Opinion

Local Change, One Keep Cup at a Time

Honours Research Fellow Gemma Viney discusses how SEI’s research on plastic pollution & waste inspired the Hurlstone Park Football club to join the war on plastic.

SEI Co-Director David Schlosberg and Honours Fellow Gemma Viney.

Hurlstone Park football club is one of the largest clubs in the Canterbury district soccer and football association. The football club is one of the several clubs situated along the Cooks River valley, one of the most polluted waterways in Australia. As a member of the club, it is impossible to ignore the impact of waste on our natural, surrounding environment. This year, however, Hurlstone Park Wanderers decided to do something about it.

Inspired by the Waste-Free and anti-plastic information provided by the Sydney Environment Institute, Rosalie Viney, Competition Secretary of the Hurlstone Park Wanderers, initiated a push for waste reduction and a higher environmental consciousness within our club. Rosalie is my mother and was introduced to the work of the SEI through my Honours Fellowship. My family has been members of the club community for over 15 years. Therefore, when it came to making positive environmental changes in our family, it only made sense to extend those changes to the club as well.

The big issue we wanted to tackle was the amount of waste produced by the club each weekend. If you’ve ever been to a football field at 8:30 on a Saturday morning you’ll know the all too familiar sight of exhausted parents accompanying eager (and sometimes not so eager) 5 and 6-year-olds to their games come rain, hail or shine. Coffee is essential to their Saturday morning routine, and there is a significant amount of waste associated with takeaway coffee. The next logical step was jumping on board the keep cup craze.

The Hurlstone Park reusable cup.

Hurlstone Park joined the war on waste this year with the creation of Hurlstone Park reusable cups, which are perfect for the morning coffee run. They were coordinated by Rosalie and the Hurlstone Park Wanderers Committee as a way to minimise the environmental impact of our club. The club also organised a deal with the regular coffee van to offer a discount to those with a reusable cup. In order to reduce the use of takeaway cups, Hurlstone Park reusable cups are sold at the club canteen and offered to rent for the morning.

In the 2017 season, Hurlstone Park Wanderers reusable cups slowly began to gain traction. However, the hope now is to commit to an even more cohesive and expansive environmental strategy for 2018. The SEI has inspired a change in the club with lasting benefits and potential for broader impacts given the size and engagement of Hurlstone Park Wanderers. Additionally, we hope that this commitment will be taken up by other clubs, introducing a greater consideration for the environment and the impacts of waste into local community sport.


Gemma Viney is a 2017 Honours Research Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute, in the Department of Government and International Relations, The University of Sydney. Gemma’s Honours thesis undertook a content analysis of Aboriginal and farming community submissions to the government and applied environmental justice theories in the examination of how relationships are forming between Aboriginal and farming communities in rural NSW in response to extractive industry.