Sustainable Melbourne

EDIT: I am very pleased to note that this feature, originally published in Honda Magazine, has won the Australian Society of Travel Writers’ 2014 award for Best Responsible Tourism feature.

Little Hunter, 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne

Travel
can be a guilty pleasure for the green-minded, but Melbourne shows how to blend
ecology and exploration without stinting on the good times, discovers Belinda
Jackson.



SHOP SUSTAINABLY
For
clothes with karma, vintage clothing is the classic sustainable fashion option:
what goes around, comes around.  Forget
fusty, Melbourne’s top shops yield fabulous finds. Check out one of Australia’s
largest vintage stores, Retrostar,
in the equally vintage Nicholas Building (1st floor, Nicholas Building,
37 Swanston St), while Shag finds all its clothing in
Melbourne (Centreway Arcade) and Circa
Vintage
has fashion dating from the Victorian era (1st Floor, Mitchell House, 358 Lonsdale St). 
Serious hunters, book your spot on a Melbourne Op Shop tour (0421 431 2780421 431 278, melbourneopshoptours.com.au).
Don’t want to wear clothes made by small children or
workers in life-threatening factories? Melbourne’s Etiko sources eco-friendly range of footwear and clothing from
owner co-ops in Argentina and Pakistani micro-businesses, so you can look good
outside and feel good inside. Shop online or see etiko.com.au for stockists.
Lisa Gorman designs
You can go green with current fashion: each season, top
Melbourne designer Lisa Gorman releases her gorman organic range, which uses organic and sustainably produced
fabrics produced without pesticides or with non-chemical processing (GPO Melbourne, Bourke
St Mall, gormanshop.com.au).
Out of the CBD grid, make like a Melburnian and jump a
tram for the fashion label, shop and café that is Social Studio for limited-edition garments handmade from reclaimed
and up-cycled material (126-128 Smith St, Collingwood, thesocialstudio.org).  On Saturdays, dig for handmade treasures at
the artists’ haven of Rose Street
Markets
(60 Rose St, Fitzroy).
ON THE TABLE
You know organic
and sustainable production are on trend when the quest takes you to some of the
city’s top tables, including Vue de
Monde
, for its salt-cured wallaby (Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins St) and the signature smoked trout broth at Attica,
recently voted number 21 in the world’s top restaurants (74 Glen Eira Rd,
Ripponlea). Even old-school can go new school, as Italian dining staple Cecconi’s has demonstrated, becoming
the first restaurant to compost its food waste through the Closed Loop system:
the compost is used to grow vegetables on its Bellarine Peninsula farm (61
Flinders La).
Head underground to a recent Melbourne edition, Little Hunter, tucked away beneath city
streets, and order up on beef from the remote Tasmanian locations of Cape Grim and Robbin
Island or tiny Chatham Island’s Blue Cod with seagrasses.
Chef Gavin Baker sources all produces from farmers committed to organic
production and humane treatment (downstairs, 195 Little Collins St)
Melbourne’s café
scene is justly famous: check out the winner of the 2012 Tourism Victoria
Sustainability award, Silo by Joost, a
café that doesn’t have garbage bin. Everything is recycled, renewed or
composted, including the bench you’re sitting at (123 Hardware St, 03 9600
0588). Meanwhile, newcomer Dukes
Coffee Roasters
is pushing toward a carbon-neutrality with its emphasis on
minimising waste and off-set power, with organic and ethically produced
products. What does that mean for you? Seriously fine coffee (247 Flinders La).
And shoppers at Melbourne Central can grab a cuppa at social enterprise STREAT Café, which has so far trained
60 young homeless and at-risk kids into a hospitality career (Cnr Elizabeth
& La Trobe St and 5 McKillop St).
Kinfolk cafe, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne
Kinfolk is a rare bird: it is environmentally sustainable and also socially
responsible, its staff training volunteers to run serve local, organic,
good-tasting food. A private enterprise by young entrepreneur Jarrod Briffa,
its high overheads are eased by the generosity of its patrons: coffee is
donated by crop-to-cup pioneers Di Bella, while meat is from renowned Barossa
organic producer Saskia Beer (673 Bourke St).


And
finally, self-caterers can find local produce at Queen Victoria Markets, which also has a section devoted to organic
fresh fruit and vegies (513 Elizabeth St).
PLAY NICELY
A night
on the town can also be good for your conscience when you start (or end) with a
drink at Shebeen, Australia’s first
not-for-profit bar. All profits go back to the countries where their drinks are
sourced: think Chilean wines, Sri Lankan beer, South African cider, (36
Manchester Lane).
Melbourne is also a playground for ‘green’ brewers. Pope Joan pours beers from Victorian independent
breweries such as Victoria’s Secret Hoppy Wheat Beer from North Melbourne and
Moondog ‘Love Tap’ Double Lager from Abbotsford (77 Nicholson St, Brunswick
East). Get on your bike into the Mountain
Goat Brewery
for real beer and pizza (Wednesdays & Fridays, 80 North
St, Richmond) or tram it to Monkey  for local, organic and biodynamic wine, beer and
cheese (181 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North).
Alto on Bourke hotel
ECO-EXPLORE

Take a walking tour of the
city to orientate yourself (1300 311 0811300 311 081, melbournebyfoot.com)
and uncover the city’s vivid street art scene (03 9328 555603 9328 5556, melbournestreettours.com) or to get under the city’s skin, through its literature and laneways
(0407 380 9690407 380 969,meltours.com.au) Hit the shops with hunters of high quirk
(03 9663 335803 9663 3358, hiddensecretstours.com) or discover the city’s Aboriginal heart
(03 8622 260003 8622 2600, koorieheritagetrust.com)

SLEEP EASY

Alto on Bourke is Australia’s first carbon-neutral hotel
and winner of domestic and international sustainability awards. The 4-star
hotel uses 100 per cent renewable energy, harvests its rainwater, recycles and
uses energy-efficient cars. There are even beehives on the roof, as part of
Melbourne’s rooftop honey project: see the results on the breakfast buffet
alongside the fairtrade coffee (rooftophoney.com.au) There are 50 hotel rooms from petites to
three-bedroom apartments with full kitchenettes, employing the best environmentally
aware technology including LED lighting, low-water showerheads and an electric
Goget hire car on site, with free parking for all hybrid cars  (1800 135 1231800 135 123, altohotel.com.au)

GETTING AROUND GREEN
The best start to a green escape is to offset your airline flight, which
costs around $2 per flight. Melbourne’s CBD grid is a walker’s paradise: you
can cross the city by foot in about 20 minutes. Otherwise, it’s a short tram or
bus ride: the red Number 86 City Circle
tram
does free tours, as does the Melbourne
Shuttle Bus
(131 638, thatsmelbourne.com.au) If you need a car, consider a green car, which can be hired by the
hour from $15 (try flexicar.com.au,  greensharecar.com.au
or goget.com.au) or go
luxe with an eco-limo (ecolimo.com.au) Melbourne
Bike Share
hires bike for 30 minutes for free (1300 71 5901300 71 590, melbournebikeshare.co.au)

DIARY DATE
Keep a day free for the 2014 Sustainable Living Festival,
held annually in Melbourne. Expect fabulous fashion, thoughtful thinktanks,
green markets, gardening and art. Now on until 23 February, 2014, slf.org.au.
This article was published in Honda magazine. 

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