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Sustainability

Keep on Keep-Cuppin’ On! Solutions for the Environmental Caffeine Enthusiast

We hope your New Year was safe and joyous, spent with the ones you love the most! Now that it’s 2019 we suspect that means you have the inevitable list of New Year’s resolutions burning a hole in your back pocket. Getting big goals is something I definitely subscribe to and then it’s all about committing and regularly checking-in to that commitment over the year.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

One way to make it easier to stick to the big hairy audacious resolutions is to break them down into smaller bite size chunks, making small positive improvements to our daily behaviour and setting attainable goals that we can work towards. One way to make a more positive and sustainable choice in 2019 is to reconsider the way you receive your takeaway coffee each mor

According to Sustainability Victoria, Australians consume more than 50,000 cups of coffee every half hour, and an estimated 1 billion takeaway hot drink cups each year. ONE BILLION! Unfortunately, most of these are rarely recycled and ultimately end up in landfill. Australian coffee culture is harming the environment, every morning on your way to work!

So how can we, as everyday caffeine addicts, make small, sustainable adjustments in our day-to-day routine while keeping the environment in mind? To start, you can make a small investment in a good quality keep cup and remember to leave the house each day with it in your work bag. This small and convenient step means that you can easily do your part to reduce the number of takeaway cups going to landfill. At most cafes, you will also get a discount on your coffee for bringing your own cup! That’s what I call a win-win!

A small issue I have personally faced when BYO-ing my coffee cup to work is avoiding leaks and spillages during transit. As someone who hops on public transport regularly, I have sometimes found myself in the awkward situation of holding a leaking keep cup that is dripping on my hand, with me frantically trying to clean it up! I understand this can be disheartening and could lead you to revert back to having your daily cappuccino in a paper cup. Never Fear!

A Frank Green coffee cups goes anywhere with you! (Source: Frank Green)

Enter Frank Green – the market’s latest technology in reusable coffee cups. These keep cups are known for their great minimalist design, coupled with their impressive functionality. Some funky design benefits are:

+ A spill resistant lid – even when it’s upside down!

+ Drinking hole designed for optimum liquid flow

+ Stain and odour resistant inner

+ Comfortably fits in standard cup holders

+ Dishwasher safe

+ Recyclable at end of life – this is a big one!

WBGS enjoy coffee from a Frank Green keep cup.

Frank Green reusable coffee cups are made with premium, long-lasting materials and come in a vast range of sizes and colours. Better yet, their Next Generation range lets you Paywave your purchase from the cup! All this in a sleek and effortless design – you’ll never use a disposable cup again! As a bonus, the brand also manufactures reusable water bottles, another stylish step towards a solution to the thirty-eight billion water bottles that are discarded into landfills around the world every year.

We may not be able to commit to all our New Year’s resolutions overnight, and hey, that’s okay! What we can do is make a conscious effort to lessen our personal impact on the environment by changing small behaviours, one day at a time. If you are a ‘forgetful work in progress’ like me, please be aware that you can recycle the lids on takeaway cups as long as they have a plastics identification code stamp – just make sure you separate it from the cup first!

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!

This Christmas Join the Growing Movement of Conscious Consumers Who Aren’t Above Pre-loved

With Christmas just around the corner, Brisbane shoppers who want to celebrate the circular economy this year are encouraged to visit the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) on Sat 17 November, with a preview night on Fri 16 November. According to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan, Australians will spend more than $51 billion across retail stores over the Christmas trading period, a 2.9 per cent increase over the previous year. It would be great to see some of that staggering amount of money going towards creating and sustaining a circular economy in Australia.

 

Christmas Decorations available for Sale at WBGS18

The last couple of years have shone a spotlight on waste, with the ABC’s War on Waste series, and China’s waste ban this year highlighting our consumer culture and a waste problem that has been growing for some time. Our attitudes and perceptions regarding products really need to change — we need to look beyond the surface of an item for its buried value. The latest, greatest and shiniest isn’t always the best (particularly for the environment) and while something might not be ‘brand new’, it can still be new for you or your loved ones.

A lot of people still feel a real stigma around giving gifts that are pre-loved, thinking that others will consider them stingy, but there are a couple of ways to transition.

  • Start with someone you know cares about the environment and openly declare that it is a pre-loved gift and proudly announce where you bought it from, showing the receiver that not only are they receiving a wonderful gift, but that the money spent acquiring it is going towards growing a better community and world to live in.
  • Carefully match the item to the person and ensure it is something they will absolutely love, so they know you’ve put a lot of care into its purchase.
  • Children are great recipients of pre-loved gifts, often not giving a care about where it came from (I know my kids often had more fun with the big box the present came in, rather than the actual gift!). Again, if it’s not for your kids, declare the origins of the gift.
Stationery and Toys on offer at WBGS18 this weekend.

There are many great items on offer at WBGS that would make excellent gifts e.g. christmas decorations, antiques, arts and crafts, stationery, home décor and artwork, quality manchester, electrical goods, gardening items, toys for the kids and appliances still in their boxes.

According to Channel 7 news, most Brisbane locals are more likely to spend money in-store than online and about half of Brisbane like to get their Christmas shopping done by the end of November. So be sure to include WBGS on your November Christmas Shopping trail, grab a bargain and join the growing movement of conscious consumers who aren’t above pre-loved and enjoy knowing their purchase is helping the environment and growing a better world powered by People, Planet and Profit for Purpose!

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!