Reuse and recycle

According to Cleanup Australia, Australians are among the highest waste producers in the world, generating almost 41 million tonnes of rubbish each year, half of which is either being dumped in the environment or sent to landfill where it can’t be recycled. The simple act of recycling one tin-can saves enough electricity to keep a TV running for three hours. So imagine what could be achieved if we decorated our homes with sustainability in mind.

 

According to Cleanup Australia, Australians are among the highest waste producers in the world, generating almost 41 million tonnes of rubbish each year, half of which is either being dumped in the environment or sent to landfill where it can’t be recycled. The simple act of recycling one tin-can saves enough electricity to keep a TV running for three hours. So imagine what could be achieved if we decorated our homes with sustainability in mind.

The beauty of repurposing is that there’s no limit to how creative you can be. Wooden crates, stacked on their sides, become a rustic bookshelf. Empty flour sacks make striking cushion covers. Old fabrics can be stretched on a frame for instant wall art. Empty jars and bottles are the perfect vessels for sprouting succulents. Combining imagination with resourcefulness is the perfect recipe for reducing the ever-climbing mountain of rubbish.

Ex-fitter and turner and marine engineer, Don Glasby, has had plenty of experience reusing and recycling. He was the chairman for the Gladstone Men’s Shed, where they mainly made toys from recycled materials, for disabled children in collaboration with the special school. He lived on acreage for 35 years, before he and his wife Raelene downsized their home and moved into town. When the garden got too much for them, they moved a second time. Now residents at The Lakes in Bundaberg North, Don is in the process of setting up The Lakes North Project Shed, where the community can work alongside each other.

“We’ve been to the tip and found things like old doors, which have already been turned into a cupboard to store our tools,” he said. “I’m still in touch with the shed in Gladstone, because they’re going to donate us some tools. I’m just assessing the sort of things we’ll need.”

Don says mindfulness is key when it comes to what you’re going to throw away or recycle. Think about if its place is really in the bin, if you can give it away or turn it into something new. “We’re very careful about what we discard – I’m a bit of a hoarder, really. Our rubbish tin’s only ever a quarter full. So many people throw so much stuff away but there are other people in the community who’d love to have those things.

In his own home, Don’s already done several renovations and made furniture using sustainable materials. “Since we moved into the village I’ve made a couple of changes to our house. Raelene didn't have many drawers in the kitchen and wanted some more, so I reused the doors and shelves that I took out of the cupboard, turned them into drawers, and put ‘lazy susans’ in all the cupboards too, so she doesn't have to bend down too far.

I’ve made drawers for the computer room from scrap material, and a few pieces of furniture like bookshelves and tables. Where I can, I use materials I’ve collected. Most of the things I make come from scrap material. Hardware stores and places like Bunnings often throw material away if it’s slightly damaged, even with a tiny chip. Personally, I love working with fine grain timber, inlaying timber and stuff like that. I always keep busy. Making things helps keep me young.”