. Prior to the arrival of the foreigners, communities used what they needed from the environment and traded what they had with other communities who had different things or different skills.

The poverty label that the ‘developed’ world has placed on the ‘developing’ nations is extremely detrimental to the self-sufficiency that could be taking place if solutions, not problems were the focus. One of the biggest barriers I’ve seen to improving lives is a focus on what is not available, instead of what is available. This is putting so much focus on income and money that the non-cost resources right around us are overlooked, in fact they are even destroyed in the name of making money instead of being protected and utilized in the name of health & prosperity! This is not to say that money has no importance within most societies around the world, as today many bartering systems have been replaced with a monetary system of exchange. But the financial cost of living varies greatly in each area of the world and in many of the developing nations the financial cost of living is often very low – and in some areas it is non-existent.

A large part of my work with nutrition and HIV has focused on dispelling the recent myth of poverty in Malawi and reminding people of the wealth of resources in Malawi that can supply everything we need. It involves an exciting way of thinking that reverses the negative, problem-oriented view of looking at what we don’t have to a more positive, solution-oriented view of looking at what we do have, and how those resources can be utilized to meet our needs. With this focus, a new set of eyes, and creativity, riches are suddenly seen everywhere. It isn’t a skill that develops overnight, but the more it develops and the more we learn, the more riches can be found. Once we are making the most out of all of our resources and are fulfilling our basic needs, then we can branch out more and more to identify other opportunities to improve our community’s well-being and to teach others to do the same.


Many development organizations focus on improving health of populations and collectively spend millions of dollars on importing medicines, health care systems, training, food aid, nutrient supplements & fortification, etc. But inside each of our bodies we have a free built-in health system to defend us from diseases that try to enter and to heal us from the ones which do make it in; this system is the immune system. People and communities with strong immune systems are able to prevent and fight many of the diseases which can afflict weaker bodies. To work properly, the immune system must have the nutrients it needs to fight, in addition to other factors like rest. In order to improve nutrition, we have to provide the body with a variety of different foods. But the food that people eat is only as healthy as the soil that it is grown in and, just like humans, the soil becomes unhealthy if it is ‘eating’ only one type of food. The soil needs a wide variety of organic matter returning to it to get all of the nutrients that it needs. This variety of organic matter can only be obtained when people are planting and growing many different things—not just one or two. As the soil improves and the organic matter is present, it also helps to allow water to sink into the ground. Water is filtered as it passes through the different layers of the earth, so that by the time it reaches our drinking water it should be free from bacteria and other things that cause illnesses. We refer to these connections as ‘The Cycle of Better Living”:
• when we have healthy soil through having a variety of plants and animals,
• it gives us healthier food and clean drinking water;
• healthier food and water give us better nutrition;
• better nutrition helps to strengthen our immune systems;
• when our immune systems are strong it helps to protect us from disease and stay healthy.

What do we have to do to improve nutrition?

Food security is generally measured by the amount of a few staple crops (often only one grain) that are available to meet a population’s calorie needs. This is unfortunate as this says nothing for nutrition security, which depends on a variety of different foods from several food groups in order to meet calorie needs. The emphasis that is placed on increasing the yields of one staple crop often results in: a diet that is low in nutrients; soil infertility; high chemical & labor input farming; higher risk of crop failures from weather, diseases and insects; destruction of natural areas for crop expansion; decreasing & contaminated water supplies; increased food aid, supplementation and fortification; and time-consuming, expensive research into problems, such as genetic engineering.

In Malawi the emphasis for about the last 50 years has been on maize, a crop which is not even native to the culture. Before maize, Malawi’s environment and diet revolved around a wide variety of local fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, millets, sorghums, roots, and various animal foods. Although many of these foods are still available, they are vanishing quickly because of the push to supply maize year-round either by forcing the land to produce it or by bringing in maize aid when the environment is unable to meet our maize demands. Maize is not the only culprit, people are becoming more interested in obtaining the foods of the west than in giving attention to the abundance of foods right around them. Expatriates who come in to ‘help’ often never take the time to learn about these valuable food resources that are already here. These local foods that are being crowded out by maize and western foods are often higher in nutrients than western foods, are available with no work or money, and are delicious! There are over 500 foods available in Malawi that are able to meet all the nutritional needs of people living here and we are trying to revive the knowledge and use of these plants as part of the diet. Even food aid and nutrition supplement programs can be provided in the form of local resources instead of focusing on the intake of one or two items. In Malawi it is feasible to provide calories in the form of local pumpkins, gourds, beans, nuts, seeds, insects, fruits, roots, etc. as part of an aid package when disaster interferes with the food supply, and micronutrient sources are in abundance through local fruits and vegetables. By including a wide variety of foods in our environment we can have better food & nutrition security, in addition to healthy soil, plants and animals.

What about disease treatment?

With the current health system, there is a lot of emphasis on medical treatments which are imported into developing nations instead of focusing on the supplies which are already available in country. Medicinal treatments have been a part of the Malawian culture for centuries, and there is a lot of accurate and inaccurate information about the cause and treatments of diseases. Around the world more people are taking heed of this knowledge, including in Malawi, to identify the accurate treatments and to promote them as part of treating diseases or symptoms. In some places, traditional and non-traditional systems are coming together to share expertise, such as western clinics offering herbal remedies or supporting traditional healers in disease identification, and traditional healers are coming together to form associations for advocacy and research documentation. Development programs can come together with each other to focus on local knowledge and assist to document & promote local medicine resources, then assist in the logistics of making them available in a safe manner to wider audiences.

What have we done?

We have been collecting plants, learning about them, sharing the seeds, teaching about their importance in nutrition and the environment, using them in our own meals, and encouraging their use for anyone living in Malawi – but not as a job, as our life! In our first two years here we established over 100 different local foods in one small half-acre plot, in addition to other plants that can be used for fuels, medicines, and building materials. Each year we have been able to add to our collection and knowledge and to establish a few more things. As of last year, we had about 150 different foods in the yard, along with numerous medicines and other supplies. We are in the process of adding up the figures for this year’s yields. The yields from this system are continuous (unlike a monocropped system with yields once a year), and our yields are also increasing every year as new trees reach maturity and more of the soil is improved to support more life.
Many places in Malawi are now establishing similar permanent gardens utilizing the principles of a way of living known as Permaculture (coined from “permanent culture or agriculture”), and taking advantage of the riches which we have here. People are utilizing grey water from washing clothes, dishes, or bathing; using water at the end of wells where water often sits in a large puddle; putting organic matter to use instead of burning it; reducing the amount of clearing that is done; observing what nature has to offer and using it wisely; and incorporating local varieties of foods and medicines along with the conventional system that is in place. Everyone is the target audience for this way of thinking and people from all walks of life in Malawi have grasped the ideas and understood the importance of using what we have available around us to the fullest potential - individuals, government ministers, business people, health centres, nutrition rehabilitation units, people living with HIV/AIDS, schools, expatriates, locals, wildlife & environmental organizations – and the list goes on.

We all have a part to play in improving the world and our thoughts, words and actions can have a lot of impact on the world around us. If we each begin thinking about local solutions to problems, and teach others to do the same, we can all make this world a much better place.

Stacia Nordin, RD
HIV/AIDS Crisis Corps Coordinator
PO Box 208, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa

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What Canberra Needs to Do to Become Sustainable

Janis Birkeland and John Schooneveldt, members of Nature and Society Forum’s Sustainability Science Team, spoke on the work they are doing for the ACT Government’s Planning and Land Management (PALM) at the February Meeting.

The ACT Government, like all governments in Australia, has a commitment to “sustainable development” but is having difficulty (which they would never admit) in translating this commitment into appropriate policies and action. Nature and Society Forum was commissioned by PALM to look specifically at a technique known as “materials flows analysis” (MFA) and what it can do to assist urban planners in making the built environment more ecologically sustainable.

Janis and John illustrated their talk with a power point presentation that Janis uses in her teaching. The result of their work was to propose three criteria/indicators which are both design criteria (ie future-looking decision making tools) and performance indicators (ie past assessment/ research tools). Combining these two conceptually different ideas into a single tool is a novel feature of their approach.

The three criteria/indicators are:

Resource autonomy: where individual buildings (or small clusters of them) are designed to be self sufficient in temperature maintenance, air quality, ventilation, rainwater, lighting and energy requirements and general operational performance.

Material renewability/reusability: where only materials are used that are reusable or renewable, but not recyclable (recycling involves reprocessing and high embodied energy).

Ecosystem services maintenance: where the building and its immediate surrounds are designed to maintain the same level of ecosystem services after development as was available before development. This might involve restricting the building’s footprint and other impervious surfaces, including roof top and/or balcony gardens, conservatories and other plantings or combinations of these. Where this is not possible on a specific site, additional rates should be paid to meet the cost of providing the equivalent level of eco-system services elsewhere.

More work is needed on ways of applying these criteria/indicators in practice, but Janis and John argued that they were a start and if implemented fully would ensure the sustainability of the built environment as such. It would not address the unsustainable things some people choose to carry on within that sustainable infrastructure, but that is a topic for another occasion.

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Going for Zero - The Majors Creek Music Festival

Gerry Gillespie, President Canberra and South East Region Environment Centre

Majors Creek is a small former gold mining community located on the very edge of the escarpment south of Braidwood in NSW. Every year the community holds “Music at the Creek”, a music festival which attracts an audience from the surrounding community of Braidwood in Tallaganda Shire, the adjacent Canberra region and a legion of festival followers from all over Australia.

This years the organisers of the event decided to attempt something which had never been achieved before – they were attempting to have no waste go to landfill. The outcome? They achieved it. During this year's annual Majors Creek Music Festival, not one piece of waste went to landfill. All recyclable materials produced at the event were sent off to recycling markets, all food waste and packaging was placed in a windrow to be composted and used around trees in the town's recreation grounds, and the remaining mixed plastics and foils were used as aggregate in a concrete slab in a wet area, outside the hall.

The festival attendance this year was around 4,000 with approximately 3,000 people camping on the site. Campers were provided with a small bin for their organic waste which was taken after meals to larger bins placed around the site.

The express purpose was to demonstrate that achieving a Zero Waste target at such an event was achievable. Zero Waste to Landfill can be achieved at any event through the modification of a basic system that caters for all waste materials, despite the fact that differences exist between the various factors in effect at any given event. There may be a need to change packaging, information, processing and handling to suit the event but the principal change needs to occur in the minds of those conducting the event. The creation of a Zero Waste to Landfill event required all those involved to stretch both their abilities and imaginations to achieve the desired outcome.

Research showed that notable levels of recycling have been achieved at previous public events. It was also found that at some events in other areas, in order to attend the event, organisers required stallholders to use only recyclable products as packaging for their foods and beverages.

This had not been the case previously at Majors Creek Festivals, so a considerable mind shift was required of the organisers, the recyclers, the stallholders and all in attendance to deliver the desired outcome.

In addition to making this year’s “Music at the Creek” a Zero Waste to Landfill event, Resource NSW, who managed the Zero Waste system, also wanted to create a rural model, packaged so as to be readily transferred to any similar event in the area. To do this required accurate recording of all the positive and negative outcomes and the development of a full equipment ‘kit’. It was important to identify any potential or transferable faults and their potential to sidetrack any future application of the ‘kit’ as it moved from community to community.

The next event ‘going for zero’ will be the Cobargo Music Festival to be held February, then the Braidwood Show, the Back to Earth Fair in Cooma and the National Folk Festival in Canberra.

With the correct sponsor for the Recycling Lids used for collection of materials, going for zero may well become the norm at public events.

Editor's note: Now the National Folk Festival is over, The Canberra Times reported (1/4/02) that the amount of material sent for recycling this year was about double the nine tonnes recycled last year.

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