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Circular Economy

Plogging - pick up waste while Jogging!

We hope your week has been as productive and joyful as ours has been here at WBGS. With plenty of new and exciting ideas in the pipeline, there are a few fun things we wanted to share with you, both in our local community and nationwide.

You may have seen local community members carrying bags full of plastic and wondered what their intended use could be. Implemented in November last year, the Queensland Containers for Change Scheme refunds 10c for every eligible bottle or can collected, and this small incentive successfully saw 100 million bottles and cans collected within the first two months of its implementation! What you see in our communities is the beginning of more plastic being taken off the streets and out of landfill. We are so excited about this great initiative to take back needless waste and cycle money back into the community — this amazing effort will help us all reduce the number of plastic containers going to landfill each year. We now need to raise efforts toensure these containers become the food for future production.

 

We love active things with great messages and feel that establishing human connections while working hard towards environmental sustainability is really important. Last Friday we went #plogging along the Brisbane river and through the Botanic Gardens, finding many items along the water’s edge — plastic bags, bottles, polystyrene and even a red shoe (totally on brand, but ready for the bin unfortunately!). You’ll often find a lot of waste in or near water and I think it’s important to remember that anything we produce as a society needs to have an appropriate place at it’s end of life.

 

And that’s the perfect lead-in to Australia’s largest and most successful community-based environmental event which is coming up next week. Australians all over the country will be gathering in their local communities to #cleanupaustralia, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Schools, businesses, youth groups, community groups and councils alike will spend their sunny Sunday picking up rubbish that’s accumulated in public areas across the nation. Did you know in 2018, the estimated rubbish removed came to 16,942.2 ute loads?! Though our primary goal is always to prevent rubbish entering our environment, it’s also just as important to take a look around and remove the rubbish that is already there.

 

If you’d like to create or join a Clean Up, please head over to the Clean Up Australia Day website to find out how. Depending on who you choose to clean up your community with, there are a couple of main dates where you’ll be able to chip in with workmates, friends and family!

Business Clean Up Day — Tuesday 26 February 2019

Youth and Schools Clean Up Day — Friday 1 March 2019

Clean Up Australia Day — Sunday 3 March 2019

How To Make Valentine’s Day Romantic While Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

I can’t believe it’s already February! Just like that, the holiday period is over and we are well on our way into what I’m sure will be a very busy year for us all, especially here at WBGS! However, before we completely lose ourselves in business as usual, let’s make one last excuse to take a relaxing break and spend a day with the people that mean the most.

Whether you’re celebrating with a loved one, friends or family, Valentine’s Day is closing in fast (February 14th for those who don’t already have it down), and it’s always good to have something special planned for the occasion, big or small.

As humans, we often find ourselves getting carried away with the glamorousness of it all — a romantic and expensive evening out, an elaborate bouquet of flowers and a big bunch of pink and red balloons, chocolate… More chocolate…

BUT as much as lavish celebrations are fun and exciting, it’s also important to take a step back and remember why we’re celebrating. How we can make these moments even more special, by making meaningful choices that take back control from the cost, consumerism and carbon footprint Valentine’s Day tends to draw. For whoever you’re giving out candy hearts to this year, we have some top tips to make sure it’s suitable and sustainable!

Bake it don’t buy it

If you love the idea of celebrating love and are wanting to go all out, we suggest a fun-filled picnic followed by some gift exchanges and a cheeky wine to end the night on a high. Consider packing a homemade picnic with delicious sandwiches and organic fruits to go along with your drink of choice, instead of pre-packaged and mass-produced items from the supermarket. You will save a whole lot of dollars and a whole lot of plastic waste!

Photo by John Dancy on Unsplash

For dessert, perhaps opt for some fair trade organic chocolate (we really like the brand Loving Earth!) or bake your own desserts from scratch! Nothing beats the satisfaction of biting into a perfectly soft and chewy cookie made from home. Save some for your date, though!

DIY gifts

If you’re crafty, you may consider going an extra step and making your own gift. A hand-knitted scarf or a home-pottered mug will go such a long way and your significant other or family members will truly appreciate the time, effort and thought you put into the project. Otherwise, buy pre-loved gifts, something handmade, support your local merchants and choose fair trade. Swap a bouquet out for a house plant that your gift recipient can keep for a lot longer than flowers! Get creative with it and opt for something that will be as long-lasting as the love you hold for your loved one (corny, I know).

Lastly, no matter who you’re giving to this V Day, make your cards from scratch! Find some old cardboard or materials around your house (maybe some glitter if you’re feeling extra festive) and recycle them into some amazing, homemade, love-filled greeting cards that will be cherished for so long! (Can you tell that I’m feeling the love?)

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

We hope that wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, that you take a moment to celebrate the incredible privilege that it is to be surrounded by those you love! (We love you, too.) Happy Valentine’s Day!

Try for a Sustainable Silly Season — the WBGS way

Every year the Collins Dictionary issues a word of the year #collinsWOTY and both sadly and amazingly this year’s word is “Single-use’. I say sadly, as we’ve gotten ourselves into a bit of a pickle with single-use items that are used once, thrown away, often plastic and something we’ve become very dependent on. But I also say amazingly, because it’s actually fantastic that there is so much discussion and awareness globally around the problem — that’s what leads to solutions and behaviour change.

As we head into the silly season, it’s prime time for single-use items what with all the parties happening — straws, plastic plates, packaging etc. My children have opted not to take straws these days — their motto is “saving the world — one straw at a time’. And that’s how we all have to think, while we wait for the inventors, designers, creatives and change-makers to come up with better solutions to these problems and we see widespread systemic change. I was out for lunch the other day, ordered a milkshake and received it with a metal straw — it was different, but it was great! Some of those inventors, designers and creatives are already flying! More of this I say.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

The festive season is also the time when a crazy number of completely unwanted presents make the rounds of the office Secret Santas and various family Christmas gatherings. It happens, because it can be really hard to find a perfect gift for some people and sometimes even with the best of intentions, people just make bad calls. According to a study done by Gumtree “many of the gifts given at Secret Santa/Kris Kringle end up in the bin, with five per cent throwing away their gift within a week of receipt, others will be binned if they are not good enough to re-gift (12 per cent) and some say they hang onto the gifts for a bit but then put them in the bin (13 per cent).” But please don’t just throw that gift away adding to landfill, hold onto it and in the New Year WBGS are hoping to trial a way for you to ‘donate your unwanted gifts’ — January will be prime-time.

So thinking along these lines how we can we all try for a more sustainable festive season? Here are some ideas from the WBGS team:

Christmas Decorations for Sales at WBGS18
  • Wrapping paper — re-use gift bags, make your own cards from left-over cardboard and try using newspaper and artwork that the kids have done for wrapping;
  • Bon-bons — try making your own (I know I hear you saying — who’s got the time), but some of the WBGS team will be making bon bons from toilet rolls people (yes you heard right) and they won’t be filling them with single-use plastic toys (but there will be some really, super bad jokes in them!). Check out these eco-friendly bon-bons.
  • Plates/Cutlery — avoid plastic plates, straws (if you must have straws you can get paper at the big supermarkets now), cups and cutlery and ask family and friends to bring extra if the gathering is getting big. Most people are happy to muck in and wash up on Christmas Day (I’ve had some of my best chats with family and friends over the kitchen sink!)
  • Pre-loved/recycled gifts — embrace the circular economy this year and buy something pre-loved, recycled or upcycled — some of you may already have bargains from WBGS18 and also check-out Plant Ark’s Recycled Products Directory
  • Make a Donation — this year the adults of our family aren’t giving each other gifts and instead we’re donating to that family member’s charity of choice — most of us really do have enough and Christmas is a time for sharing.
  • Recycle — people go through a huge number of plastic/glass/metal drink containers over Christmas with Christmas drinks and eggnog — now that we have Containers for Change in QLD you can easily do the right thing! And don’t forget your normal council recycling bins!
  • Food, Waste not Want not — I am still personally a work-in-progress getting ensuring I don’t waste food, but really it’s all about planning. And remember people it’s not the end of the world if you run out of something — just think of that other waist! haha
Ourgoodbrands Christmas Shopping List.

Here’s hoping yours is a joyous, peaceful and sustainable Christmas, wherever you are. Thank you to all our partners, volunteers and the wider Bris Vegas community for making 2018 such a wonderful year. WBGS are looking forward to a cracking 2019!

WBGS mission to create socially and environmentally positive community solutions for waste

As I get ready for the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) pitch at RCL Startup Invest today, I’m reminded of the importance and urgency of addressing our growing waste problem. I’m reminded of this for 2 very important reasons.

Yas calling in for an RCL Investor Update from the warehouse.

The first is because this Friday 7 Dec is the Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM). What’s that I hear you asking — well it’s when the federal and state environment ministers meet to ‘discuss strategic issues and agree cross-government actions to improve Australia’s environment’.

In light of this meeting, the Waste Management Association of Australia has written to the Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price with 5 key policy suggestions, the first of which is “A national proximity principle, with the goal to manage our waste as close as possible to where it is generated”. This lines up perfectly with the goals of the WBGS, with our community events promoting the circulation of goods within the local economy to keep them at their highest value for as long as possible.

The Queensland Government is making great strides to address our waste issues via their Resource Recovery Industry Development program — let’s hope the federal government and other states can push this forward further and find overall alignment for Australia.

The second (and this is not news to anyone, but stay with me) was Sir David Attenborough at the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Katowice, Poland this week who said quite emphatically that “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change.”

Well that’s climate change you say — I thought we were talking about waste? And I would argue that the 2 are not mutually exclusive. As Arno Berns has highlighted in his CEPS Policy Brief Time to connect the dots: What is the link between climate change policy and the circular economy?, “the production of raw materials, accounts for roughly 19% of global GHG emissions and the waste sector for another 3%”. He goes on to discuss that while low-carbon and renewable energy sources are important for reducing global warming, “improved resource efficiency, greater recycling and re-use, as well as an absolute reduction of raw material use must become key elements of climate policy in the context of a circular economy”.

Photo by Bruno Ramos Lara on Unsplash

This is not the time for us to be Ostriches and bury our heads in the sand. We can no longer sit back and continue to watch the waste keep coming and the problem continue to grow. The WBGS is on a mission to create and realise socially and environmentally positive community solutions for our ever-increasing waste streams. We’ve just launched our online store as another platform for circulating used/unwanted goods. We want to continue exploring our relationship with materials and products, debunk thinking around used goods, provide solutions to bring the circular economy to life and help society become a lot wiser with the resources the earth provides. Remember — No Planet B.

WBGS: Circular Economy alive and well, after the doors close

Well it was like a footy Grand Final, an Ekka and a major festival all rolled into one! Another successful World’s Biggest Garage Sale has come and gone and the WBGS team have been blown away by the amazing volunteers, partners and shoppers who contributed to make WBGS 2018 such a huge success. It really does showcase the best of community.

Cooopers Plains warehouse for WBGS Nov 17 2018, where over 10,000 shoppers came through.

We had over 10,000 shoppers come through our doors on Sat 17 Nov and we saw many of those generously donated dormant goods go back out the door to a new home. We also trialed selling some new stock this year, such as brand new shoes and toys (from excess inventory and unwanted stock) being sold in support of charity partner Good360. It literally was the circular economy in action and a demonstration of what’s possible when the community comes together, united behind social good and sustainability.

As I get ready for Pitch@Palacetoday, I’m drawn to a comment that HRH Prince Charles recently made when discussing the need to accelerate from a linear economy to a circular economy. He said, “One of the challenges is how best to put sellers in touch with buyers.” This fits in exactly with what WBGS does on the big day and also afterwards when the doors close and the big event is over.

While WBGS 2018 might be over for shoppers, it’s not over for the WBGS team and partners working hard to bring the circular economy to life. Not everything walks out the door on the big day, but we’re determined to see the items that remain find a good second home or be handled in the most appropriate and circular way.

So what happens to everything post WBGS? Here’s a sample of where all the remaining product goes:

  • E-Waste: Substation33 take all our e-waste. They are “an electronic waste recycling centre, providing a workplace where volunteers and employees gain confidence and skills for the transition to sustainable employment. Its purpose is to provide training and employment opportunities through the recycling of electronic waste.”
  • Antiques: Albion Antiques take all the remaining antiques and collectibles and display them and the items go to auction, with the funds coming back to WBGS post auction.
  • Furniture, Clothes, Toys, Household items etc.: These items went to St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies), Red Cross and Lifeline in support of their various causes.
  • Books: Several of the books went to The Unknown Project “a Brisbane-based social enterprise working to connect young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds with resources and opportunities” and the Tweed Valley Adventist College.

And finally, anything that was leftover went to 1800-GOT-JUNK who dispose of what remains in an environmentally friendly, socially conscious manner, recycling whatever they can.

So, it really can be done people! We can unearth and move those dormant goods around, keeping them alive for much longer. We can also ensure that when products have truly reached ‘end of life’, they are handled in the most environmentally responsible way. That way we’re continuously working towards reducing what goes to landfill.

Last but not least, we had a blast at WBGS 2018 and we want to shout out a huge thanks to our community of volunteers, partners and shoppers. You are the people who inspire us and keep us motivated to deliver greater impact for the wider Brisbane community every day. Looking forward to an even bigger and better WBGS 2019!