Randwick City Council is a local government organisation in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Covering 37 square kilometres, Randwick City is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the east, historic Botany Bay in the south and municipalities of Bayside and Sydney in the north and west. With a population of 150,000, the greater proportion in units and apartments, there is a high population density compared to many local government areas. Regular community surveys on environmental attitudes and actions have demonstrated Randwick residents have a high expectation related to the conservation of resources and responding to sustainability across a comprehensive range of issues including coastal protection, climate change, biodiversity, reducing consumption and community engagement and involvement. Council has been implementing major sustainability improvements for more than 15 years through an innovative Sustaining our City initiative that has responded to the issues of concern. More than 400 million litres of drinking water are saved annually following ten years of investment in stormwater harvesting and recycling projects, 14 Council buildings have in excess of 200 kilowatts of solar PV installed on rooftops, a dedicated sustainability education ‘hub’ has been developed for the delivery of more than 100 mostly free courses, workshops, events and activities for residents and students each year, single-use plastics have been removed from Council operations and Councilsupported events and the Perry Street Recycling Centre recovers the full range of designated wastes including electronic waste, polystyrene packaging, batteries, oils, textiles, whitegoods, just to name a few. The Council has undertaken community attitudes surveys every 3 years to inform their environmental programs and has undertaken similarly, energy audits of their top energy consuming sites, using audit results to develop and implement a strategic approach to energy saving and greenhouse emission reducing initiatives across all Council sites. A collaboration of partnerships extends Council’s abilities to respond to and develop creative solutions to environmental issues including the signing of a Sustainability Agreement with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) giving their students access to on-ground sustainability learning opportunities and providing Council access to state of the art learning, problem solving and research into sustainability solutions.
Three years ago, the concept of a local best gift sustainable Christmas market was developed and implemented as a means of making the ‘best gift in the world’ more tangible and local for residents and local businesses. The purpose was to extend the best gift Christmas ideas into an opportunity for local artisans, artists and producers to reach eastern suburbs residents with locally made, designed and produced, sustainable or environmentally friendly goods ahead of the Christmas rush. Randwick’s Best Gift in the World initiative has been operating for a number of years as more of an information campaign via a dedicated webpage www.thebestgift.com.au. The page has listed a range of larger and smaller family-oriented gift ideas for the Christmas season with a tag line, “gifts …. that don’t cost the Earth”. In effect, one of the outcomes behind the campaign and market day was to connect residents with environmentally sustainable gift ideas. The successful organisation of Randwick’s Best Gift in the World sustainable Christmas market has demonstrated clearly, both the feasibility and viability of well-organised market events for the local community.
Randwick’s Best Gift in the World, sustainable Christmas market was held on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at Goldstein Reserve, Coogee beach. The market has operated on two previous occasions to offer a more practical and tangible add-on to the ongoing Best Gift in the World Christmas campaign operated by Randwick Council to encourage less waste and more thought to durable Christmas gift ideas ‘that don’t cost the Earth’. In summary, 400 local artisans, artists, designers, creatives and producers registered to participate at the market which operated from 9am to 3pm on the day. Due to space constraints, 180 stall-holders were invited to sell and market their sustainable and environmentally friendly wares. Many of the stall-holders indicated in their feedback to Council they had never experienced as successful a trading day as they had at the sustainable Christmas market.