Business

Cirrus Fine Coffee

There's a coffee roaster in Port Melbourne that are doing more than just serve up delicious cups of caffeine goodness. Cirrus Fine Coffee want to serve up delicious cups of caffeine goodness whilst operating at the forefront of sustainable business practices.

It’s evident in their passion for compostable packaging, their commitment to upcycled coffee machines, their willingness to grow and use their own, their dedication to use and distribute coffee grounds to fertilise farms, community gardens and their own veggie patch.

In November 2018 they converted a car space into a pop up farm. They set themselves a target of growing 300 kg of vegetables in a year, which according to World Health Organisation is enough to feed two adults for a year. Using wicking beds and coffee grounds to turbo charge the soil, they achieved that in half the time.

They are passionate about using the organic waste and excess space that exist in urban spaces to grow organic vegetables. Keep on sowing those sustainable seeds.

Dugald; Tree Boat Builder Extraordinaire

I went along to pick my son up from primary school last month and stumbled across the unveiling of a tree boat. This was my first run in with a tree boat and I was impressed. It’s a charming little vessel built with lashings of love by tree boat builder extraordinaire, Dugald Jellie.

The boat offers any children that are feeling lost, uncertain or unsure a safe place to journey to wherever their imaginations will take them. A dependable, inclusive and durable ship for all to sail.

The thing I loved most about this ship was its origins. All her joists and bearers are hardwood, all salvaged. Every one of her deck boards is recycled rainforest timbers, each rescued from landfill.  

Dugald is no usual tree boat builder, he’s an environmentalist tree boat builder with a big heart. He builds all manner of visionary solutions for local schools and kindergartens outdoor spaces; reuse, creativity and care are always central to his vision. 

Whatever is requested; whether it’s treehouses, play areas, wicking beds, toilet doors, paving, planting, awnings or shelters, Dugald comes up with a solution bursting with imagination and recycled materials he’s plucked from skips, hard rubbish or donations.

Giving them a new life, a much better life, and hoping that the message of reuse and reducing consumption will trickle down to the children and the local community.

Fox Hay Timber and Hardware

“For most businesses the primary factor for most big decisions is to keep operating costs down. Sustainability is a nice bonus”.

This is what Director of Fox Hay Timber and Hardware in Port Melbourne, Bruce Fox, had to say about his motivation for installing a 12 kw solar system and upgrading to LED lights. These two decisions alone have halved their energy costs.

Three and a half years ago Bruce was approached by a solar provider and offered a 5 year plan to pay off a 12kw solar system. After checking that the numbers made sense he went ahead with the instal and is still smiling about it now. They have another year and a half until they have paid it off, they will then own the system and the savings will increase.

Two years ago Bruce was told by his mechanic about a free upgrade to energy efficient LED lighting available through the Victorian Energy Upgrades Program. “What’s the catch?” Bruce was delighted to find out that there wasn’t one and went ahead with the installation. “We’ve had no issues in terms of their maintenance and the bulbs actually give off a brighter light which suits our business needs”.

The financial impact of these two sustainability choices has resulted in an annual saving of approximately $3,500; throw in the reduction in emissions, lower maintenance costs, greater energy independence, and you understand why he asks, “why on earth are more businesses not making these choices?”

Although the motives for our sustainability choices are often different the impact is the same; lower operating costs and improved environmental outcomes.

Baenziger Coles Architects

Architecture and sustainability have always been intertwined, but the trend has shifted as developers put more and more emphasis on profits. The industry, and indeed that planet, needs firms that buck that trend and Baenziger Coles does just that. An architect firm based in South Melbourne they have a focus on sustainable design that has seen them scoop the CitySwitch* Green Office Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018 – quite the hot streak.

“Architects have a responsibility to embed sustainability into their designs”. This is the view of Baenziger Coles Director, Sue Coles. In doing so they are influencing the work of their building contractors, clients and indeed their own staff of ten; whether they’re encouraging builders to reuse surplus materials from a previous build, designing light fittings that are sealed so the heat doesn’t escape into the roof or having a sustainability suggestion jar in their office where employees can make a case for a new internal practice.

What they’ve found is that there is an appetite for sustainability, it just needs to be offered and if necessary, explained. They don’t just encourage others to operate sustainably, they lead by example. Their office has achieved a 5.5 star NABERS** rating and are chasing the maximum 6 star rating. Employees are encouraged to put an extra layer of clothing on if they’re cold, rather than use the heating. Delivery boxes are flat packed, stored and reused when the moment arises.

Sue is passionate about the education of student architects and the lack of emphasis that is put on designing with sustainability in mind. If you’d like to understand more about design and sustainability Sue has very generously offered to share her perspective.

*Baenziger Coles have been part of CitySwitch since 2010. CitySwitch is a free program helping commercial office tenants around Australia to:

  • Enhance energy efficiency and reduce costs

  • Manage energy price increases and mitigate business risks

  • Work towards a carbon positive future

  • Reduce waste

  • Improve the health and productivity of employees.

Find out how CitySwitch can help your business to save money and operate more sustainably.

**A NABERS rating (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) can be used to measure a building’s energy efficiency, carbon emissions, as well as the water consumed, the waste produced and compare it to similar buildings. A NABERS rating help you to understand your impact and begin the journey to reducing it and contributing to a healthier environment.

If you’re a business in Port Phillip and you want to share your sustainability journey or start one, contact us at enviro@portphillip.vic.gov.au

Globe International

Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impacts. Wanting to address their organic waste Globe International, a Port Phillip based skateboard brand, installed a worm farm and veggie patch on a disused plot at their head office and made it available to staff. They planted a seed and it grew.

Environmental and Social Responsibility Manager, Jason Boulter, has been pleasantly surprised by staff response to the two new additions, “We ended up with more volunteers to care for the worms than we could cope with. We have a worm waitlist”. They now have a fully functioning worm farm that is coping with all their organic waste, a thriving veggie patch that staff are using to freshen up their salads.

Perhaps more surprising is the impact it’s had on staff. It’s brought people together from different departments. It’s inspired some to start worm farming at home and others to get back into composting. People are found chatting around the veggie patch and taking little breaks that put a smile on their faces and break up their working day.

Local cafes have heard about the worm farm and veggie patch and enquired about bringing their coffee grounds to be used as compost. Globe are now considering adding more farms and patches to accommodate the local community. They also provide staff with access to e-waste and soft plastic recycling, Jason has noticed that people are now bringing their waste from home and using this service.

So there you have it, a humble worm farm and veggie patch has made a real difference, not only to environmental outcomes but to the wellbeing of a team and community. They are now looking at their improving their energy efficiency and their long term goal is to move towards operating as a zero waste organisation, incorporating packaging and products.

Globe International are one of 13 businesses taking part in City of Port Phillip’s Smart Solutions for Businesses Program. The Program supports local businesses to operate smarter, greener and more sustainably. The worm farm and veggie patch were installed by Worm Lovers with a comprehensive handover to ensure both are happy and healthy.

If you’re a business in Port Phillip and you want to share your sustainability journey or start one, contact us at enviro@portphillip.vic.gov.au

Albert Park Kindergarden

I never used to like dropping my son off at childcare. I would say goodbye with a reassuring hug and a big smile but I never felt comfortable with it. It’s a big deal to trust somebody else with your child. Today I visited Albert Park Kinder (APK), a Seedlings centre, and met the Director, Jenny Whelan. We spoke all things education, sustainability and life. She gave me a tour of the centre and I got to meet some of the children. After meeting Jenny, the other educators and the kids, I left feeling reassured that I would have fet very comfortable about dropping my son off at APK.

Jenny grew up in The Otways, surrounded by pristine forest, rolling hills and bird song. She calls it the most beautiful place in the world. She’s carried that love of nature with her ever since. It’s that love, that with the help of her team, has helped to fuel the transformation of Albert Park Kinder from an also ran to a sustainability leader. 

I saw photos that showed how the outside space has been transformed over the past five years to the now vibrant, colourful home to plants, flowers and worm farms, that mesmerises the kids. Verity McLucas, the Seedlings Program Manager, shows me an impressive graph highlighting Albert Park’s ever decreasing use of gas, electric and water.  

I’m delighted to find out that it isn’t the educators that read the meters, it’s the children themselves invested in trying to get ever smaller numbers. In one year they reduced their water consumption by 64 per cent, electricity by 24 per cent and their gas by 76 per cent. On 7 June 2018 they took another step towards realising their dream of carbon neutrality when they turned off their gas. They now use a combination of solar energy, battery storage and green power.

The Kindergarten’s commitment was further demonstrated when they employed their own Sustainability Officer. Camille worked in close partnership with our own Brett Hedger to lead embedding sustainability throughout the curriculum, whilst chipping away to reduce their energy use, water consumption and waste.  When Camille moved on to a new role earlier this year, the service recognised there wasn’t a need to employ a new Sustainability Officer because under Camille’s guidance and leadership, the baton was picked up by all the other staff, the vision had trickled down not only to the kids but to all staff too.

Sustainability at Albert Park Kinder is not there simply to dazzle prospective new parents or to pad out their curriculum. It’s about inspiring the next generation to take care of their planet. The staff recognise that children already have a curiosity for the natural world, all they have to do is not get in the way of it. From purchasing non-toxic paints and working with Indigenous experts to design a Bush Tucker garden to installing solar panels and disconnecting their gas, sustainability and a love for our planet is evident throughout.

When I ask Jenny for an example of something she has seen or heard from the children, to highlight the importance of what they are doing, she recalls the time a four-year-old girl told her she was going to paint love. She drew a beautiful big red heart and out of the top was growing a plant. I immediately understood why this was the moment that sticks in Jenny’s memory, we share the view that love and sustainability are inseparable.

The Source Bulk Foods

THE SOURCE BULK FOODS 171 CARLISLE STREET, BALACLAVA

On 2012 Paul and Emma Medeiros left the corporate world behind them in search of a sea change in Byron Bay. In 2012 Source Bulk Foods was born out of a desire to create a waste free shopping experience. Stocking an array of bulk wholefoods and health foods, the concept has been a big success and stores are now spread across Australia. 

In March 2017 City of Port Phillip scored its first Source Bulk Foods store in Balaclava. As well as popping in for some tasty lunch time treats, we thought we’d go and meet store manager Georgia Corbett to talk The Source and sustainability. I asked Georgia to come up with 10 sustainability measures they employ, she went two better and provided 12. 

  1. Customers being able to buy as much or as little as required reduces the amount of produce wasted.
  2. Suppliers are asked to change over the containers when new deliveries are made in a bid to minimise waste.
  3. Ordering in bulk minimises product packaging and waste.
  4. There are no plastic bags, customers are encouraged to reuse their own jars, bottles and containers.
  5. Selling products that aim to reduce waste – stainless steel straws, keep cups, tote bags, beeswax wrapping, stainless steel water bottles, bamboo toothbrushes, jute bags and much more.  
  6. Reusing large hessian sacks that products arrive in, as bin liners or other storage solutions.
  7. Excess containers and packaging is offered to customers for reuse.
  8. Offering zero waste masterclasses to educate consumers to make the right choices 
  9. Giving $2 from every water bottle purchased to either Water Aid, who work hard towards providing clean drinking water for all, or to Sea Shepherd, who work hard to stop illegal fishing and whaling.
  10. Acting mindfully around energy use - ensuring lights, heating and cooling are only used when necessary.
  11. Spreading the message around zero waste shopping, far and wide through our social media channels, it’s a big focus for us.
  12. Where possible we source local, biodynamic, insecticide free, organic products.

We love being in the City of Port Phillip and how passionate people are about sustainability and reducing plastic. We're always up for a chat with those who are passionate like us. We have an unwavering vision that together we can make a difference and reduce packaging waste in Australia.

Get along to The Source Bulk Foods at 171 Carlisle Street in Balaclava and enjoy a more sustainable, waste free, shopping experience.