SO Shire & Plastic Free Sutherland Shire

Want a cleaner, healthier Shire?

So does the team at SO SHIRE.  SO SHIRE – Sustainable Organisations of the Sutherland Shire – is working to protect our natural environment, including the beautiful waterways that surround our Shire. The overall aim is to protect and enhance the natural environment by educating the public, mobilising volunteers, advising and promoting environmentally sustainable businesses within the Sutherland Shire.​  

SO SHIRE is working to build a sustainable community that doesn’t cost the Earth, supporting the local economy – and protecting the ocean and environment.

Shire Shred

Their first main focus is Plastic Free Sutherland Shire, a project focusing on stopping the source of single use plastic packaging. This involves advising and working with local groups, schools, consumers and businesses to turn the tide on single use plastic and reduce waste,  to protect the ocean, local environment, human health, economy and shire lifestyle. 

Approximately half the plastic we produce is only used once and then discarded. The SO Shire team is working with local businesses to reduce single-use plastic packaging and landfill waste  (coffee cups, cutlery, straws, plastic bags, take-away containers) to minimise its impact on the environment.  Investing in sustainable alternatives limits local plastic pollution and landfill waste, and saves businesses money in the long term.

SO SHIRE conduct regular private and public beach clean-ups, collecting and documenting the large quantities of plastic rubbish that pollute our beaches and waterways. In Australia, approximately 130,000 tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year. 

One recent project is collecting cotton tip bud data – a cotton bud census of greater Sydney sites, tracking how frequently and how they are washing up in Southern Sydney sites, in order to formulate a source reduction plan ( i.e. where they are coming from). 

Sites we are hoping to cover include beaches across the Shire, in the Royal National Park and Illawarra.  Rivers, parks, streets, catchments… all sites count to help us understand the source! The aim is to log the results as a separate item on the Australian Marine Debris database.

We are looking for specific data because the features of the cotton tips tell us more information.

If you are keen on helping with this project we’d love to hear from you.

Sarah-Jo Lobwein, Sutherland Shire Environmental Citizen of the Year 2021, with Sutherland Shire Mayor, Steve Simpson.

Other SO Shire activities include hosting film screenings, sustainability supplier forums and presentations that also include school visits and excursions/incursions.

SO Shire audit, consult and advise sustainable practices for businesses – putting them in contact with preferably local suppliers and services. 

To find out about the sustainable business certification program, sustainability forum, and to keep update to date with everything happening at SO SHIRE:

Facebook @SOSShire, and website:

On balloons, polluting the environment shouldn’t be part of celebrations…


Plastic Free Sutherland Shire

Plastic Free Sutherland Shire is the plastic waste reduction campaign by SO SHIRE working with local schools, businesses, suppliers and the community to eliminate or reduce the common single use plastics – especially those that are sources of local litter and marine debris. 

​They are:

  • plastic straws
  • plastic shopping bags
  • plastic cutlery
  • plastic cups, including take away coffee cups
  • plastic take away containers
  • Single use PET bottles (especially water)

Project organisers and sponsors will provide as much support as possible to make the transition to plastic-free practices as easy and cost-effective as possible.

The Plastic Free Sutherland Shire project is also supported by a Sustainability Award, sponsored by Sutherland Shire Environment Centre in the Local Business Awards.

For more information please contact Sarah-Jo Lobwein at

Facebook @SOSShire and website:

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