AU Join the feel-good recycling drive
Property Here - Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Reverse Garbage CEO Narelle Mantel at the store in Marrickville with some objects that have been recycled for home decorating. Picture: Fotiadis John. Source: News Limited
IT'S so easy to toss out things we no longer have use for. Everything from toasters to bed linen and outgrown children's toys hits the footpath faster than a fashion trend hits the back of the wardrobe.
Council clean-ups are a hub of activity, with the scrap metal merchants doing a roaring trade and residents touring the streets to find unwanted treasures before the council trucks snake their way through the suburbs.
Savvy owners can make a dollar or two buying and selling on eBay or Gumtree, but the vast majority of us are consigned to binning what we no longer like or need.
Still, in a world cluttered with waste, there is a nagging sense of contributing to the problem of landfill. So what other options are there?
In fact, there are plenty.
One of the most innovative solutions is freecycle.org.
Now in Australia, this US-based organisation, which began as a recycling drive in Arizona and is operating in 110 countries, recently celebrated its 10th birthday.
Rather than seeing perfectly good items being thrown away, local non-profit groups were called to see if they could use the odd bits and pieces.
Cities where they operate have volunteer moderators; in Sydney there are 14 different groups servicing areas including Fairfield, Hurstville, Pittwater and Bankstown.
Anyone is welcome to post items to be given away or seek items to pick up. No money is exchanged and there are no strings attached. Freecycle.org creates a circle of giving and in the process reports it is currently keeping more than 500 tonnes a day out of landfills.
Their motto is ``changing the world one gift at a time'', with freecycle.org estimating the amount of items gifted over the past year worldwide, whether it be an old computer, door or pile of dirt, as the equivalent to over 15 times the height of Mt Everest when stacked in garbage trucks.
Ziilch.com is another forum that will both list your stuff for free and take your goods for free. It's just one way to better manage your rubbish, as opposed to simply heaping it on the median strip.
JOIN THE GARAGE SALE TRAIL
City of Sydney resource recovery manager, Leisha Deguara, says the amount of reusable or recyclable waste being thrown away is phenomenal.
Council clean-ups often encourage a disproportionate amount of waste because residents are in a rush to make the cut-off date, even when it's planned. Very little thought goes into what constitutes rubbish and what could be recycled.
``We try to encourage people to throw out as little as possible and that actually starts when you go shopping,'' Leisha says.
``Think about what you're buying, does it have durability and extended use? Do you need it in the first place?
``Waste avoidance is a huge issue, and if you've bought something that you no longer want, can someone else re-use it or can it be turned into something else?
``A lot of the garbage that ends up in council's hands can be re-used or diverted. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to deal with all that waste, process what we can from the clean-up and extract what is recyclable.''
She says residents need to be conscientious about what they are throwing out and make a list of what can be salvaged.
``Give the Salvation Army a call, it can be as simple as that or have a garage sale.''
Leisha recommends getting involved with organisations such as Garage Sale Trail if you want to make a real difference.
The next Garage Sale Trail will be held on October 26 on what will be a national day of simultaneous garage sales. Sellers can register and promote their sale for free on the Garage Sale Trail website.
``One person's trash is another person's treasure, and Garage Sale Trail promotes the re-use of items in one of the best ways I've seen,'' says PR spokesman Kim McKay.
Or there are organisations such as Dress For Success, which accept unwanted business-quality women's suits and work clothes for disadvantaged women re-entering the workforce and provides practical advice in preparation for job interviews.
The Sydney showroom at Marrickville is staffed Monday-Friday with client appointments Tuesday-Saturday.
Reverse Garbage is a well-known Sydney company which manages unwanted products. For 40 years they have been making unwanted items look good, and CEO Narelle Mantel says Australians are slowly learning to appreciate that most things can be re-used and re-loved.
But Narelle doesn't use the word garbage to explain the goods for sale in Reverse Garbage. Instead, her goods are ``resources'' which offer creative re-use.
The last 10 years have seen phenomenal changes: ``Things have changed,'' she says. ``Turnover has increased and people are keen to go green. It's grown from a business that used to attract teachers and students to now getting home renovators and artists and pretty much anyone in between.''
Some unique items that been given to Reverse Garbage recently include an antique go-kart and props from The Great Gatsby.
``We're really cheap and the resources are great -- it's not rubbish. We're got theatre production companies coming to Reverse Garbage to get materials to build props and then donating back to us when they're done so it's a real treasure trove in here,'' she says.
``We put our money where our mouth is; we've turned hessian coffee bean stacks into cushion covers and milk crates into ottomans.
``When you look at a piece of junk, it's really not.''
Narelle encourages people to visit Reverse Garbage with an open mind.
``I call it guilt-free shopping. You don't spend very much and you contribute to saving the environment. It's a huge social justice commitment and it's not making one person rich.
``Most things are of value,'' Narelle says. ``We encourage people to reuse because you can't recycle our planet.''
Avoid landfill trail
Don't buy what you don't really need.
Before a council clean-up make a list of things that can be donated/sold/re-used or recycled.
Make contact with the various organisations committed to keeping unnecessary items out of landfill and see what they can use.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/realestate/news/join-the-feelgood-recycling-drive/story-fncq3gat-1226676370310#ixzz2YWWezFIJ