SO Shire stands for the Sustainable Organisations of the Sutherland Shire .
We are a collective of local groups, individuals and businesses in the Sutherland Shire working towards environmental goals, including single use plastic reduction, to protect the natural environment, waterways and beaches through education and supporting environmentally-sustainable businesses.
SO SHIRE is a community driven network of individuals, businesses and organisations all working together for a sustainable Shire, to fuse together the local economy with the protection of the ocean and environment. SO SHIRE is building a sustainable community that doesn’t cost the Earth by educating the public; mobilising volunteers and coordinating community outreach events such as clean ups, workshops and presentations; advising and promoting environmentally sustainable businesses, schools, canteens and homes within the Sutherland Shire. Our first focus is Plastic Free Sutherland Shire: a collaborative movement to encourage Sutherland Shire businesses, schools and residents (and visitors) to go single-use plastic free and to keep our local coast, waterways and public spaces litter free, established in 2018.
Our litter and debris data projects – where we collect citizen science data to work on pollution source reduction plans (identify where the litter item is coming from and work on solutions to stop the source of the litter) for example our cotton bud stem project (plastic cotton bud sticks washing up in the hundreds on our local beaches from Sydney sewerage systems) – have been combined projects developed over few years with local volunteers after we noticed patterns in the litter we were picking up.
We work with local businesses, schools and consumers to increase their sustainable practices including to reduce single-use plastic packaging and landfill waste (coffee cups, cutlery, straws, plastic bags, take-away containers, single use plastic bottles) to minimise its impact on the environment. Investing in sustainable alternatives limits the local plastic pollution and landfill waste created, and saves businesses money in the long term
We advise and audit local business operations to work towards their customised business plastic-free and sustainable certification system that covers all businesses from retail, hospitality, health, school canteens to office businesses, and our first truly plastic free businesses were publicly certified in early 2020. We have been working behind the scenes with schools of all levels (including ELC’S) to audit and advise on reducing waste and increasing sustainability initiatives. Our first official schools were certified in 2020. We are releasing downloadable toolkits for all types of businesses (including schools) and these toolkits will also cover advice for coordinating more sustainable events including fairs, markets and parties.
With the primary focus for a PLASTIC FREE SUTHERLAND SHIRE, We support local residents, schools, businesses and visitors to kick the single use plastic habit, by canvassing #swapforthesea choices and alternatives – offering solutions to allow all generations and all industries to choose and invest in sustainable alternatives. We collaborate with other local organisations and run regular onshore beach clean-ups at set locations for litter and marine debris data collection. We host School incursions and excursions on marine studies and marine pollution, including solution workshops, litter audits and documentaries and citizen science, run Education and awareness programs to promote sustainable choices, alternatives to single use plastics and lifestyle changes, Canteen and school, and business certifications, Private and Public film screenings, workshops and presentations and personally promote and advise local businesses and organisations that are environmentally sustainable.