Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the National Sustainability Conference for 2020 and addressed the topic of ‘Community & Circular Economy beating at the heart of Sustainable Cities’. My focus was on communicating the vital place that the circular economy model has in our city and country’s future. I also shared insights into World’s Biggest Garage Sale’s journey so far, as well as the many lessons learned along the way.
Founded by the Association for Sustainability in Business, the National Sustainability Conference is a wonderful platform for World’s Biggest Garage Sale and our message of creating a more sustainable future for all. Like many large-scale gatherings, the conference stepped outside the box and delivered the entirety of its event online. However, this did not stop a range of highly skilled and visionary speakers from presenting their visions and proactive plans for a brighter and cleaner future.
World’s Biggest Garage Sale was born from an overabundance of ‘stuff’. The household items no longer used or needed, relegated to a dark and dingy cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes people take these items to a local charity shop or ‘dare we say it’, pop them in the bin. As a society, we’re often after the fastest outcome with the least hassle. It’s precisely this behaviour that has led to approximately $43 billion worth of under utilised ‘stuff’ in Australian homes and $500 billion (USD) in lost revenue per year due to underutilisation and a lack of recycling. Our solution was to reclaim dormant goods so that we could renew their potential – to shift from linear economy norm to a revolutionary circular model. And it all started with a question of ‘how do we solve this ‘donor fatigue’?’.
Since then, it’s been our mission to make repurposing as easy as it can possibly be. Partnering with big corporations so that we can do the groundwork and make sure that their ‘waste’ is transformed into something much more. On a larger scale, it’s about how we as an organisation can do our small part within the big landscape of the circular economy. A buzzword we use is ‘glocal’, meaning a global focus with local heart. These partnerships between big corporation, small corporation, charity and community are so essential because no one can do this all on their own.
Our philosophy is to execute first and then learn on the job.
We ran our Retail Rescue popup earlier this year which saw 40 pallets of dormant goods be sorted for renewal and repurposing. Revitalising these items for resale enabled us to divert from landfill and earn a profit for charitable causes. Not only that, but it helped us to envision a scaleable version of this ‘makerspace’ in which dormant goods are regularly received and renewed to reclaim a place in the current economy. Now with our new home at the Rivermakers The Depot in Morningside, this dream is starting to become a reality.
Our vision of a circular economy shopping precinct and the sublimation of resale into retail is a concept bigger than just our organisation. We are focused on activating dormant goods in a way which creates financial viability and the creation of jobs in our community. It’s long been a belief of mine that the future of our economy is ultimately relational, not transactional. Our work is always aligned with achieving as many of the Sustainable Development Goals as possible, and it’s exciting to these become part of the vernacular.
Social connections are an important part of our growth – it’s not ‘us’ and them’ but ‘us’ and ‘we’.
If you’re equally passionate about a circular economy future or are interested in further education about our purpose, please get in touch with us via our website or social media! If you have dormant goods looking for a new home, we would love to see you at our Makerspace at The Depot, Morningside.