The work of the handful of quiet achievers at Mullum Cares is focussed specifically on supporting and promoting the growing consumer demand for conservation. In 2016, Mullum Cares initiated and co-ordinated a town-wide action called Plastic Free July. It resulted in the Mullumbimby IGA permanently removing plastic bags from the supermarket – long before others in the area caught up.
Following that came a successful crowdfunding campaign: it achieved a filtered drinking and water refill station, installed by Byron Council outside the Santos Organics shop in the heart of Mullumbimby.
In 2017, Mullum Cares got stuck into dealing with waste created at Byron Shire festivals. Its first festival operation was running a wash station at the Byron Spirit Festival. Since then, Mullum Cares has worked alone, and in partnership with Green Music Australia, at many of the large local events, initiating pioneering projects that focus on the fact that most waste to landfill is avoidable at these contained events. “What we’ve observed is that new systems and regulations are simply required to be piloted, and then implemented, to swap disposable options for reusable ones,” Sasha explains.
In July 2018, Splendour in the Grass (SITG) gave Mullum Cares the opportunity to pilot the collection and transportation of drink containers (which attract the 10 cent container deposit refund) from the North Byron Parklands to the nearest bulk container depot at the Lismore Materials Recovery Facility 60km away. “Our Mullum Cares volunteers loaded and unloaded over 130,000 bagged containers into their rented removal van and trailer, and drove to Lismore and back seven times (around 840km). This netted more than $10,000 for our Not-For-Profit community organisation,” she added.
In 2018, Keep Australia Beautiful NSW introduced a new category to their annual Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards to recognise groups making the most of the new Container Deposit Scheme called the Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award. Mullum Cares was awarded a Highly Commended in this category. As none of the group’s members was able to attend the award ceremony in Orange last November, Peter Bruce and Marta Scuccuglia, the Container Deposit Scheme’s CEO and Community Engagement Manager respectively, visited Mullumbimby in February 2019 to present the award to Mullum Cares’ Sasha Mainsbridge and Susie Forster. Max Tischler from Splendour in the Grass was invited to share in the accolades.
Sasha was chuffed to receive the prestigious award, saying: “The benefit of the deposit scheme to community groups like ours is massive. We’re so pleased that Peter and Marta will promote success stories like ours, showing the value for Mullum Cares in being able to both make money and recycle waste. Being recognised with this award is fantastic. And now we feel we’re ideally placed to continue this partnership both with SITG, and other local events.”
Here she is (centre) receiving the award, together with Max Tischler, Peter Bruce, Susie Forster and Marta Scuccuglia
In April, Sasha and Mullum Cares will launch its next cooperative ambitious and valuable community project: the establishment of a Library of Stuff. To be located inside the grounds of the Byron Community College in Mullumbimby, the Library of Stuff is a collaboration between the College, Mullum Cares, the Mullumbimby Repair Café and other groups.
It is intended that funds Mullum Cares raises via the Container Deposit Scheme will be used “not only purchase assets for our Library of Stuff, but also to purchase particular assets, like camping gear, that we know our members want. Festivals, too can benefit from this project with an additional hire service we are proposing to pilot this year.”
For more details on the Library of Stuff, look for Library of Stuff Mullumbimby on Facebook, or go to www.libraryofstuff.org.au