Sydney’s Warringah flying the green flag

Killarney Recycle Market is held monthly

Emma Giillman

Killarney Recycle Market is held monthly

It’s Sunday morning, a time when most Sydneysiders are enjoying a lie-in. But in the eco-friendly Northern Beaches area, the Killarney Recycle Market is already in full swing.

The monthly market is located in the federal electorate of Warringah, where Independent MP Zali Steggall sensationally unseated former prime minister Tony Abbott in the election last May.

Zeggall campaigned on a platform of combating climate change and protecting the environment – policies that fell on fertile ground in Warringah, a long-standing blue-ribbon Liberal seat which has turned increasingly green.

The Recycle Market is just one of the environmental initiatives being pursued locally. One of the stall-holders, Kathleen Fairweather, is involved in a program at the local primary school that teaches students the importance of recycling.

Fairweather, who is also a real estate agent and runs the local community Facebook page, says:

“We’re just a parental group getting together to make it happen.

“We did a waste audit … [recently] at the school. So we tipped out all the garbage and got the kids to separate it, just to see what volume of plastic and compost and everything else there is.”

The group’s hope is that the initiative will filter out into families.

At the Recycle Market, stall-holders chat among themselves as they tidy their selection of Frozen memorabilia and last season’s clothing buys that they have decided to part with. The aroma from a sausage sizzle drifts through the Scout Hall. Fairweather greets each passer-by with a warm smile.

The event’s organiser, Steph Minsall, runs the first stall on the left when you enter the hall. From that vantage-point, she can cast an eye over the other stalls and the shoppers who enter.

She says the community is trying to do its bit to help meet global challenges.

Steph Minsall (left) helping a local bargain-hunter (Photo: Emma Gillman)

“The idea is, we’re parting with stuff we don’t need any more and hopefully it’s going on to someone else so that we don’t need to keep contributing to landfill and purchasing new stuff.

“I bring my children here… and I think giving them exposure to this as a concept, it’s encouraging them to realise that this is a world of waste and we need to find homes for it, we shouldn’t just throw it out.”

Minsall adds:

“The need to acknowledge climate change is absolutely, staringly obvious.”

According to stall-holders, Warringah residents are a tight-knit, well-off group of people who are environmentally conscious.

Many voted for Steggall because of her green credentials. Minsall says: “For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s a positive thing that people who are environmentally focused are being elected into positions where they can make a difference.”

Abbott lost the seat after holding it for 25 years. It had been held by the Liberal Party since it was created in 1922.

Steggall, who promised to be a “climate leader” for her electorate, is doing her best not to disappoint her supporters. Last week (October 31), she praised the federal government for giving an extra $1 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to improve the reliability of the electricity grid.

In September, she switched on solar panels at a local paint company, Colormaker Industries, that is pumping excess clean energy generated by the panels into the local electricity grid.

Northern Beaches Council is also focused on environmental sustainability. As one councillor, Penny Philpott, explains: “The environment is a key concern in Warringah. We live in a really unique area. We are so privileged to live amongst beaches and bushlands, and that is why sustainability is at the centre of our thoughts when we’re considering projects and initiatives.”