Sydney, the harbour city: Sailing towards a greener future

As the first established city in Australia, Sydney has become one of the most iconic cosmopolitan cities in the world. Surrounded by national parks, Sydney also has various parks and trails for both visitors and locals to relax and enjoy nature. The city was certified as carbon neutral in 2011, with an estimated 30,000 street trees, and 15.5% total tree canopy covers. Waste-wise, the city is currently trialling food scrap bins for residents, where the food waste can be used for compost or fertilisers. Currently, the Sustainable Sydney 2030 sets several goals for the future of Sydney, with ambitious objectives such as having 0% increase in potable water use by 2030 (from 2006 baseline). Here’s a look at some recommended places and some very handy tips for your next visit to this beautiful city.


The Potting Shed – The Potting Shed sits at the heart of Grounds of Alexandria, with a lush surrounding covered by hanging plants and pots. With matching farm shed decorations, it displays a rather welcoming combination of rusty tools and greenery. The drinks come with a paper straw, and the food has both gluten free and vegan options. Food scraps goes into composter onsite for the gardens to lower food waste.

Hot tip: To reduce travel pollution, if you carpool with four people, you can redeem one free coffee, and if the group arrive by bikes, everyone receives a free coffee! (Check out my review on One Planet Rating here)



There is a wide variety of places to choose from in Sydney. Make sure to choose ones that:

  • Actively conserve energy (e.g. installed LED and/or skylights)
  • Have proper waste and water management schemes
  • Offers local cuisines and produces
  • Have eco-certifications such as one issued by Ecotourism Australia. Green Getaways is a handy website for finding several sustainable accommodations in Australia.



Citizen Wolf

Fabrics sourced from Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certified Australian suppliers which ensure no labour exploitation. They also have a short and ethical supply chain that is organic certified. Choose your own style and fabric, and they will tailor it to you. Plus, they also upcycle scraps, with free lifetime repair to ensure the shirts do not go into landfill.



Royal Botanic Garden

This 30-hectare garden is situated on the waterfront of Sydney, with a large diversity of plant collections and frequent exhibitions. Visitors can download the Royal Botanic Garden app for self-guided tour, or enjoy a free 1.5 hr guided tour at 10:30 am daily. It also hosts a variety of events, such as Aboriginal art class, sustainable living workshops and family activities. Check out the review on One Planet Rating.


Sydney Opera House

As the most iconic building in Sydney, this UNESCO World Heritage was recently awarded 4 green stars rating by Green Building Council Australia in 2015. Contrary to popular belief, the final design was inspired by orange peels, rather than white sails. Its original architect, Jorn Utzon, also designed a method to take in seawater from the harbour to cool its air-conditioning system. Many of the lights were also upgraded from traditional to LED, and the building also recently became carbon neutral. From orchestras to Shakespeare plays, classical music concerts to indigenous Australian performances, the Opera House is a must-visit for everyone in Sydney!


  • For public transport, you can check out Sydney Trains website for routes, maps and alerts. I recommend the Tripview app for offline train timetables and real-time updates. Also, it is best to get an Opal Card that can be used on trains, buses, light rails and ferries for a discounted fare. Check out here for opal fare prices.
  • Cycleway Finder: The NSW Government website to find cycling infrastructures and routes. A downloadable map can also be found here. Bike sharing is also a great way to get around, with companies such as oBike providing dock-less bike sharing services. Be sure to read through the bike rider handbook for safety rules and information.
  • Sydney Sights Free Walking Tour: there are 2 free walking tours everyday (except Christmas), at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm departing from Town Hall Square. The 2.5-3 hr walk will cover heritage buildings, sights and history of Sydney. There is also a 6 pm The Rocks Tour, which covers the history of The Rocks more in-depth.
  • The Sydney Light-rail Project is currently (as of 2018) under construction and is set to complete in early 2020. At the moment, be prepared for construction noise, light and dust.
  • There are plenty of walks and hikes in and around Sydney for nature-loving travellers. My personal favourite? Spit Bridge-Manly walk. Just look at the view from the photo below!

This blog is authored by OPR’s Ambassador from Sydney Ting-Yu Wang. He is a current Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts student with Biology and Environmental and Resource Economics majors at the University of Sydney. Ting-Yu is passionate about anything that is biology and environment related. He loves volunteering in his spare times, and enjoys learning more about the natural world. He wanted to be an OPR Ambassador because, as one of the largest industries in the world, tourism has the best ability to promote a sustainable impact around the world. He believes, through OPR, sustainable travel can help nurture a better world shared by both people and animals.

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