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The Art of Rubbish and more recycling news

Opening Moves in the Art from Trash Exhibition

I went to the Art from Trash Exhibition this week and saw some wonderful creations. There were items made with high levels of originality and craftsmanship with prices to match, whimsical items created from unlikely objects which relied more upon wit and imagination – seeing a use for things which most of us would overlook such as sad teddy bears, abandoned Barbie Dolls and funeral flowers, all kinds of stunning lighting and also excellent projects created by children. I especially liked the scarecrows and tin men made by various schools and Albuera Street Primary’s Parliament of Owls.  Definitely food for thought and very inspiring to see young people thinking hard about the planet and reusing things which might otherwise have been thrown away. Run by the Hobart Resource Centre, their own stand included instruction sheets for making things like the owls and ready -made kits for kids to make pouches from recycled rubber.

"Found Stuff, Paint and Love" by Dave Williams and Theresa Green

Firepot - by Stephen Dilger
Recycled Saucepan Lids  plus fine craftsmanship in "Dragon Skin Coat" by Ella Knight

Whimsical use of odd and ends -  Gay Hawkes "Mother's Friend" made from doll parts, a gin can and a packet

Prevention being even better than cure it was also inspiring to see the next two Episodes of the Chaser’s War on Waste. The second one was largely about the effects and staggering volumes of waste created by Fast Fashion, many of which were discussed during last month’s Fashion Revolution Week, but the third focussed very much on what can and can’t be recycled and what might be done instead. Those ubiquitous take away coffee cups for example, should not go into the recycle bin because they are made of composite materials which can’t be separated. Instead, Craig Reucassel, aka the Chaser, was encouraging people to bring their own cups and for cafes to give them a discount for doing that. Quite a number of Melbourne’s newest and trendiest cafes were taking up the cause so take your cup and try your luck.

One of several delightful Scarecrows by Grade 5 students at Glen Huon Primary School
The owls in Albuera Street  Primary School's Parliament of Owls are a hoot
 I also learned a few things such as not putting broken wine glasses into the recycling because they make uneven glass when mixed with the glass from jars and bottles. And did you know that those little plastic caps (and steel ones too) that we usually remove from bottles and throw in the rubbish, can in fact be recycled if they are collected together – like with like, and then put into the recycle bin.  Plastics bags came in for their fair share of condemnation. Although Tasmania, the NT and South Australia have bans in place, there is some doubt about their effectiveness and the biggest states in terms of population -particularly Victoria and NSW, have still not moved on this. While the WA government is now seriously considering a ban, some councils and communities aren't waiting and are already going it alone.

Boomerang Bags are taking off around Australia with 260 communities now involved.

Here in Hobart, there are at least two citizens’ initiatives which are taking off, see for example, Plasticwise Taroona and the lovely project Roundabout Bags in our corner shop run by two young women. This not only helps to eliminate plastic bags, but reuses some of that textile waste which is currently a major component of landfill.

Local initiative - two lovely young girls - Lily and Freya, made these bags for our corner shop.

Lily and Freya

On the downside, our two major grocery outlets have stopped accepting soft plastics as mentioned in the earlier post on Recycling, though those in other states may still do so. At least one company in Victoria does turn such waste into outdoor furniture, but GPS tracking from a Queensland retailer showed it to be dumped in landfill anyway. The ‘biodegradable' bags  still allowed in Tasmania, are even worse for the environment in that they take even longer to break down and as they do so they turn into those tiny plastic particles which end up in waterways and the soil.
The exciting thing about the War on Waste series is that it seems to have gotten everyone talking, thinking and even doing things about it. This Sunday there is the Overdressed Fashionista Clothes Swap and Sale. Our local council is running free composting workshops. A friend in Perth has just sent me a link to a new wastefree food outlet  and OzHarvest has opened it's first rescued food supermarket in Sydney based on the principle of "Take what you need and give what you can." High end magazines are full of tips and hints to save, repair, recycle and make better use of what we have. The Frankie Press, always big on the artistic and handmade, has two new magazines out. “Junkies’ is definitely an inspiration as far reuse goes, while “Slow” has more on recycling and enjoying the simpler things in life.

Need inspiration? There is a wealth of information out there. These are just two of several new magazines to reflect the growing interest in recycling and making better use of what we have. Don't worry, I'll be sharing these around. I also picked up an excellent magazine for 20c at the sale table at my local library.
Here are just a couple of ideas I have come across in these. As far as used toys go, as well as donating them to charities and women’s shelters, you could also give them to a Toy Library (see below). There are about 300 of these in Australia. By becoming a member or starting one you can save a lot on toys too, especially as children often grow tired of them very quickly. Another interesting idea was the recycling of sporting equipment, especially things like football boots, so every child can play sport regardless of family finances or geographical isolation. In addition to possibly giving books to homeless shelters, you could pass them on to groups such as Schools without Books . Did you know that even bras can be recycled through the Uplift Project? (Similar organisations also exist in the US and the UK). And don't throw out an expensive bra just because the underwire has come out. YouTube has lots of videos on how to fix that.

If all else fails, Gumtree continues to provide free advertising for anything you don’t need. My youngest son has managed to find homes for numerous items which were otherwise destined for the tip. One young man travelled some distance to collect some pear wood which he is now turning into candlesticks. You just never know what someone else can use.

Two other beautiful ideas – the first, the  " Food is Free Laneway" in Ballarat, was mentioned in “Slow,” the second, "The Really Free Market' in Melbourne, was sent to me by my sister. These are as much about sharing and building communities as they are about reducing waste. Who said you can’t have fun while trying to do the right thing?

June 5 is World Environment Day, so it's a good time to be thinking about changes we could make.  As the thoughtful display by Margate Primary School's first and second Graders reads:

 "The clock is ticking....
Our choices reflect our world.
Which door will you chose?

Do you want a world where nature still has a place or one filled with garbage?