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circular economy Tag

Declutter your Dormant Goods!

Spring has sprung and we all know that means cleaning out all the old rag-dag winter clothes to make way for a fabulous summer wardrobe. Spring cleaning and decluttering that winter wardrobe can be tricky – it’s hard to know what to keep, what to donate or whether you should really throw out your high school senior jersey that you never wear anymore. You know you should probably throw it out, but the thought of it sitting on a rotting pile of landfill makes your eyes a little watery. 

You wonder how you’re going to get rid of this jumper that’s just taking up space in your cupboard? Will the jumper end up in landfill waste? Will a charity shop take this garment? How do you get rid of something you have an emotional attachment to? All these questions can induce you into an anxiety riddled state, but don’t worry, this article has you sorted!

War on Waste

ABC War on Waste - Craig Reucassel and Fast Fashion!

According to the ABC’s war on waste documentary, “Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world.” There is a growing culture of convenience, fast fashion and furniture/appliances that are not built to last more than 2-3 years. Australians have developed a throw-away society: 

  • 6000kg of clothes are thrown out every 10 minutes, equating to 36 000kg every hour. 
  • 30% of clothing items end up in landfills and even if you donate old clothes to a charity, if the items are not in good condition, it’s landfill. 
  • The same goes for furniture and appliances. 85% of household items that are put out for the good old kerbside collection end up as landfill and are not recycled.

 

These statistics are daunting, but there are a few rules you can follow to successfully organise your home into different waste types in order to effectively make the most of your spring cleaning efforts, taking into account your contribution to household landfill. 

Declutter your Home

  1. Declutter in Stages: An article by Sirin Kale (The Guardian) advises not to declutter all at once. instead, break up your decluttering into smaller, more manageable goals. Spend 10 minutes a day decluttering or declutter three times a week focusing on different areas. 
  2. Set Measurable Goals: Nicola Lewis, organising expert and author of Mind Over Clutter, (Good Housekeeping UK) also recommends decluttering should be an activity you can enjoy by setting measurable goals. For example I’ll declutter my wardrobe in the month of spring, spending 1hr each week focused on different sections until I’m satisfied.
  3. Get Organised: The next step is to organise the declutter into separate piles to keep things organised. The list below is a great way to start:
    1. Retain 
    2. Repair
    3. Repurpose
    4. Rehome
    5. Recycle and 
    6. Resource Recovery (the absolute last resort). 

World’s Biggest Garage Sale - Dormant Goods for Good!

 

Elizabeth Larkin from The Spruce also suggests labeling bins with the above and keeping them in a centralised room within your home. 

Review and Hand-on

So, you’ve organised your declutter chaos and spread out the clean up into organised groups, what next? The next step is absolutely vital, so let’s go through the list again:

    1. Retain – take all your cherished treasured items and organise them in your home.
    2. Repair – for any items that need repair there are several resources out there to assist – visit one of almost 1000 Men’s Shed in Australia, consult iFixit online that has over 54,000 repair guides or drop-in to a local Repair Cafe or launch one yourself!!
    3. Repurpose – try turning those old clothes into household rags, washcloths or scrubbing/polishing cloths; old bags into washing baskets and old containers into desk/stationary storage. Repurposing is always a fantastic way to recommission those old goods into something new. Give your goods to Substation33 and they can disassemble the parts and turn them into something new!!
    4. Renew – Ministry of Handmade run workshops to help you try a fresh coat of paint/fabric, giving your old goods new life or turning them into household decor!
    5. Rehome– Donate items that are in good condition or good working order to local charities (St. Vincent de Paul, Lifeline, Salvos, Red Cross and many more) and for those dormant goods that you can’t bear to part with but rarely use/need (think awesome cocktail dress you can’t wear anymore but still love) World’s Biggest Garage Sale is the place for you.
    6. Recycle – Place anything recyclable in your home recycling bin and for all other items consult Planet Ark’s comprehensive Recycling Near You website and familiarise yourself with what can be recycled in your local area.
    7. Resource Recover (the absolute last resort) – after going through the exhaustive list above, there should be very few items that go into rubbish (aka landfill) and for those that do, remember them and think twice before purchasing something like it again, that is hard to dispose of at end of life. Consider calling on 1800-GOT-JUNK to take away any items you’re unsure of – they ensure that your rubbish is recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of responsibly.

 

Spring is such a fabulous time of the year!! Hopefully this article has given you some tips and tricks to help you declutter and breathe new life into your home, while responsibly handling the resources that flow in and out of your life!

Happy decluttering!

Volunteering to Make a World of Difference

This week is National Volunteer Week 2019, and this year’s theme is ‘making a world of difference’. At WBGS volunteers are integral to our events and the social impact that is a direct result of our events.

WBGS Volunteers

From the very beginning, volunteers have been integral to the World’s Biggest Garage Sale. Some amazing connections, experiences and even marriages that have come from volunteering at our events! These volunteers, many who have come to help year after year, really have been ‘making a world of difference’.

Some of our international student volunteers from WBGS 2018

 The World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events are hosted, organised and run by volunteers from the local community. Our goal is to connect the community and activate them in sustainable consumption while raising funds for much needed causes. And the engine that drives the setup of events are the volunteers – real everyday heroes.

In QLD alone, volunteering is worth an estimated $11.6-billion to the economy, with 95% of volunteers reporting their volunteering activities are linked to feelings of positivity, happiness and increased well-being.

Benefits of Volunteering

So if you’re sitting there:

  • watching issues in the world or seeing problems that need to be addressed, or
  • maybe you want to learn something new and build some skills or
  • you’d like to meet some new people while engaged in a worthwhile activity

 

then volunteering for a cause that you care about can tick many of these boxes. Interestingly volunteering was associated with less work–life conflict, burnout and stress, and better positive mental health, according to a study from researchers at the University of Zurich. So if you’re pondering “Why would I give my time to something for free?” the rewards appear to outweigh the time invested.

Volunteering with another group outside of your normal activities, in tasks that you may not regularly perform, can offer perspective and variety, which can be rejuvenating. If it’s tied to a cause that you care about, the benefits will multiply.

Corporate Volunteering

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale time recently took part in Global Payments Inc. #DayOfService at their Brisbane HQ. We spent time cleaning the streets with the Brisbane City Council Litter Prevention group, who provided some wonderful education on changing habits to keep our city cleaner! And the Global Payments team are a great example of a corporation that integrates volunteering into their ethos.

The WBGS Team at Global Payments ‘Day of Service’

If you care about sustainable consumption and want to help raise funds for much needed causes, then volunteering at one of our World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events would be a great fit. We welcome anyone and everyone and can find a role or task that you would enjoy – from department manager, to catering, to driving a forklift!

It can be a great team building exercise for companies aswell. According to Romualdo Ramos, one of the authors of the University of Zurich study “It does seem to be the case that people who volunteer are in their paid work more engaged”. Seems counterintuitive but companies like Global Payments and CISCO have caught onto the value of volunteering.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we celebrate our own wonderful and valuable volunteers over the next week, who have helped make a world of difference!  

Profit for Purpose – Bringing Heart Back to Business

It’s a confronting and vulnerable experience putting yourself out there on national TV wearing a love heart on your chest and professing your desire to build a business based on people, planet and profit for purpose. Now we are preparing for our seed round this is the perfect opportunity to explore our triple bottom line focus.

Someone recently said to me, ‘oh you’re a not-for-profit’ and I said ‘no actually we’re profit for purpose’ and they looked at me confused, seeking clarification.

Profit for Purpose

To put everyone in the picture a “Profit for Purpose” business is ‘led by a mission to achieve social, community and environmental benefit through trading and by channeling a portion of their profits toward their mission.’ (1)

And this is exactly how we operate – mobilising dormant goods and harnessing the circular economy leading to reduced waste while simultaneously creating profit for purpose for our customers who host events. To cement this even further we are in the process of formalising as a B Corps which means we:

  • Aim to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and
  • we will use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment. (2)

But my question to everyone is “when did we start forgetting about purpose and just go full tilt at profit?”. And when I say purpose, that doesn’t include a purpose that revolves around just making profit! In venture capital land the chase is still very much focused on lassoing the next Unicorn. Why is doing good for people and planet, plus doing well financially, considered a crazy far-flung concept?

Borrowing from Ted Rheingold, a common question from investors is:

Q: ‘Why don’t you just earn your wealth first, and then donate it afterward?”

A: ‘Why don’t you want to build a highly profitable business that can provide impact more reliably than your future donations?’ (3)

To the investors out there my question to you is: “Take a long hard look at the why of a company, and I mean the real why (not the ‘to make profit’ why) and check whether they’re trying to make the world a better place, not just disrupt existing systems, gather a whole swagger of followers in a short space of time and make quick gains.”

Businesses Aligned to Purpose

I was really heartened by our RiverPitch experience, particularly when I heard Yohan Ramasundara President of the ACS say “It’s really exciting, startups are exciting and ones (startups) with a purpose are even more exciting (because they’re going) to change the world.”

And what is business really? Businesses are teams of people aligned to a common vision, who provide goods and services, to help others by solving problems. If they’re guided by Milton Friedman’s concept that the ‘only social responsibility of companies is to create profit’ then I think current sentiment would agree they are misguided.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock certainly believes we need to move in a different direction, “As wealth shifts and investing preferences change, environmental, social, and governance issues will be increasingly material to corporate valuations.”

We need to remember that we all spend so much of our waking lives working in business or interacting with business – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Surely we want businesses to be led not just by profit, but to be underpinned by a basic human decency that requires care (aka love) for our environment and the community.

As the Spellbinder from Robin Sharma’s The 5am Club said:

“The great women and men of the world were all givers, not takers.  Renounce the common delusion that those who accumulate the most win. Instead do work that is heroic – that staggers your marketplace by the quality of its originality as well as from the helpfulness is provides.”

We want to live and breathe this at World’s Biggest Garage Sale and build a profitable business, where people come to work expressing the best versions of themselves while helping others and solving the world’s problems. We want to activate the circular economy and reduce waste and give a large portion of the wealth generated from this enterprise back to the community along the way. And on this journey we want to address as many of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we possibly can and demonstrate a new type of business model that can help achieve #agenda2030.

Patient Capital

We’re looking for investors who are aligned to our vision, for people who are patient with their capital (not greedily needing a return asap) to be part of a business that aims to provide impact every step of the way. As Vicki Saunders, SheEO Founder says:

“The pursuit of maximizing profit at the expense of everything else has created a global crisis of inequality, environmental degradation and countless critical challenges to humanity.

Only considering financial returns has led to a winner takes all mindset where 5 people have the same wealth as half the planet. This economic model is entirely broken and needs a radical rethinking.”

Original Image: Brian Trelstad, Kauffman Fellows

 

With that in mind, the capital we have in mind comes for a person who thinks long term and is comfortable with the following:

  • Longer time horizon for return of capital
  • Forgoing maximum financial returns for greater social impact
  • Unwillingness to sacrifice the interests of the end customer/employees/community/environment  for shareholder gains
  • Greater tolerance for risk than traditional investment capital

This diagram demonstrates our position really well.

 

As a profit for purpose company, we strive for more than just a sustainable business model that creates wealth from waste in the community.  Our passion and purpose is a triple bottom line focus, with community and sustainability (including the Sustainable Development Goals….aka the SDGs or #globalgoals) equal measures in the success of our scaling journey. We genuinely agree with Richard Branson

 

‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit’

 

We are excited to be opening our Seed Investment Round. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

 

References

 

  1. https://food-x.com/profit-purpose-business-model-whose-time-come/
  2. https://bcorporation.com.au/about-b-corps
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/40420834/the-non-paradox-of-highly-successful-profit-from-purpose-businesses

Circular Economy Brisbane Innovators in our Midst

Monday night was another fantastic Circular Economy Futures Meetup for Brisbane. We discussed ‘waste to wealth’ and explored innovative and sustainable solutions for building a Circular Economy. There are some excellent businesses in Brisbane doing some really great work, tackling different issues. From prolonging the life of industrial equipment, to creating useful products from waste, Brisbane has seem real innovators in its midst.

 

Brad Parsons, CEO, MOVUS

Harnessing the Circular Power of AI: ‘Turning Dumb Machines Into Smart Machines’

Our first speaker, Brad Parsons, CEO of MOVUS, discussed how they’re helping to bring sustainability to industry. MOVUS’ world-leading Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution FitMachine® transforms dumb equipment into ‘smart equipment’. It enables this through consumer styled simplicity combined with world-class artificial intelligence. MOVUS’ FitMachine proactively monitors the condition and operating performance of industrial equipment.

Brad challenged us to look at the ‘way’ we live. Their work really fits into the inner circle of maintain/prolong within the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram. Their devices improve asset management and lifecycle optimization, with maintenance teams proactively monitoring and maintaining equipment, rather than reacting to failures or following OEM preventive maintenance schedules. The overall outcome being waste reduction, increased efficiency and empowered people. There was some really great discussion around prolonging the life of machines and keeping them in good working order for as long as possible.

 

Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager, Closed Loop

Trash to Treasure: Innovation in Recycling

Our second speaker, Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager of Closed Loop, showed us some of the great work they’ve been doing. Very much focused on creating sustainable solutions within existing business models they are finding useful products from waste. Their work sits on the outer arm of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram looking at recycling. With their Simply Cups coffee cup solution they’re providing an excellent mechanism to ensure the excess of 1 billion disposable coffee cups avoid landfill in Australia. They’re collecting the coffee cups and transforming this trash into treasure with several innovative products emerging, ranging from coat hangers and bricks to pallets and even a keep-cup the rCup®, made from the disposed coffee cups. If that isn’t circular, then I don’t know what is!

They’re also tackling food waste, by providing customers with commercial on-site composting units recycling organic matter, with the capacity to reduce food waste volume by up to 90 per cent in 24 hours. This is some seriously impressive technology, with the machines taking food and organic waste throughout the day, including fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, eggshells, crustacean shells and liquid. Within 24 hours, the original material is transformed into a concentrated compost ready for the garden!! Significantly improving on allowed inputs and time of home composting.

Highlighting MOVUS and Closed Loop on the Circular Economy Butterfly Diagram – Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, SUN, and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment; Drawing from Braungart & McDonough, Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

 

Our First Youth Speaker: Activating the Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, we heard from Sarah and Simeon, co-founders of Illuminating Distractions, a mother and son team working together to educate and engage people on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Illuminating Distractions is a start-up supported by St Paul’s School Centre for Innovation (CIE) and Entrepreneurship. With a passion for the world and a desire to make sure people are educated on sustainable practices, Sarah and Simeon created a fun and interactive card game to teach players about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And we’re big proponents of SD12 Responsible Consumption and Production, where Circular Economy practices will really come to the fore to address this goal. They’ve already sold over 100 units including some to the United Nations! Our future is in good hands with young leaders like Simeon leading the change.

 

Slide by Illuminating Distractions, Sarah & Simeon Gover

 

The event has really grown over the last few months and the energy on Monday night was fantastic – plenty of robust discussion and connection before and after the talks. It’s a really innovative, encouraging and supportive group proactively bringing the Circular Economy to life in Brisbane and Australia, all with solutions that have the potential to go global. If you have ideas or really care about the Circular Economy, come along to our next Event Wednesday, April 24 to learn and share.

 

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!