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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Big crowd turns out to see renewable energy in action

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Around 2,000 people attended the inaugural Renew Fest sustainability festival at Mullumbimby Showground on Saturday (June 18) , exceeding even the organisers’ expectations.

Full story below photos

People flocked to see the electric vehicle display with two Teslas, a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, along with the latest in solar battery technology – Tesla Powerwall, Enphase, LG Chem and Aquion supported by a program of talks.

At a more home-grown level, the Greens’ ‘ban the [plastic] bag in Byron’ campaign also received a boost.

There were activities for children, expert panels, information sessions on renewable energy, food sovereignty and biodiversity and produce and information stalls ranging from Rainforest Rescue to TOOT.

The crowd was entertained with music throughout the day, powered by The Solar Sunflower from Southern Cross University.

The bring your own cup and plate, zero waste policy proved its worth with just 240 litres (1 Sulo bin) of recyclable waste being created for the entire event, no landfill was produced. The Water Lily Wash Pod was kept busy washing crockery and utensils.

Festival director Ella Rose Goninan said she was ‘heartened and absolutely thrilled by the response’.

‘Together we all stood strong on Saturday for climate action. I have great faith, in seeing the attendance, in our community’s ability to transition to a renewable future,’ Ms Goninan said.


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  1. When I studied electrical engineering in the 1980’s the greens opposed battery technology so today I am bewildered when people promote batteries as an environmental solution. Before embarking on a battery world I feel we should understand if and how we manage its environmental impact. The volume of batteries required to replace power stations and petrol motors would be significant. We need to understand the volume of manmade chemicals to be manufactured to accomplish this feat and the risks to the environmental before embarking on such a journey.
    I divide the chemical world into two types: natural & manmade [synthetic]. The former nature can manage or clean-up “spills” whereas the latter can stay for decades. For example, the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Nature was able to handle cleaning up the oil spill but impatient humans spray dispersant. Unfortunately, for the coast line vegetation the oil has gone but the dispersant remains inhibiting regrowth.

    • I endorse your comments on electric being promoted as a green solution. I am particularly concerned with the view that electric vehicles area clean solution to transport provision. They do reduce point of use pollution, which is important in downtown Sydney or Brisbane, but not an issue in regional Australia (except perhaps in Johnson Street). However they are no cleaner overall then the source of their energy. It might be possible in the future to generate the sort of energy an electric car or train or tram requires from renewables, but for the moment we would need to rely on expanded hydro power, more coal-fired electricity or nuclear power. Cars, electric or otherwise, are also a major consumer of energy at the production and recycling stage. One particular area where the electric motor is proving useful is to assist bikes – useful for the elderly, people who work in physical jobs and do not care to be pedaling, or in very hilly areas The response to the environmental impact of transport needs is a much more mundane one than electric cars. Improve public transport through better bus and train services – the latter for high use routes – with safe, convenient park-and-ride options; use of cycles or mobility devices for shorter trips; and much more limited use of the existing fleet of cars where the bikes and buses are not practicable (taxed on a per km basis to cover the high costs of road provision, and health, social and environmental impacts).

  2. It is so wonderful to see your happy smiling faces in pictures (thank you Jeff). Inspiring turnout.
    I am reading this in London where it is difficult to see the wood for the trees and the issue of a polluted and damaged planet is overpowered in the news. The dominating news is the referendum on remaining in the E.U and the murder of Jo Cox, a Labour member of parliament, on the street by a mentally ill person and all the spin that this has created.
    Go Byron Shire!!! Keep shining a light in this crazy world. Action speaks so much louder than words. You are inspirational. Thanks to all the people bringing this together. Truely inspirational. Love to all from London.

  3. congratulations to the organisers for such a succesful inaugural event.
    Waht a great new event for a progressive region.
    As an events operator – i want to commend the waste volumes produced from this event..
    they are inspiring.
    Most ‘green’ events would produce more waste volume just in marketing material / programs and flyers..

    After several years working across major events in oz (and seeing the bumpout /waste left behind and cleanup after BDO, soundwave and most all other major events still operating..) this level of outcome is outstanding.
    We are embarking on hosting a minimal waste policy thoughout a new festival /awareness campaign –
    Bellingen Turtle Festival- a 3day festival on oct long weekend in response and support for a sudden impact occuring last year & now being listed as a critically endangered species.
    Any suggestions for partnering waste programs or techniques -Either in marketing strats or from engaging a concious crowd in some way..
    please contact us on the website – http://www.bellingenturtlefest.com.au

    Hats off..


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