SSEC Local Business Sustainability Award

Logo of the Local Business Awards

Sustainable business is environmentally-friendly business – business that operates in ways that, at best, benefits the environment and, at least, does minimal harm to it. Environmental sustainability encompasses the concept of living and working in a way that neither depletes nor damages the environment; it preserves and protects our environment for future generations.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre supports and encourages sustainable businesses by sponsoring a ‘Sustainability Award’ in the Sutherland Shire Local Business Awards. The Award is open to all businesses operating in the Sutherland Shire.

Businesses nominating for this Award must demonstrate practices they have incorporated into their everyday operations that contribute to environmental sustainability. These may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Practices that reduce dependence on fossil fuel (coal and gas) energy, such as use of renewable energy;
  • Practices that conserve water;
  • Practices that reduce use of fossil fuels for transport, such as riding to work, providing bicycle parking, sourcing local products.
  • Practices that reduce air pollution and use of hazardous chemicals, such as organic foods;
  • Practices that reduce or combat water pollution;
  • Practices that reduce waste, such as responsible packaging, reducing, reusing and recycling;
  • Practices that preserve the natural environment, such as using sustainable timber for building materials.


2022 Winner – Table to Earth

Matt Collins of Table to Earth receiving his award

We’re delighted to announce this year’s winner – Table to Earth, an innovative composting service, very much needed in the Sutherland Shire, and their mission to help create a zero waste society is admirable ❤️

Table to Earth’s compost service takes food scraps that are normally consigned to landfill and processes them to produce energy to heat homes and create nutrient rich soil. This includes modelling a pathway to reducing methane emissions which can be readily scaled up.

Table to Earth is a closed loop business, offering compostable (including bioplastics) packaging that can be collected in their compost collection service. This enables their customers to reduce waste in venues and even in the home.

Table to Earth is unique as a shire-based, Australian family-owned business (the only business of its kind in the Sutherland Shire). 

Congratulations, and thanks so much to Matt Collins. We’re hoping his business can inspire the Sutherland Council to introduce FOGO bins across the Sutherland Shire.

2022 Highly Commended – The Sewing Basket

The Sewing Basket is an enterprise that is committed to reducing craft and textile waste, educating the public and providing inclusive employment for people with a disability. Everything in their shop is donated by the public, it is then either sold as second-hand items, reused, recycled, or repurposed so that it can have a second life, rather than go to landfill.

The craft industry can itself involve considerable waste. While there is some research and awareness around clothing and textiles waste, awareness around waste in the craft and sewing community is low. The Sewing Basket is going a considerable way toward building awareness of the value of reuse and recycle.

The Sewing Basket sells donated fabrics, patterns, patchwork, embroidery and quilting materials, knitting and crochet yarn, haberdashery, sewing machines and more. Geraldine Daniel, The Sewing Basket Manager, says polyester that can’t be used is a challenge: they’re working with the CSIRO to try to find a way to re-use or recycle polyester so these items don’t end up in landfill.

  • Donated sewing machines, broken knitting needles and similar items containing metal, if unable to be placed in the shop, are taken to a metal recycling centre.
  • Paper patterns that are unsuitable for resale are taken home by staff to be recycled in their home recycling bin.
  • Plastic packaging that arrives in the store is re-used, where possible.
  • Customers are encouraged to bring their own carry bag, and most do. If a carry bag is needed, the first preference is to re-use a bag.
  • Community volunteers work alongside people with disabilities. Proceeds go to employing and supporting more people with a disability.

Previous Winners and Highly Commended businesses

2021 Winner – Endota Spa Gymea

Megan Horsman of Endota spa Gymea.

Endota Spa Gymea has introduced a number of innovative sustainability solutions, demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustainability using organic products, and either reducing waste or eliminating it completely.  The business repurposes shredded paper by recycling or composting, and where possible this waste is taken to an organic chicken farm for use in brooding boxes.

Responding to the problem of plastic cotton tips polluting waterways, it switched to biodegradable bamboo or paper cotton tips.  It has also eliminated the need to buy distilled water in plastic bottles by installing its own water distiller. 

The business has independently explored and sought every opportunity for better options to all facets of their operations and consumption  – from back of house, front of house service and waste management.

2021 Highly Commended – The Soulful Pantry

Charlee Dewhurst, owner of Soulful Pantry

The Soulful Pantry sells bulk vegan pantry goods and other sustainable lifestyle products in compostable packaging. Customers also have the option of refill using their own containers brought from home. There’s a BYO discount for customers who bring their own container to the Soulful Pantry stall at the Sutherland Shire Foodies Markets, and during COVID lockdowns they offered Shire residents a contactless home delivery refill service, where they picked up empty containers from customer’s homes, filled, and then returned them.

Their delivery service is carbon neutral and they work with their suppliers to order in bulk so that behind the scenes their own packaging waste is minimised. Charlee Dewhurst, owner of Soulful Pantry and her team ensure that they reuse packaging including boxes and red-cycle any large plastic bags that are not suitable for re-use or have been used until they are no longer fit for purpose.

2021 Highly Commended – Little Ones Party Hire

Debbie Stapleton, owner of Little Ones Party Hire

Little Ones Party Hire is an eco-friendly party hire business that provides reusable and plastic-free alternatives to celebrate children’s parties, including themed party kits and decorations, and even a washing-up service.

The focus is on assisting parents to avoid single-use plastic products and the waste that so often comes with children’s birthday parties. Debbie Stapleton, the owner of Little Ones Party Hire, supplies linen, themed backdrops, bunting, life-size character cut outs, cake and cupcake toppers, games and activities, party bags as well as dining and tableware.

Debbie also provides multiple alternatives to single use balloons. She runs the Sutherland Shire Balloon Library where balloons are rescued or donated and then hired out and reused by customers. The Sutherland Shire Balloon Library reduces the waste associated with foil balloons, encourages alternatives, and educates the community on why they are detrimental to the environment.

2020 Highly Commended – Tradies the Sutherland District Trade Union Club

A standout entrant practicing a whole range of amazing environmental initiatives – at each of their venues, Gymea, Helensburgh and Caringbah.

Plastic free

In June 2019, Tradies eliminated all plastic straws from their venues. They now use BioPak packaging for all takeaway items including containers, takeaway cups & lids, cutlery and napkins, as well as BioPak cleaning cloths and garbage bags. All soft drinks are now sold in glass bottles and they offer reusable glass bottles for table water and water refill stations for personal reusable bottles.  To encourage the use of reusable coffee cups, the club offers a 50c discount for anyone who brings their own cup.  All Tradies venues sell glass Keep Cups for $20 with a free coffee. (The recommended retail price for these is $26.) Since January 2018, Tradies have diverted 5,003 takeaway cups from landfill (calculated by the number of ‘BYO cup’ 50c discounts applied). 

On the advice of SO Shire, since the business award Tradies Caringbah has begun to use I am not paper for disposable cups.

Solar and Energy Saving

Since 2016 Tradies have invested over $250,000 in solar installations. At Caringbah they have a 40kw system; at Tradies Helensburgh, 176kw. The Helensburgh club now regularly operates off 100% solar energy during the day and the panels provide 45-50% of their overall energy usage. In 2012 Tradies also installed energy monitoring devices – their clubs are now consuming less energy than they were in 2012, even though they increased trading hours and added a restaurant at Tradies Gymea. All their venues have energy efficient lighting and sensor lighting wherever possible (e.g. in the carparks and toilets). 

Water saving

Both Gymea and Helensburgh venues have water tanks installed and use the rainwater to water the gardens. To reduce our water usage in bathrooms, all taps are fitted with aerators and male toilets feature waterless bio-urinal systems.  

iPromise Sustainability Grants

Tradies have their own grants program to recognise sustainability initiatives.  Since the program was introduced in 2013 they have provided $104,000 to help fund sustainability projects across NSW, including bushland regeneration, school vegetable gardens and chicken coops, composting programs, sustainable irrigation systems and native bee hives.  Early on the aim was to encourage and inspire sustainable innovation and education by providing financial assistance, assisting environmental sustainability projects in local schools, early learning centres and community organisations.   In 2020 the $20,349 grants focused on water conservation programs, allocating the funding to 9 water conservation projects across NSW. The projects include rain water tanks, water-wise irrigation systems, wicking beds and mulch to help edible gardens retain water.  

Bushfire relief funding

Following the horror of the recent bushfires, in early 2020, the Tradies Board of Directors further committed $100,000 to bushfire relief and Tradies management actively sought to include environmental organisations in the list of recipients. Recognising that bushfires not only affected human lives and homes, but also destroyed habitats and killed billions of native animals, the team researched organisations that would provide both immediate relief and long-term environmental solutions. As a result, the club donated $10,000 to Treading Lightly, a grass roots environmental movement based on the South Coast who used the money to replant and regenerate areas of the south coast, $10,000 to WIRES to assist injured animals and $5,000 to Aussie Ark which went towards the opening on their new 400 hectare Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.  

Food waste

To minimise food waste and greenhouse gas emissions Tradies now uses CAL Tech to produce composting material to be used in soil regeneration. Tradies management was impressed with CAL Tech’s commitment to maintaining a minimal carbon footprint.  

Choosing suppliers and business partners

Tradies are one of the larger organisations in the Sutherland Shire and they are currently developing a new procurement policy to prioritise local goods and services with strong sustainability and ethics credentials.  Tradies already choose their suppliers carefully, not just based on price or quality, but also on their alignment with tradies organisational values, particularly sustainability.  One example of a new local supplier is Three Pence Coffee Roasters – chosen for their commitment to producing sustainable and ethical coffee.  Another standout example is a cleaning company Tradies use, Pickwick Integrated Facilities Services, who in turn are committed to green cleaning products, recycling and biodegradable products.  

Tradies Caringbah is currently undergoing extensive renovations – choosing environmentally friendly building practices and design has been a key element in these renovations. Tradies has committed to providing the community the first Green Star Certified club in NSW.  Design elements contributing to environmental sustainability include: 

  • Ceramic battens covering the facade of the building. As the building is north facing, in the past, considerable energy has been used to cool the building. The battens are designed to naturally regulate the temperature which will dramatically reduce the need for heating/cooling. 
  • The club will feature 3 Junglefy green breathing walls and 2 Junglefy green breathing totems. The Junglefy Breathing Wall is an active, modular green wall system, scientifically proven to accelerate the removal of air pollutants. It also acts as a sound barrier and cools the surrounding air temperature, resulting in energy efficiency and reduced air conditioning costs. 
  • The existing solar panels on the roof of the club have been maintained and will continue to provide (estimated) 10-15% of the club’s energy. 
  • Energy efficient lighting will be used throughout the building. 
  • Paint for walls and ceilings will use environmentally friendly and VOC free paints. 
  • Louvres on Level 2 of the building will allow for natural air flow. 
  • Energy efficient equipment and appliances will be installed throughout the building. 

Encouragement and education for staff to adopt positive environmental measures

Supporting staff to use reusable containers, for shampoo, soap and body wash by purchasing sample products for their own use, as well as Keep Cups and reusable drink bottles with their induction packs. Sustainability, recycling and waste management is covered in all new employee induction sessions and on the floor training. Employees are also encouraged to participate in environmental volunteering through National Tree Planting Day and Clean Up Australia Day. Through 2019/2020 over 35 Tradies employees volunteered their time at these events. 

Raising Community Awareness

Tradies use their social media, enews and in-venue communications to raise awareness of environmental issues, and support initiatives such as World Environment Day, Plastic Free July, and Clean Up Australia Day.  Their Annual report includes a section dedicated to sustainability results.     

It’s wonderful to see such positive measures being adopted in our community. The work these businesses do deserves to be supported.


2020 Winner – The Point Preschool

The Point Pre-School, a not-for-profit, community-based preschool, has worked consistently over many years to embed sustainability into the daily practice and curriculum of children and staff.  The school’s long-term commitment to environmentally responsible practices includes: sustainable and ethical procurement; energy conservation; rainwater recycling; composting, worm farming and growing vegetables; tree planting; and, creating wildlife havens.  Even its dolls house has solar panels, a recycle bin, clothesline and water tank.

It is this outstanding track record, as well as its impressive new initiatives, that earned this organization the Sustainability Award.  In the preceding year the school had not only enhanced it’s passive solar design by adding block out blinds to improve energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint, it also replaced its old solar panels with a new, more efficient 6.6kW solar system.  The school celebrated Planet Ark’s National Tree Day by planting 100 native trees, bushes, and grasses in a nearby reserve and it hosted a workshop, attended by 65 teachers and educators, on Bush Tucker gardens at early childhood centres and schools.  The children themselves initiated “The Brave Bird Watchers Group” to keep an eye on local birds.

Director of the preschool, Catherine Lee, told us:

“We are so honoured and proud to be awarded the Sutherland Shire Local Business Award for Environmental Sustainability.  As a very small, not for profit, community preschool, established in 1956, this is wonderful recognition for our sustainable practices. We know early childhood is a great time to involve children in education for sustainability and develop lifelong practices to ensure the respect and protection of each other and our planet.

Thank you to all our beautiful children who are amazing custodians of our land. Thank you to all our families and community for the support you give us every day. And a special thank you to our Management Committee for their time, energy and continued support.”

two children playing

And student, Chloe, had a message to share on behalf of all the children:

“Please be a good custodian of our land. Please love our land.”

Congratulations to The Point Preschool for setting an excellent example for Sutherland Shire businesses and for educating our children so that they in turn will protect, respect and appreciate the beautiful natural environment that we call home.

Address: 89R Greenpoint Road, Oyster Bay NSW 2225;


For our previous winners and runner ups please see the post entries below for more information.

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