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Culture / Oct 2018

Guide: Ten Local Heroes

Here are ten top companies we love who love the environment.


The Locals Market

Since 2013, Talia Smith has run a produce and flower market, at first atop her mum’s apartment rooftop in Potts Point but now atop our very own Paramount House. Before this she was a chef, and was relentlessly disheartened at how hard it was to source local produce. “I really wanted to personally connect with farmers and know where to find what I wanted, the dream being to buy some land one day and grow my own.” Thus, the launch of The Local Harvest Collective, which takes online orders for beautifully packed calico bags of fresh fruit and vegetables, all sourced directly from local Sydney farmers and ready for pick up on Saturday mornings. True to the cause, customers only receive one calico bag at the start and must remember to bring it back each week!

Pocket City Farms

An unused former bowling green in Camperdown became an urban farm two years ago, and now the non-profit group behind it are on a roll. Whether it’s a spare plot or a rooftop, if there’s a neglected space in Sydney, Pocket City Farms will use it for local sustainable food production. Camperdown Commons is not only a working farm, it’s a community hub where you can volunteer, compost or even do a yoga class; the aim being that educating Sydneysiders on food sustainability is as important as growing fresh organic produce.


Planet Furniture

Surry Hills’ gorgeous furniture store on Commonwealth Street is not just a mecca for interior style. Soon after furniture designer Ross Longmuir realised his vision in the 1990s, Planet became known as a pioneer of solid Australian timber production furniture. Before it was a buzzword, ‘sustainable’ described Longmuir’s statement natural fibres and handcrafting, and that focus of ecological responsibility continues today.

Be An Unfucker

The name is hard to forget and that’s intentional: Be an Unfucker strives to move us beyond convenient amnesia when it comes to protecting our planet. Caroline Shields and Vanessa Morrish were a copywriter and art director at an advertising agency in Sydney when they met. now they’re “fighting apathy one helpful eco hint at a time”. The website is prolific in its social media output and feels like a digital version of a cartoon shoulder angel, springing into action as you inadvertently contaminate your recycling with a compostable.

Compost Revolution

In six years this online platform has grown to become Australia’s largest community of composters and worm farmers with over 34,000 households joining the revolution to date. Developed by David Gravina and now working with around 31 councils across four states (it started in the Eastern Suburbs), the site features tutorials and an integrated ordering system that delivers composting products with subsidies of up to 80 per cent off recommended retail prices. The process allows councils to offer residents a full-service online composting program (typically a costly initiative). It’s estimated that founding Eastern Suburbs councils are now saving $100,000 net per year in landfill costs. They’ve also diverted more than 7,400 tonnes of waste from landfill and avoided 12 million kgs of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.


Good On You

The Rana Plaza Factory collapse of 2013 was the catalyst for a brand ratings system that helped consumers find out how their favourite fashion brands fared in terms of ethical and sustainable credentials. This led to the crowd-funded launch of the Good On You app in Australia and within eight days more than 10,000 people had downloaded it. Headquartered on Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, the app has now launched in the United States, Canada and Europe, and been downloaded by more than 175,000. Among the local recommendations from Good On You’s well-informed sources are The Clothes Library – secondhand trading with a no-fast-fashion brands policy – and The Relove Movement, which puts on non-traditional clothes swaps events that include workshops on repairing or recycling wardrobe rejects.


The Sustainable Wardrobe

Sydney-based stylist Aleysha Campbell has turned her focus on sustainable fashion, with regular pop-ups that showcase Australia’s most luxurious ethical brands. Her Instagram offers an insight into her sense of timeless style, all gorgeous tactile fabrics in pared-back hues, and she herself makes for an inspiring ambassador. As well as pop-ups, Aleysha offers one-on-one styling sessions to help you achieve your own sustainable wardrobe. Brands she loves include Natalija’s pure silk loungewear (“I’ve been with Natalija while she sources her fabric”), Spirit Natural Clothing, which makes hemp denim jeans and uses natural dyes such as turmeric and eucalypt, and A.BCH, which, according to Aleysha, is “dedicated to 110% transparency” and has a design edge not usually associated with sustainable fashion.


The Bravery PR

Based in Surry Hills, The Bravery is an award-winning PR and communications agency that only takes on clients with a positive social and environmental impact on the planet. As well as representing big brands with big ideas like Patagonia, Bravery’s work has included campaigns for mobile phone recycling service MobileMuster and the 202020 Vision, which aims to increase Australia’s urban green space by 20 per cent by 2020. Co-founder Claire Maloney is also the acting chair of One Girl, a non-profit enterprise striving to educate one million girls in Africa.  


Sustainable Salon Sydney

Sustainable salons are a thing now. Sydney-based organisation Sustainable Salons Australia collects hair, paper, plastics, metals including aluminium foil, chemicals, razors and hairdressing tools from salons around the country. In Surry Hills is The Sustainable Salon; it’s vegan-friendly and says no to toxic chemicals. Owners Diego Padilla Vargas and Zoran Petric also incentivise customers to encourage eco-responsible behaviour. Discounts abound if you ride your bike there or refill your shampoo and conditioner bottles. They even have on-site community yoga and meditation.

Surry Hills Library

Not only has it been a fascinating architectural addition to Crown Street, but the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre is just dripping in eco credentials. So innovative was the design that the City of Sydney committed to reporting on the building’s performance to test whether it would live up to its energy-saving promises into the future. The environmental atrium of the well-known facade creates a ‘cocoon’ and encompasses an intricately planned air-flow system that for the most part negates the use of aircon units, but that’s not all. The building is equipped with a geothermal heat exchanger, photovoltaic panels, rainwater storage tank, green roof and low VOC finishes. Needless to say, preliminary results show the building is performing well in terms of energy, water and gas use.