A super-quick update on a super-green day yesterday.

A volunteer with some recovered objects: a wine glass (unchipped), a rubber snake, and a fish plate

I was up early to catch the ferry over to Manly for Clean Up Australia Day. I was on underwater cleanup duties, and joined a small group of divers to kit up in scuba gear. I’m used to diving in tropical waters surrounded by colourful corals and vivid fishies, so it was rather different to walk in off the beach into Sydney Harbour. The water was rather murky, and initially I thought there wouldn’t be much to see. Not that I was there to sight-see anyway, but it would be a bonus.

In fact, we saw loads. Three cuttlefish, a ray, an octopus, and a wobbagong shark. And unfortunately loads of trash as well. The divers patrol this area regularly, so we weren’t expected to find much, but still came back with a haul of plastic bags, beer cans, jars, a baseball cap, an apron, and a fish-shaped plate.

4,000 cigarette butts

The beach-combers had been busy too. Altogether, the stats for the day were:

40 volunteers

95 kgs (210 pounds) general rubbish, of which….

83 kgs (183 pounds) was recyclable

and loads of fishing line, including some that was wrapped around a poor seagull, with the hook through its leg. The seagull was taken to the vet for medical attention.

And this on a popular beach that is cleaned on a regular basis. What a load of rubbish – in every sense.

The Greenhouse

Last night I rounded off a good green day with dinner at the greenest restaurant I have ever been to, called, appropriately, the Greenhouse. It is a temporary restaurant in a prime location between Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, made out of recycled and recyclable stud partitions and shipping containers. The chairs are made out of irrigation pipes and leather offcuts. We drank wine out of jam jars. Plates were flat wooden boards. The floor was made out of discarded conveyor belts.

The food was as spectacular as the views. After sundowner cocktails on the roof garden, we went downstairs to order our dinner: five-spiced cauliflower, crushed baby peas with ortiz anchovy and mint, a salad of quinoa, radish and avocado, sweetcorn on the cob with cumin and coriander, and a daily special of spicy lamb. Delicious.

The owner, Joost Bakker, came over and showed us the hand-cranked mill they use to make their oatmeal. They also mill their own flour on the premises, and bake it into bread and pizza bases. He is as passionate about the freshness of their food as he is about recyclable architecture.

The Greenhouse amply demonstrates that it’s possible to be hip and green at the same time. As the sun went down the restaurant was lit by beeswax tealight candles, and the contemporary music was exactly the right volume to be heard while not drowning out conversation.

Sundowners on the roof. Wearing Sydney Opera House on my head.

If I’m sounding like a drooling restaurant critic, it’s because I was impressed – with the food, the ambience, and most of all the philosophy. There is already a permanent Greenhouse in Perth (hurrah!). But if you want to get to the Sydney branch, you’ll have to get there soon – it’s due to be dismantled on March 28. I hope that Greenhouse becomes a global phenomenon. A branch floating in mid-Indian Ocean would be especially much appreciated, please, Joost?

Other Stuff:

Thanks to Joost, Harriet and Will for a great evening at Greenhouse.

Thanks to Dave Thomas and Eco Divers for a very special eco dive.

Thanks also to my trusty volunteers who are doing such a great job on the blog archive organization. Many hands are making light work. Much appreciated!


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