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Circular Economy

The original conservation and sustainability leaders and do-ers.

I would like to begin this post by acknowledging the Yugerra people, the traditional Custodians of the land on which I’m writing to you from today, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also would like to acknowledge that this land holds practices and knowledge which were implemented for thousands of generations before me.

The 26th of January is a controversial day in Australians’ calendars. It’s a National day that was chosen based on the arrival of captain Arthur Phillip and his fleet in 1788 to the shores of the Eora Nation, starting a colony and claiming “discovery” of the land. To some, it’s a day to celebrate nationalism and show patriotism over a BBQ and some beers. To others, the significance of this day is deeper than that. It’s a reminder of colonialism, of invasion of the settlement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s land that lead to a painful reminder of the mistreatment and violence against indigenous people.

Source: Dennis Nona  | Mal lag Ar Apark AW Whural Ar Idal (State 1)

As a Lebanese Australian who has migrated to this beautiful land 12 years ago, it is hard for me to identify with either. However, I choose to celebrate all Australians while paying respect to the people that came before, the traditional owners of the land, the people who respected and used it in sustainable ways. It has been genetically proven through various studies that the Australian Aboriginal population is one of the oldest continuous living cultures in the world. I think that is something to be celebrated and one of the most interesting facts that I like to share with people when asked about Australia. The reason they earned this title is due to their practices and culture, I don’t think they could have done it without respect to the land and sustainably working with it, rather than using it as a finite resource.

A Yuingin [You·in·gin; meaning friend in the Yugara language spoken in the Brisbane area west to Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley, but understood in the Greater Brisbane area of Yugerra] of mine lent me a book last year called Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, which blew my mind. Bruce Pascoe unpicks the settler’s diaries and refutes the idea of the belief that Aboriginal culture was a Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle, an idea perpetuated by the settlers created through their rose-coloured superiority lense. He suggests, through their journals and diaries, concepts of agriculture and land management. These glimpses into pre-colonial Australia are vital in understanding true Australian history and proving that indeed Indigenous Australians were the original fishers, farmers, bread makers, scientists and engineers. Pascoe starts by exploring agricultural practices and animal farming. There are references and stories of planting, husbandry, harvesting and storage. References to rainwater capturing systems. Evidence of animal capturing techniques that ensured a meal but did not obstruct migration and ensured continuity of the species were also revealed. There was evidence of storage spaces of food and preservation techniques, which rendered toxic foods edible and prolonged the life of others. Controlled fires within bush areas and agricultural lands for regeneration and management were also evident in the settler’s journals.

 

 

Source: Doris Gingingara – Emu and Bush Turkey

 

Dark Emu is beautifully grouped into sections, from agriculture and aquaculture to housing and controlled burning, all the way to language and law. I won’t spoil it any further because it is a fascinating read and you’ll just find yourself devouring the book, chapter after chapter, with the thirst to erase your preconceived notions about Australian history and Indigineous culture and re-build your knowledge with an undeniable truth that has been hidden for a long time. Before I stop talking about the book though, I would like to share a couple of quotes with you which resonated with me, from chapter seven “The Australian Agricultural Revolution”, as I feel there are two principles by which we should all be living, Continuance and Respect, two values which are at the heart of all sustainability practices.

 

The life of the clan was devoted to continuance” 

and

There was an underlying conservatism in this approach, a concern for people they might never meet, and a respect for the prey species embedded in the spiritual and cultural fibre.” 

 

Source: Jorna Newberry – Waru Tjukurrpa (Fire Dreaming)

 

With all the fires, floods and hail storms that have struck our beautiful country recently, destroying our land and ecology, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if we still lived in a world where Indigeneous cultures were not only celebrated, but were guiding us on how we use our resources and work with our land.

 

Today, I’m lifting a SOBAH beer (Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer, Aboriginal owned and led) to the people who came before us, the original implementers of sustainable practices, the first farmers, scientists, astronomers, geologists, ecologists and engineers, the Indigineous people of Australia.

 

Become an ally! Ask, research, make an effort.

Find below some recommendations and links I have discovered on my journey of educating myself and writing this blog.

 

 

By: Wassim Sayegh

 

Picture Credits: Japinka Aboriginal Art Online Gallery

Pictures as they appear in the post:
  1. Doris Gingingara - Emu and Bush Turkey
  2. Dennis Nona  | Mal lag Ar Apark AW Whural Ar Idal (State 1)
  3. Jorna Newberry - Waru Tjukurrpa (Fire Dreaming)

Dive into Defining Decade with 2020 Vision

It’s ironic really, that one of the most critical decades for humanity – some would argue the most critical – kicks off in the year 2020. Poetic really. We’re all familiar with the term 2020 Vision – completely seeing the truth of a situation. And by golly that’s exactly what we’re going to need for the next 10 years.

Time to take off the rose coloured glasses. No more denial. No more blinkers on. No more heads in the sand. With only 10 years left at current emissions (or only 9% of the carbon budget left: Global Carbon Project) sound the alarm wherever you are – #climateemergency. The coming 10 years are also imperative for fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 agenda, many of which address climate change.

 

Source: Global Carbon Project

 

Recent fires burning in Australia are a clarion call to all, with scientists saying the fire conditions this year are unparalleled on several fronts. Scientists predicted our current plight many many years ago and we just didn’t listen, or at least the ‘powers that be’ of the time didn’t. Worse still, I suspect it was covered up – too much of a threat to the dominant industry of the time. A threat that was too far in the future and most likely would never come to pass. 

As early as 1896 Svante Arrhenius published a scientific paper regarding carbon dioxide emissions and its effect on temperature and global warming (see here), followed by Edward Olson Hulburt [de] in the 1930s (see here) and Guy Callendar. 

And still many continue to ignore or silence some of the brightest individuals on the planet: our scientists. Recently more than 11,000 scientists co-signed a letter in the journal BioScience, calling for urgent action regarding the climate. World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency is a holiday must read. Easily digested over a coffee, the facts of climate change are presented, with one of the most striking comments:

 

The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions 

 

It goes on to detail “six critical and interrelated steps (in no particular order) that governments, businesses, and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change”: Energy, Short-lived pollutants, Nature, Food, Economy and Population.

Reducing global warming is a war that will need to be fought on many fronts. There is no silver bullet, no vaccine. This genie isn’t so easily put back in the bottle. Just many different solutions that will all need to be implemented simultaneously. Some will work, some won’t, but we have to act, however imperfectly initially – iterate, rework and strike again until we tackle the above issues. 

Our work at World’s Biggest Garage Sale lies mainly within the Economy section, where the scientist’s state “Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere.” The way we produce, consume and manage end of life products needs to change fundamentally at a systemic level leading to increased resource efficiency and a reduction in energy consumption at all steps in the production process.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation “45% of emissions comes from producing the cars, clothes, food, and other products we use every day. These cannot be overlooked. The circular economy can contribute to completing the picture of emissions reduction by transforming the way we make and use products.” Systemic change.

As you participate in the ritual of gift giving at Christmas time, consider the many sustainable options that are available and perhaps give a repurposed or pre-loved gift instead. Our recent circular economy popup ‘If The Shoe Fits’ has demonstrated that the tide is turning with regards to second-hand goods, with consumers looking for sustainable purchasing options. If you do end up with some gifts you don’t want or need over the festive season, then hold onto them for our next garage sale coming up in early 2020 – we’ll help you find another home for them.

 

There is something within all of these six areas the 11,000 scientists recommend that we can all be working on in business and personally. As the festive season closes in and we’re enjoying time with loved ones, living in an era our ancestors would argue was one of immense privilege (what they wouldn’t have given for hot running water, electricity at the flick of a switch and comfortable beds, not to mention the ridiculous number of gifts that abound at Christmas), reflect on the day to day choices you make that could have a positive effect on people & planet.

 

Look at the faces of your loved ones, especially the young ones, and think carefully about the future planet and society we’re leaving them with. If you’re in a position professionally to do something, then please speak up. And more importantly act.

 

To quote the Dalai Lama:

Taking care of our planet, is a matter of looking after our own home. We can no longer exploit the earth’s resources—the trees, water, air and minerals—with no care for the coming generations.

 

Thank you for your support throughout 2019. Wherever you are and whoever you are with this Christmas, honour and cherish your loved ones and appreciate and respect this amazing planet that we all call home – there is no Planet B. All the very best for the coming decade – let’s make it one where we can look back and say “We did all we could and are immensely proud to be human”!!

 

2020 Vision  | 10 years |  People, Planet, Purpose

By: Donaugh Austin

Volunteer for an Inclusive Future

“The diverse and dynamic role of volunteerism in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals merits strong support from Governments and other stakeholders. On this International Day, I thank volunteers for their efforts to leave no one behind.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres

World’s Biggest Garage Sale wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment expressed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. We fully support the pursuit of equality — including inclusion — through volunteerism, highlighting United Nations SDG 10, with the theme for #IVD2019 being “Volunteer for an inclusive future”.

Our recent venture ‘If The Shoe Fits’ in at the Brisbane Wintergarden simply would not have been possible without the generous support of volunteers who believe in our mission and give of their time freely in pursuit of a better world. We want to take time today to honour their contribution and to express our gratitude for their efforts.

Volunteering provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded/marginalised, to play a constructive role in their communities building confidence. We recently held a Queen of Shoes event to include the LGBTQ community of Brisbane and provide an inclusive space for them to shop for shoes. When asked about one of his favourite moments in-store, WBGS super volunteer Wassim, said:

“I had a great moment in the recent venture at If The Shoe Fits, where one of our amazing return customers came up to me and said “Thank you so much! I have never felt confident or safe to shop for shoes. Thank you for having this space.” I was in tears because it doesn’t take much to be kind and inclusive. This goes to show the heart and realness of what is being done here beyond the shoes, the money and the environment. It’s not a coincidence the logo is a Heart, it’s the core of all this business’ values.

We welcome everyone at World’s Biggest Garage Sale. Our company’s practices echo the thoughts of the United Nations who say “Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion”, and we welcome everyone at World’s Biggest Garage Sale events. Our inclusive community provides a role and safe space for everyone.

Why Volunteer?

  • Help the Environment: volunteering with WBGS absolutely helps to better your community and the environment through landfill diversion, creation of the #circulareconomy and raising much needed funds for causes.
  • Improve your Wellbeing: It also helps to better you as an individual. Volunteering is a free way to feel good about yourself and build confidence in skills outside of your normal work. The best part is that you get to share that positivity to fellow volunteers and develop new friendships and a sense of connectedness.
  • Reduce Stress: It’s a great way to reduce stress that may come from work or other relationships.
  • Build Hard & Soft Skills: You can build hard skills and experience in an area you would like to move into. And volunteer tasks will involve working with a diverse mix of people, giving you a chance to improve teamwork & communication skills, so you can gel better with others. You’ll inevitably run into various roadblocks at some point allowing you to hone your problem-solving and creative-thinking skills.
  • Fill-in Employment Gaps: If you’re in between gigs, a great way to stay engaged and proactive is to volunteer at WBGS. There are brilliant opportunities for networking and who knows, a volunteer stint with us could lead you to your next job!!

To all the volunteers out there, thank-you for your hard work, the laughs, the mucking-in, the solidarity and for making WBGS the special organisation that is. If you’d like to volunteer with us at Brisbane’s first circular economy Pop-up, we still have slots available at If The Shoe Fits and several events planned for 2020 — you can volunteer here! Have a fantastic International Volutneer’s Day and here’s to many more great events together in 2020!!

#volunteer4inclusion #IVD2019

Queen of Shoes

Hunni – I don’t walk I strut, strut, strut and then sashay (okay)! And that’s exactly what we did last Thursday night when we took over the Wintergarden Brisbane for Queen of Shoes.

 

Pumping out the tunes for us all night was DJ Dolly Llama!! And didn’t she look fantastic!! With a great mix of old and new she kept us all grooving all night long!

And of course the one and only fabulous Dunghutti drag star, Chocolate Boxx – winner of Miss First Nations 2019 – performed Strawberry Kisses (Nikki Webster) and Buses and Trains (Bachelor Girl) to a delighted crowd. Her performances were hugely entertaining and she really showed us how to werk it in those heels!!

Many of Brisbane’s Drag Nation Queensland competitors filled the aisles enjoying the music and trying on all the glamorous heels that go up to size 49! The Drag Nation competition is currently running at the Whickham Hotel on Friday nights, so be sure to get along and check-out these amazing performers.

 

A massive thanks to all the volunteers who helped on the night and of course the Queens of Brisbane for supporting If The Shoe Fits and showing us how to strut and sashay in those heels!! #IfTheShoeFits #CircularEconomy

 

Car Free Day

Last month was #worldcarfreeday, an event organised by the World Carfree Network, the hub of the global car-free movement. Every year on or around 22 September, cities across the globe celebrate World Car-Free Day, encouraging motorists to give up their cars for a day.

Photo: Getty Images

With vehicle emissions being one of the main sources of outdoor air pollution, particularly in cities, this is an excellent initiative and one we applaud. Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, according to the World Health Organization.

The World Carfree Network says that the World Car-Free Day can be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars… 365 days a year. We couldn’t agree more and to prove it, our family has nearly spent a full year without a car.

When we returned from our family gap year and sold Larry the Landcruiser, we chose not to replace him (it) and opted to try living car-free. Coming up on the one year anniversary of making that decision I thought it would be a good time to report on the experiment.

Firstly I should preface this discussion with the fact that we’re fortunate to live close to most things we need. If you didn’t live in a city and even then, reasonably close to the city centre, the decision to live car-free might be too challenging to consider. After taking this all into account we took the plunge and this is how it panned out.

From a professional standpoint we mostly work from shared office space River City Labs in Fortitude Valley about 6km from home. More recently we’ve been working from our new circular economy pop-up shop in the Wintergarden, but that’s only 8 kms from home. There are two train stations and numerous bus stops within a kilometre of home, so getting to work couldn’t be easier.

We’re less than a kilometre from the school both our daughters attend and we have a mid-sized shopping centre a similar distance away. There’s a fruit market, fish and chippery, pizzeria, bottlo and convenience store even closer, which help to fill in the gaps. The organised sporting activities we do — karate, AFL, tennis and hockey, are all local too.

Whether it’s good management or purely good luck, this all makes living without a car pretty straightforward. In saying that, it’s not always easy, but we’ve made changes to our lives to make it work. Everyone in the family has two feet and a heartbeat and so we’ve been known to walk from time to time. We have bikes for when walking isn’t an option and use buses, trains and ride-sharing services like Uber, Didi and Sheba.

More recently we bought an Inokim electric scooter for each family member. After being regular Lime scooter users upon their introduction, we decided to trial our own e-scooter for a few months. Within weeks we’d decided they were a fun, safe and ecologically friendly transport method and bought another 3; call them our fleet of personal Teslas if you like. E-Scooters are ideal for filling gaps between buses and trains and to get to other forms of transport such as car-sharing services.

 

Car sharing services such as Car Next Door and Go Get are perfect for those moments when nothing other than a car will do. They are slightly different in how they work, but essentially provide the same service — a fleet of cars spread across the city and suburbs that anyone can hire at any time. Whether it’s for an hour or two to run some errands or a full day to visit family or friends outside the public transport grid, both do the job well.

We prefer Car Next Door and use the service a few times a month. This service allows car owners to rent out their car when it’s not in use; it quite literally enables you to borrow your neighbour’s car (if they’re a participant) and because you only pay for what you use, it’s far more cost effective than owning a car. With most cars only being used for about 5% of their lifespan, we see this as a great way for car owners to unlock more of the underutilised value in the asset and to help people who don’t own cars (like us) get easy, low cost, sporadic use of a motor vehicle when required.

We should point out that while the Car Next Door app and it’s alternatives are good for short distances, they aren’t very cost effective for longer journeys. The all-inclusive hourly charge plus per kilometre fee (fuel, insurance, wear & tear) is great if you’re ducking across town and back, but a 200 kilometre round trip will set you back $100 or more, using even the cheapest cars on their books.

For longer trips we use car hire and fortunately there’s an app for that too. Rentalcars.com gets us a small/medium car for a whole weekend for about the same money as a long single trip using a car sharing service. We don’t do it often, but once a quarter or so we’ll arrange to pick up a hire car on a Friday, drop it back on the Monday and only pay around $100 for the privilege. We even get our insurance at about 20% of what the car hirer would charge via another app.

With RACQ citing even the cheapest car ownership costs at $6000 per annum in their 2019 Private Vehicle Expenses Report, we think we’re ahead of the game by a considerable amount. Even if we’re not that far ahead of the game in terms of costs, we know that we are miles ahead in the environmental stakes and given what we do for a living, that feels good.

Our family’s time without a car has certainly been an experience, especially after being reliant on cars since we were in our late teens. Knowing we can survive without a car has been priceless, as I’m not sure car ownership will be the norm going forward. With the huge environmental price the planet pays for car ownership, I think improved public transport networks combined with personal transportation devices such as bikes & e-scooters and car and ride sharing platforms, owning a car will become less and less desirable.

Will not owning a car become the default? While it seems far-fetched today, I no longer think it’s out of the realms of possibility. Take a look at your car inventory and see what you might be able to live without!!