Fling and the Environment

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Fling.  What impressed me most  was your awareness of the environment.  I loved how you showed other race directors that these things could be done – even on such a large scale.  Your ‘no bottled water’ policy, garbage recycling, non-plastic plates and cutlery, string to tie on the number plates etc were such great additions to an already excellent cycling event.  In fact I went home to Queensland and started my own event (an adventure race) with similar environmental aspects…

Jan Leverton, Tri Events

Chasing the Holy Grail – Responsible Fun!

For a number of years, we’ve felt a little guilty about the resources putting on our events consume and the fuel burnt by riders coming to these events by car or plane. The great advantage of the events however are the huge health and social benefits they offer, and the opportunities they provide for community and charity fundraising.

Wild Horizons has a strong record on environmental initiatives.

In 2007 The Highland Fling became Australia’s first cycling event to go Carbon Neutral. We calculated every aspect of energy used to run the Highland Fling (right down to travel for the water tanker and portaloo delivery, as well as the generators that powered the coffee vans). We then offset that coal-fired power load by helping fund the equivalent energy from Australasian energy efficiency and renewable biomass projects. The Fling was Carbon Neutral for three years, up until 2009.

However, for various reasons, including the uncertainty surrounding the roll out of a national Emissions Trading Scheme or Carbon Tax, finding Australian-based projects suitable for carbon offsetting became difficult.

A Sustainable event means an engaged community.

Robust environmental efforts are only effective when a community is fully engaged with them. A wide variety of local community groups have embraced the Highland Fling’s minimal waste objectives and for their efforts they are able to access much needed fundraising.

We absolutely recognise that what we are doing is relatively small in the scheme of things and there is plenty we do that could be criticised from a sustainability perspective. For us, environmental concerns must always be balanced against running a great event in an efficient manner to the benefit of all our riders, our community and our sponsors.

Sustainability Initiatives for the Highland Fling.

Together we can make the Fling a sustainably run event.

We continue to put together a whole heap of initiatives for riders who want to contribute to a saner, more sustainable world. We ask you to have a quick look through to familiarise yourself with some of our initiatives. When you come to the event please be mindful of the stunning country that is host to us, the friendly community of Bundanoon and each other as fellow riders. Small positive acts repeated can make a big difference and with your help we can make the Fling a really great sustainable event.

A Waste Wise Event.

The Highland Fling continues to be a waste wise event. We provide on-site waste and recycling separation facilities at the Event Centre on the Sunday. In conjunction with not putting out bins elsewhere, this ensures our return to landfill is minimised. Volunteers run the main waste sorting station at the Event Centre and will be on hand to help you separate your recycling from general rubbish.

Get Waste Wise!

When it comes to waste we are all the problem and we are all the solution. Think about what you consume and make choice that result in less waste. Avoid lots of unnecessary packaging and use re-usable containers whenever you can. Get to know the waste that you do produce and how to deal with it responsibly.

Wild Horizons encourages event participants to fully engage with the Fling’s low waste ethic: please bring your bowls and cups and remember that improperly discarding rubbish during the event is official grounds for disqualification. You will find that at the main Event Centre that there are no scattered bins. All waste is to be taken to a central area where it is sorted. Please bring your waste here or take it home with you.

Compostable or Recyclable Containers

Did you know that recycling takes up a lot of energy? Sure, its better than throwing something away and that’s why we should all do it. But environmentally speaking, composting is better by a long shot. That’s why at the Fling, all event caterers are required to provide compostable or recyclable plates, bowls and cutlery.

Use your own Reusable Coffee Cups

Did you know that some 1 billion takeaway coffee cups are used in Australia each year. 1 BILLION! And they are not recycled. We encourage everyone to bring their own refillable cup to the event. As an incentive, if you take a refillable cup to our coffee vans on Sunday they will give you a raffle ticket. We will draw a winner for a very fine prize at the end of the day. Our MC’s have also been instructed to pick out random reusable coffee cup users and given them a prize.

Where are the cups at the Feed Stations?

Every year at the Fling we provide riders with food and drink at a number of ‘feed stations’ around the course. We‘ve made the decision not to supply disposable cups at these locations as part of our efforts to reduce waste at the event. We strongly encourage riders to carry refillable bottles or other drinks containers which may be filled up at the feed stations.


Bundy on Tap – Australia’s first bottled water free town

The Highland Fling operates as a Bottled Water Free event. This is in keeping with the village of Bundanoon’s position as Australia’s First Bottled Water Free Town. No single use bottled water will be sold at the Fling (or anywhere in Bundanoon). Plenty of tap or tank water refill facilities will be provided for event participants, marshalls and visitors.

(Since Bundanoon went bottled water free in September 2009, worldwide recognition of this endeavour has been enormous, with Huw Kingston—the man behind both that initiative and the Highland Fling—being honoured by Time Magazine as one of their 25 Global Responsibility Pioneers as well as being selected as news.com.au’s 2009 Green Hero amongst many other awards).

Know your Lube!

As we all know, a happy bike is a well-lubricated bike and there are plenty of lube options on the market. What you might not realize is a large number of those lubes are full of highly toxic chemicals. Just take a look at the small print and scary warning symbols on the back of that can! The worst offender is PTFE, better known as Teflon. Recent scientific data has shown that PTFE is a bioaccumulative toxin that causes thyroid problems, is a known carcinogen and is toxic to the immune system. Sounds grim! When we put this stuff on our bikes it ultimately ends up in the environment. Before you throw up your hands we’d like to draw attention to the arrival of some great new products that are arriving on the market, which are not only biodegradable and eco-friendly but are also top-quality lubricants.

Bye Bye Cable Tie

There was a time when a rider in a race would use four strips of plastic to attach a race number to their bike. After the race those strips of plastic would be thrown in the bin and spend the next few thousand years sat in a hole in the ground. Times this by thousands of riders and you have a lot of waste plastic. A little while back we decided that we could do better so we came up with a simple idea – instead of handing out cable ties you get some bits of string made from natural plant fibres. The material is renewable and it rots when you’ve finished with it. With each rider tying their own knots it doesn’t take long to achieve the same job as the cable ties, but without the impact.


Did you know that one of the biggest environmental impacts of an event is transporting people to it? Unless you literally live just up the road then the chances are you’ll be burning some fossil fuels to reach us (unless you’re a really committed cyclist!)

Car Share to show you care

We’d like to suggest a great way that you can reduce your transport footprint – car-pooling.  You can take the car-share idea and apply after the Fling too. When travelling to bike events, or weekend rides, check around for others headed the same way and travel together. An average Australian passenger car emits just less than 200 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled. For larger 4WDs this is almost 50% higher, at just under 300 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Two riders car-sharing cuts these figures in half, whilst providing companionship to brag or commiserate with.

Be car wise:

There are a few simple pointers that can help minimise the impact of driving your car to the event.

The Rack

Where possible drive with your bike stowed inside your vehicle. It’s more secure and sure cuts down on fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Empty roof racks decrease a car’s fuel efficiency by up to 10%. Stick our favourite sports toy up on top and your fuel economy may plummet by up to 27%.


Check your car tyre pressure before setting out on the drive. Properly inflated tyres decrease rolling resistance, meaning your vehicles moves further and faster with less energy consumed. For example you use 3% more fuel if driving 90 km/h with your tyres just 1 bar (or 14 psi) below their recommended pressure.

Unfeel The Need for Speed

Aside from avoidance of speeding fines—sure to put the dampener on an otherwise great weekend jaunt—travel at higher speeds makes your vehicle work harder, causing it to draw on extra fuel. Your car uses 25% more fuel charging about at 110km/h than cruising along at 90km/h. For every extra litre of fuel expended, another 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted.

Air in Your Hair

Similarly, using car air conditioning increases your car’s fuel consumption and therefore greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10%. And studies show that using the A/C under 18°C offers no difference in passenger comfort anyhow.