Sustainable Living

Get creative about how to live sustainably; find ways to grow your own food; read tips on how to buy green and subscribe to our sustainability newsletter.

We invited our primary and secondary school community to design a logo or fictional character to help Council promote awareness and reduction of single-use plastics in our community. Thank you to all students who submitted an entry and congratulations to the winning students.

Every bit of plastic that has ever been made still exists somewhere in the world. Plastic is designed to last forever, yet every day we use many plastic products that are thrown away after a few minutes. Much of this plastic ends up in landfill or as litter in our environment. It is estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year where it entangles and is ingested by wildlife.

At Darebin Council, we’re taking action to reduce the harm, waste and pollution caused by single-use plastic items. On 5th June 2017, Council resolved to eliminate single-use plastic items at Council run events and events run on Council land, roads or buildings - such as sports and recreational events and markets.  Read the full Council resolution on plastics here.

The 'say NO  to single-use plastic' schools competition invited Darebin students to be part of this important challenge; to think about how we use plastics and to find a creative way to communicate the harm, waste and pollution caused by single-use plastics and how to avoid them in our homes, schools and communities.

Thank you to all the students who entered the competition. More than 150 entries were received, which made it tough for our judges to choose a winner.  Entries were judged on their creativity, visual impact and how well they conveyed a clear, relevant message about the impact of single-use plastic on the environment and how we can change our behavior to reduce plastics in our community.

Congratulations to the overall competition winner Maeve Gunning from Bell Primary School and to age-category winners Ava Sampson de Moiser (Bell Primary School) and Ally Murray (Northern College of the Arts and Technology).

Say No To Single Use Plastics - Maeve Gunning

Maeve Gunning - Winner 3-6 Years - Overall winner 

Say No To Single Use Plastics - Ava Sampson DeMoiser

Ava Sampson de Moiser - Winner, Prep to Year 2

Say No To Single Use Plastics - Ally Murray

Ally Murray - Winner, Year 7-10

More information
For more information about other programs to support waste and plastics reduction in schools please consult the following websites:

For more information about single-use plastics and the effects of plastics in the environment…visit these great links:
The War on Waste
Plastic Free July
Images and facts
Recycling Plastic Bags
Facts about disposable plastic items, some discussion of alternatives

Council says NO to single use plastic!

We're taking action to reduce the harm, waste and pollution caused by single use plastic items. On 5th June 2017, Council resolved to eliminate single use plastic items at Council run events and events run on Council land, roads or buildings - such as sports and recreational events and markets.

We're writing to Aldi, Coles and Woolworths to ocngratulate them on their decision to not provide plastic bags to shoppers, and writing to other supermarkets in Darebin asking them to follow this example.

We'll soon be inviting Darebin primary and secondary students to design a logo or a fictional character to help us promote waste reduction and encourage buyer and user behavioural change too.

We'll continue our advocacy to the State Government, but we'll also be working with our community - our residents and traders - to support and encourage them to eliminate single use plastic items.

For more information on the other actions Council has committed to, read the full Council resolution here.

Are you after practical advice on ways to reduce your energy and water use, increasing your use of sustainable transport, or minimising your rubbish?

The Sustainable Homes and Communities Program aims to engage a broad cross-section of the community in environmental action and support the community to adopt more sustainable living actions at home, at work and in the community.

The Program offers a wide range is sustainable living workshops, a Community Leaders in Sustainability course, the joint Cities of Darebin and Banyule Sustainability Awards, as well as a variety of sustainable living resources, with a view to assisting community members to reduce their energy and water consumption, reduce household waste generation, increase sustainable food choices, increase sustainable gardening, and increasing the use of sustainable means of transport.

The Program is funded by, and delivered in both the Cities of Darebin and Banyule.

Community Leaders

Applications are now open for the Darebin Community Leaders in Sustainability 2017-18 course.

Applications Close: 5pm, Tuesday 26 September 2017.

Visit the Sustainable Homes and Communities Program website for more information about the Program and the range of sustainable living activities on offer.

Council is establishing the Darebin Energy Foundation (DEF) to accelerate sustained and meaningful action with the community (residents, businesses, education and other organisations) to engage with the climate emergency challenge.

The Darebin Energy Foundation will have a strong focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, and will work with Council, community groups, other governments, authorities, the private sector and other organisations to achieve this aim.

Darebin Council adopted the following roles for DEF in the Terms of Reference for the foundation in February 2017. In the formation of the foundation these will be revised to align with Council’s Climate Emergency commitment.

The foundation will:

  • Facilitate a Darebin climate think tank to develop local zero emissions and resilience proposals and solutions.
  • Harness and encourage community participation and investment (volunteering and donation).
  • Develop and contribute to programs that educate and mobilise the community on the above issues.
  • Develop and trial innovative programs and delivery mechanisms which can be scaled up to achieve significant change.
  • Advocate to governments and industry to increase climate change action and funding for community and local government action.
  • Advocate to the State and Federal Governments regarding policies and issues that support the purpose of the Foundation.
  • Work to ensure there are sustainable long term funding and resourcing commitments from Council to drive down emissions and embed climate resilience in our community, with a strong focus on our most vulnerable communities.
  • Work with Council to deliver identified actions of the Climate Emergency Plan including, but not limited to, community-owned renewable energy projects.
  • Devise and apply for other sources of funding (e.g. grants, fee for service etc.) that improve effectiveness and financial sustainability of the Foundation.

An interim advisory board will consist of 9 community members and 4 Councillors and will meet approximately monthly over the next six-twelve months.

The first tasks for this interim advisory board will be to set up a community climate think-tank and to determine the best model for DEF going forward, including resourcing and staffing.

Interested in saving money, saving resources and living a more sustainable lifestyle? Then subscribe to our environmental newsletter Sustainability News!

After more than a decade Sustainability News - Council's free environment and sustainability newsletter is going paperless!  We will still bring you information about events and workshops, local community and council projects, sustainable living tips, and how and where to get into nature in Darebin, but instead of letting you know this quarterly, we will now be publishing our new electronic newsletter monthly.

If you or your friends, neighbours, colleagues or family wish to subsribe, visit

You can read previous editions of Sustainability News below (prior to being an electronic newsletter).

Previous Editions:


We will be conducting a food waste recycling trial to help divert food waste from landfill, with the trial informing the development of a final food waste collection model for Darebin.

The trial will take place in the Kingsbury area, commence in early December and run for 6 months. At this stage, the trial is only for participants in the trial area, and will be an opportunity for Council to assess any issues relating to the service from both the perspective of the service users, as well as the perspective of the food waste processor.   

If you are not a resident of the trial area, don't worry, you can still recycle your food waste at home in a compost bin or worm farm! 

If you wish to know more about composting or worm farming at home, visit the Composting Mulch and Worm Farms section.

We encourage our residents to make healthy and sustainable food choices.

There is a growing interest in creating local food systems which respect the limits of natural resources and improve the health and wellbeing of communities. Local Food Systems can also help improve food security by increasing the availability of and access to diverse food options.

We host regular Sustainable Food Leaders Forums which are open to anyone in the Darebin community involved in or interested in sustainable food initiatives or improving food security.

To find out when the next Forum is or to keep up to date with the latest Sustainable Food news and events, visit the Darebin Food Harvest Network website.

Community Groups involved in Sustainable Food

There are a range of organisations and community initiated activities that support sustainable food across Darebin and neighbouring municipalities.

  • Transition Darebin is a local community group that is aiming to help transition to a low energy economy. Food is a priority issue for the group and current initiatives include Urban Food Harvesters Food swaps in Northcote and Reservoir, ‘Our Apple Tree’ in Herbert Street, Northcote, and ‘The Convivial Kitchen’
  • Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Service (DIVRS) is a not-for-profit volunteer driven organisation that delivers free services and programmes for vulnerable populations in Darebin. DIVRS’s Urban Food Programme aims to use existing urban food resources (public and private) to create a more sustainable community by re-localising food production, distribution and consumption. It includes the delivery of the Darebin Fruit Squad and Backyard Basics Project, as well as leadership of volunteer positions in Fresh Food and Food Sourcing to augment the Emergency Relief Foodstore. Founded by Transition Darebin and with funding from Darebin Council, the Fruit Squad project involves volunteers gathering surplus fruit from private fruit trees for redistribution to those in need. Horticultural knowledge and experience is also shared to help maintain Darebin’s fruit tree stock. 
  • CERES is a not for profit educational organisation located in East Brunswick. It has an urban orchard food swap, produce market, nursery, and a bulk unpackaged  food store. They also run cooking and other sustainable living workshops. CERES Fair Food is their ethical on-line organic grocery delivery service.
  • Cultivating Community work with diverse communities to create fair, secure and resilient food systems. They provide services in public housing community gardens, food waste and composting, food systems and school food gardens.

Food Security

Council coordinates the Darebin Emergency Relief Network to assist local emergency relief providers and other community agencies meet the needs of Darebin residents experiencing financial or material disadvantage, including problems accessing food.

Sustainable Food Events and Workshops

We host two popular events each year which celebrate home food growing and preserving traditions across cultures and generations. Be inspired at tours and workshops held by passionate and knowledgeable local food experts at the following Darebin Food Festivals:

Sustainable Gardening and Food Workshops are also held as part of the Sustainable Homes and Communities Program

Sustainable Food Resources

Interested in reading about how to make healthy, sustainable and affordable food choices and to successfully and sustainably grow food at home?

Sustainable Food Policies and Strategies

Council's role in supporting food security and sustainable food in Darebin is outlined in these documents:

Food Know How - Avoiding Food Waste

Food Know How, a food waste reduction program, was run in 2015 and 2016 across five Councils (Darebin, Yarra, Moreland, Whittlesea and Maribyrnong).

Food waste is costly to households, and a serious environmental concern.  Recent audits show that 38% of the average Darebin waste bin is food waste which may have been avoided or recycled.  It is estimated that this food waste costs the average household approximately $2200 per year, and we know that when food breaks down in landfill, it produces methane which is a more toxic greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  

The aim of the Food Know How program was to educate and encourage households to avoid and recycle food waste using methods such as meal planning, cooking with leftovers, tips about smart shopping and food storage, as well as composting, worm farming and using a Bokashi bucket.

The program also included cooking workshops with a previous Masterchef finalist; composting and worm farming workshops; online engagement; participant support and advice; food waste movie events; prizes and give-aways; and much more – all geared to help Darebin residents reduce their food waste. 

Interested in reducing your food waste at home? You can find more information, toolkits and handy tips at Food Know How

Sharing a community garden can expand your knowledge of gardening, allows you to share fresh fruit and vegetables, and helps keep you fit and active.

Community Gardens involve the collective gardening of a single piece of land by a community group, both on privately owned land or on land owned or managed by Council. They are great places to learn more about gardening, share your top gardening tips, reconnect with nature, share your fresh produce, stay fit and active and make new friends.

Community Gardens can be based on a shared model where planting and harvesting is carried out communally, or on an allotment model where individuals are allocated a space within the garden to cultivate produce for their own use, or for sharing and swapping with other gardeners.

Community Gardens in Darebin
Keen to join or visit a community garden near you? Visit The Darebin Food Harvest Network Website - community gardens listing for a full and up to date listing of all community gardens and contact details. 

Start Your Own Community Garden

You will need to consider some important questions before starting your garden. Is the land suitable and is maintenance possible? What will be the costs to develop and maintain the garden? What management structures will work best?

Council's Communal Food Garden (Community Garden) Assessment Guidelines can assist a community group assess the suitability of a particular site for growing food on a communal basis. The principles in the guideline apply whether the site under consideration is on Council / public land or is privately owned. The guidelines also outline the process / steps and responsibilities of both the applicant and Council when assessing a potential site for a community garden. 

Groups applying to establish a community garden on Council owned or managed land are required to use the Communcal Food Garden Site Assessment Checklist to assess the suitability of a potential site.

Other great resources can be found here: Darebin Food Harvest Network - Resources. Talk to other community gardens and committees about what works for them.

Planting Naturestrips
Communal gardening can also take place on naturestrips provided our Nature Strip Guidelines are followed. See Nature Strips and Street Trees.

All Nations Kitchen Garden

Council collaborated with members of the Northcote Library Food Garden and the local communuity to develop a highly visible and accessible urban food demonstration site. Located in All Nations Park, on Separation Street, Northcote (behind Northcote Plaza and opposite Santa Maria College), the All Nation Kitchen Garden design incorporates permaculture principles and is based on a multilayered garden of fruit trees, edible understory and ground cover. 

A passionate group of local residents care for and manage the site in partnership with Council. The goal is to sustainably produce local food and to provide opportunities for education and community building. If you are interested in getting involved, contact the Environment team, or drop by the site on a Sunday when the group are having a working bee. 

Further Information:

Environment team
Ph: 8470 8435

Buying green is making a choice to purchase products and services that are less damaging to the environment.The decision you make can make a big difference to our environment!

Council an active member of the ECO-buy program, encouraging residents and staff to consider their environmental impact when purchasing household appliances, services and office equipment.

Here are some tips to help you buy green:

  • Select products with four star or higher energy ratings. The higher the efficiency of the product, the more it will lower your electricity bills and help the environment.
  • Choose AAAA or higher water efficient appliances – an easy way to save water and money.
  • Look for products made from recycled materials and packaging. Recycled and reused products mean no raw resources are used and cut down on the waste we produce. Even better, use a reusable container for food and drinks.
  • Look for fuel efficient options when buying a car. Cars are one of the biggest expenses for a household and a big source of carbon pollution. The better the millage, the more money in your pocket.
  • Use sustainable transport where you can. Walking and riding are free and healthy.
  • Reduce your waste through recycling and composting. Recycling is a great way to help improve the environment by diverting waste from landfill. Composting is easy and turns food waste into valuable nutrients for your garden.
  • Buy environmentally friendly cleaning products to cut down on powerful chemicals in your home and the sewers. An equally clean home without the chemical smell!
  • Use a reusable bag instead of plastic when shopping and remember to use it often. Reusable bags are a great way to cut down on plastic waste, but not if they’re sitting at home while you’re at the shops!
  • Buy local products and services. Farmers markets and local suppliers reduce the transport needed to get produce to your table, and helps our your local small-scale farmers.
  • Create a vegetable garden to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs at your own home. A delicious alternative to a trip to the supermarket. 
Further Information:
Environmental Sustainability

Darebin's Environmental Reference Group provides community feedback and assistance to Council regarding local environmental and sustainability issues.

Darebin Environmental Reference Group Positions Available

Several two-year, voluntary positions are available for community representatives who demonstrate knowledge and commitment to environmental and sustainability issues and community involvement. Meetings are held eight-weekly on a Wednesday evening for two hours. 

To apply, please download a copy of DERG 2018 Terms of Reference and Selection Information and submit an expression of interest form to  the Environmental Education and Promotions Officer at

Applications Close at 12.00pm, Friday 8th December 2016.

For more information ring 8470 8373.

View the Darebin Environment Reference Group meeting minutes:

Meeting Minutes 2017

September 2017
August 2017
June 2017
May 2017
February 2017

Meeting Minutes 2016

September 2016
August 2016
June 2016
April 2016
February 2016

Meeting Minutes 2015 

November 2015
September 2015
August 2015
June 2015
April 2015
February 2015

Meeting Minutes 2014

December 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
February 2014

For More Information:

Phone: Environmental Education and Promotions Officer 8470 8373

In partnership with the Victorian Association of Environmental Education, the Cities of Darebin and Banyule have developed a range of sustainability/environmental resources for schools and ESL classrooms.

'A Great Place to Live' school resources have been developed to illustrate teaching sustainability as a cross-curricular perspective in the English domain. The resources complement a set of storyboards and animated films created to promote sustainable behaviours at home. The storyboards and animated films focus on six sustainable living themes - saving energy at home, saving water at home, sustainable gardening, eating sustainably, sustainable transport, and avoiding waste and smart shopping.  The accompanying school resources link to AusVELS levels 5 to 8.

The ESL resources are particularly well suited to schools with culturally diverse populations or ESL students, schools involved in global sustainability projects, and schools mentoring others on their sustainability journey.