Sustainable Living Tasmania

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Title

Sustainable Living Tasmania

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Description

Sustainable Living Tasmania (SLT) is a group of committed, passionate people. We're practical, idealistic, positive, realistic and informed. We come from all walks of life and we all have the same goal: to live in vibrant, healthy communities that are prepared for the challenges of the future

SLT has been around more than forty years (see our History) getting on with the job of helping people in our community live in a way that costs less, is healthier, more enjoyable and ensures future generations can enjoy a great quality of life too.

We're non-political and not-for-profit. This means people power allows us to do all the great things we do.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group

Group

Primary environmental focus

Sustainability

Geographic sphere or activity

State

Primary location

Hobart

Known address

1/71 Murray St, Hobart TAS 7000

Website link/s

Known reason for group inactivity

We're currently exploring how we might evolve to best contribute toward a future in which we and future generations can live safely, happily and sustainably. Read on for the background...

Over the past two decades Sustainable Living Tasmania has undertaken many valuable activities, including:

Running scores of community-based programs, including the extraordinary Sustainable Living Festivals.
Supporting many environmental and social welfare groups with space to meet and hold events, promotion, financial auspicing, insurance coverage, strategic guidance, and moral support.
Helping almost five thousand Tasmanian households on low incomes to make their homes more comfortable and reduce their energy bills through audits and upgrades.
Giving free advice on living sustainably to countless more.
Facilitating the installation of insulation, energy efficient appliances, and solar panel systems on many hundreds of Tasmanian homes through bulk buys and Eco Home Guide.
Advocating for strong action on climate change and other environmental issues.

We thank you our staff, volunteers, supporters who have helped with many of these actions.

As for many not-for-profit organisations, raising enough income to sustain the physical premises and professional management required to deliver such services is a major challenge. We have depended largely on government funding, which has always been fickle, and has seen our organisation go through many ups and downs over our nearly 50 year history. The past 5 years has been particularly difficult. Federal Labor’s election promises on community renewable energy and solar on schools – two things we have been strongly advocating for in recent years – gave us hope, but of course have not eventuated. And the Liberal-National Government is not funding any such programs that we can play a significant role in delivering.

Having long been acutely aware of these challenges, in recent years we strove to become more financially resilient by developing two income streams that aren’t reliant upon governments:

Commercial consulting – delivering energy, carbon, and waste audits on a fee-for-service basis for organisations; including schools, aged care facilities, health care facilities, local governments, tourism operators, offices, farms, and more. While we have recently achieved some success here, it is not raising enough to cover our overheads.
Eco Home Guide – a social enterprise that helps households to live more sustainably and which makes income through commissions on products and services from Tasmanian businesses. This is an approach that has been taken by several of our mainland counterparts to varying degrees of success. While it showed early promise for us, Tasmania’s smaller population and tightening margins for our partner businesses have rendered the enterprise not financially viable. As such, we will be discontinuing Eco Home Guide at the end of July.

Most recently, we tendered to run a large low-income energy efficiency program for the Tasmanian Government. While we pioneered this type of program in Tasmania, we were beaten on price by a larger commercial consultancy.

At one level, these outcomes are signs of success: Where we were once pioneers, is now a competitive sector. While seeking to understand and reduce one's environmental impact was once unusual, it is now mainstream. While energy efficiency and renewable energy were once expensive novelties, there are now mature markets delivering relatively affordable products and services.

Despite these positive developments, humanity continues toward a collision with Earth’s ecological limits. And so, as the organisation has done on several occasions over our history, it is time for Sustainable Living Tasmania to re-invent itself.

In the meantime, we have reached a critical point and have had to make some hard decisions. From the end of August 2019 until our new direction is clear, we will become a volunteer-led organisation with no office. This will keep a nest-egg in the bank that could resource a re-imagined organisation or other opportunities. Todd Houstein will change roles from Executive Officer and, with his great skill and thoroughness, continue the consultancy work mentioned above, helping to build the nest-egg. We will continue to support a number of community groups such as Education for Sustainability Tasmania, Plasticwise Taroona, Creek Road Community Garden, the Food Garden Group, and others.

So, tell us how you think a Tasmanian community-based not-for-profit organisation can best contribute toward a future in which we and future generations can live safely, happily and sustainably. Contact us here.

Founding Year

History of group

Sustainable Living Tasmania began life in 1972 as the Tasmanian Environment Centre – turning 40 in December 2012. We've always been a community-based, non-political and not-for profit organisation. We provide a Hobart-based community resource and education centre that works to provide a direct, local, realistic and accessible contribution to the protection and restoration of the natural environment, and the development of homes and cities for a sustainable future for all Tasmanians. With the advent of the internet our library catalogue and resources became available online, making communication with groups all around the state more effective.

The flooding of Lake Pedder in the late 60s triggered a flood of public concern for the environment. Many of the key people involved in the campaign to save Lake Pedder decided that Tasmania needed a permanent environment centre where people could meet, have access to environmental resources, produce environmental information, submissions and other material, and communicate with the world at large.

Ten sponsors pledged their support, each agreeing to pay 50c a week for the first year to sign a two-year lease on premises at 281 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart – and the Tasmanian Environment Centre (known as the TEC) was born on 7 December 1972.
The Early Years

From the very beginning TEC was a can-do organisation that remained non-political and kept its focus firmly on providing practical assistance to individuals and groups who wanted to learn more about the environment.

As they have continued to do up until today, volunteers carried out a great deal of office, library research and information work.

During the Whitlam era, the Centre received grants from the federal Government, enabling the establishment of the Environmental Resource Library and the production of books, and other media for sale and distribution.

In January 1975 the Centre moved to the first floor of 102 Bathurst Street where it remained for 33 years.

After the initial rush of excitement and organisation building of the early 70’s the Centre settled down to operate as it was intended: a resource and meeting centre for community groups and the public. The Wilderness Society operated from Centre for the first few years of its life, and much of the work to save the Franklin River was undertaken at the Centre.

Education has been a core activity of TEC since the 1980s when teachers, such as Helen Pryor, were employed to develop educational materials and activities for school children.
From TEC to SLT

The 1990s saw sustainability becoming the catch-cry of the environment movement. TEC begin to strengthen its links with other community groups and to collaborate with them in projects aimed at directly affecting our local environment.

After the recruitment of Margaret Steadman as Director in August 1997, TEC began to focus more on urban sustainability issues.

The first Environmental Home Expo (Festival) was held in 1999 and has grown from strength to strength annually since then. Recent Sustainable Living Expos have attracted over 10,000 visitors in a single weekend; that around 5% of Hobart's population who want to live more sustainably.

For the last four years Sustainable Living has been on the first floor of 71 Murray Street. Walking the talk, so to speak, they’ve almost finished renovating the space using reclaimed and recycled materials, with the help of a team of volunteers and generous support of suppliers of eco-friendly products. Soon there will be an exhibition space for businesses to display their goods and services – effectively extending the reach of the Sustainable Living Festival.

Todd Houstein took over as Executive Officer from Margaret Steadman in July 2010. Under Todd’s capable guidance, SLT has significantly expanded its role in promoting energy efficiency in Tasmania with a team of qualified and experienced Home Energy Assessors.

SLT is now an organisation with a resource library with over 6000 items, attracting state and federal grants in excess of $1.5M, doing projects that provide lasting benefits to Tasmanians – to name just a few: teaching children and their parents how to grow and enjoy fresh food, and installing water- and energy-saving devices in the homes of low-income and elderly Tasmanians so these homes are more comfortable and cheaper to run.

SLT shows every day that

Tasmanians do care about each other
Individuals can make a difference
We can create strong, resilient communities
Change can be pleasant and enjoyable.

SLT has proved this and intends to continue proving it until what we’re calling Sustainable becomes known as Normal.

In 40 years much has changed, however much has stayed the same. These words from the TECs 1973 statement of aims remain relevant today:

These last few years have seen a mounting storm of concern for our global environment. The sudden, urgent realisation that our small Earth has limited resources of air, land and water has brought forth critical reviews of man’s present life style. Can we afford to go on living the way we do? Should we not take stock of our numbers, list our resources, identify our biological neighbours and plan our existence accordingly? Must the profit motive continue to take precedence in our attitudes to our natural environment and, more importantly, the environment we hand on to future generations? Can we not create aesthetic harmony between our human structures and the natural landscape where individual and communal needs demand a modification to the natural environment?

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