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Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Reducing waste at Mt Hotham

The following update on efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish going into landfill at Mt Hotham comes from the Resort Management Board:

‘Hotham’s pristine environment is a key reason people visit year after year, and it’s the responsibility of the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board (MHARMB) to protect this precious place. Over the past two decades MHARMB has worked to reduce the amount of rubbish exiting the resort into landfill. From 2002 to 2010 an active recycling program saw the amount of collected compacted recyclables double, and from 2010 to 2017 the amount of annual waste sent to landfill reduced by 112.5 tonnes.

The Chaser’s War on Waste has helped bring the issue of waste and its impact on the environment to the notice of everyone, but Australia continues to be to among the most wasteful nations in the developed world. However, Hotham is doing its bit in this battle and even as visitation grows year on year, the resort continues to reduce the amount of rubbish it puts into landfill.

Here on the mountain, MHARMB provides transparent red bags for municipal waste, clear bags for recycling and ‘Livin Bin’ green containers with opaque compostable liners for organics and food waste. In winter garbage is collected every day, with all waste from around the mountain taken to the recycling shed where it is sorted. The transparent red bags recently replaced opaque black bags to allow collection staff to identify and remove any items that can be recycled rather than be placed in landfill.

The empty plastic bags and all cardboard is baled and recycled by the garbage team, while co-mingled recycle items are sent to Tambo Waste near Bairnsdale. General trash is sent to the resort’s landfill site at Cobungra, while food waste is put in skips until full and are then delivered to the Cobungra facility to be composted. The compost is then used for revegetation programs.

Batteries are taken by MHARMB too (via collection bin in the MHARMB office), and cigarette butts are collected from butt bins; both are sent for recycling while the resort’s hard waste collection has recently expanded to include e-waste. Additionally, foam boxes are collected, stored and at the end of the ski season taken to Albury Transfer Station where they are chipped and melted into blocks for reuse – last year half a tonne of foam left the resort.

Bev Lawrence David FThese are the main collection streams on the mountain but there are also many other items gathered and recycled by individuals, lodges and even Hotham Kids Club. Many of these initiatives have been kickstarted by MHARMB’s Environmental Officer Bev Lawrence (pictured here at the recent Backcountry Festival), a local icon who is passionate about reducing waste to preserve our fragile environment.

“Landfill is filling up and if we don’t slow it we’re just going to go under with rubbish. If something can be recycled or reused rather than being put into the ground – great,” Bev said. “People who get involved in recycling tend to see the long-term picture and the garbage team here at Hotham is really passionate and very committed to what they do.”

Bev says people often don’t believe the effort the resort goes to reduce solid waste and to dispel any myths, she runs tours of the recycling shed for anyone wanting to learn more. If you are interested in a tour of the Hotham recycling centre you can email Bev at environmental@mthotham.com.au.

 

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How the outdoor industry supported #ClimateStrike

In the last few days, millions of people from around the world marched to demand serious action on climate change. While the climate strikes were initiated and led by students, people from all walks of life joined in. From First Nations people to unionists, a huge cross section of society were out and on the streets. Girls in Afghanistan, school students in Uganda, small rural communities and more than 2,600 businesses in Australia alone.

As we know, climate change poses an existential threat to wild landscapes across the planet. So how did the outdoor community, and the businesses that rely on a healthy outdoor environment support the strike?

For me, a local standout was the climate strike event organised at Mt Hotham in the Victorian Alps. While ski resorts in Australia have been slow to act on emissions, change is slowly coming and this community-led initiative gives me hope.

What else happened?

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Thredbo is powered by Renewable Energy

Climate change poses an existential threat to winter as we know it. It  is already having a negative impact on Australia’s mountain ranges (for instance, snow pack has been in decline since the late 1950s). It will also impact on the businesses that rely on good winter snow. At present the Australian snow industry generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people. Yet under current greenhouse scenarios, climate change could cut Australia’s ski season by more than two months. If we don’t start to slow down climate change, it means the end of skiing as we currently know it.

There are three response which are required to this threat if ski resorts want to have a hope of long term viability: they need to act to mitigate (or reduce) their greenhouse gas emissions). They need to adapt to the changes that are already locked in (for instance through investing in snow making equipment or highlighting their ‘green season’ activities). And hopefully they will also use their business and political power by advocating for all levels of government to take meaningful action on climate change.

In what is being described as ‘an Australian snow industry first’ (1), Thredbo resort in NSW has announced that it has signed a deal that will ensure that ‘all its major resort operations are now powered by renewable energy’ provided by Red Energy.

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All About Solar expo – Bright

14 and 15 June

Sustainable Upper Ovens is running an expo event on 14 & 15 June in Bright, and it’s for anyone interested in solar – residents with panels, residents without panels, renters and business owners. It will be an event where you can come and get all the information you need to install panels and batteries, maintain your panels, and understand how you can benefit from solar even if you can’t install panels.

There will be experts and displays on hand to answer all your questions.

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Please make a submission to the VIC alpine resorts strategic plan

The Victorian Alpine Resorts Coordinating Council (ARCC) is developing a new alpine resorts strategic plan entitled “Alpine Resorts Strategic Plan (2019) – responding to a changing climate”. The preparation of an Alpine Resorts Strategic Plan is a requirement under the Alpine Resorts (Management) Act 1997 and will be informed by the review of the existing Alpine Resorts Strategic Plan, completed by Council in 2017.

You can make a submission to this process. But time is short, with the submission process closing on March 19.

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RePete Goods – reducing impact in the wilderness

RePete is a great new local initiative based in Canberra which aims to help make environmental best practice the easy choice when managing waste when travelling in the wilderness. RePete has launched their debut product, the ROW bags (recycling, organics, waste), which is a system of three reusable, lightweight and durable bags that enable optimal waste management in the backcountry.

You can read a background, and purchase the bags, here.

#VoteTheOutdoors

The outdoor recreation community is huge. The outdoor recreation industry is equally large, employing many thousands of people and generating billions of dollars of economic activity each year (the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people).

Yet the outdoor industry, taken as a whole, remains curiously silent on key issues like park protection, threats to wild areas and climate change. There are a few standouts, like Patagonia, but generally they’re missing in action on the key issues of our time.

Not so in the USA, where the election of the anti environment Trump administration has radically heightened the already active outdoor sector. With the mid term elections happening soon, which will have enormous implications for the balance of power in both houses of federal government (and hence Trump’s ability to implement his negative agenda), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has launched an impressive  #VoteTheOutdoors campaign to mobilise people concerned about climate and protecting wild nature.

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REI: ‘our electricity has been 100% renewable since 2013’

In terms of outdoor retail stores in the USA, REI has an enormous influence. This is both good and bad: it’s ubiquitous presence and huge buying power can threaten smaller, locally owned businesses. On the other hand, it is a co-op which shares benefits back to members, supports some good outdoors initiatives, and provides affordable gear to millions of people.

REI has also taken some significant steps to reduce its environmental impact and has recently released an interesting update on it’s efforts to source all it’s electricity from renewable sources.

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Thredbo Dedicates a Weekend to Environmental Awareness, Sustainability & Education

Some significant announcements from Thredbo resort:

  • Thredbo Announces 100% of its lifting and snowmaking electricity will be offset for winter 2018 thanks to a unique partnership with Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project (ALFA)
  • POW Australia to launch with a Hike to Kozzie and an information night lead by international free-skiing legend and POW board member Chris Davenport in Thredbo
  • To support National Tree Day (Sunday 29 July) Thredbo will be encouraging all guests to offset their journey emissions by matching all guest tree purchases / donations over the weekend thanks to Thredbo’s vehicle offset partnership with Greenfleet

Continue reading “Thredbo Dedicates a Weekend to Environmental Awareness, Sustainability & Education”

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