Why upcycling is the creative art we all need.

By Krysten Banks, Manager Resource Recovery Midcoast

I loved my job.

Running The Green at the Tuncurry Waste Management Centre was a real pleasure. Over the many years that the garden has evolved, I have loved every minute of it. Imagine coming to your place of work everyday and having your nostrils filled with the smell of eucalyptus and basil. Imagine enjoying your morning tea and having your eye caught by an echidna strolling through the eating area while listening to black cockatoos. Imagine spending time with great people outdoors, propagating the next batch of seedlings for sale, building and caring for the site, ‘uploving’ salvaged items.

Yes, l loved my job at The Green…

I love my new job as Manager of Resource Recovery Midcoast though too!

For a couple of months now I have been the manager of Resource Recovery Midcoast, the social enterprise that manages the Tuncurry Waste Management Centre on a competitive tender. The vision behind Resource Recovery has been to provide opportunities for growth and skills development, as well as jobs, to people experiencing disadvantage in the Great Lakes region. Some people need a helping hand back into the work force, and that is the mission that Resource Recovery has tasked itself with.

Many years have passed at ‘the Tip’ since Resource Recovery first started working in partnership with what was then Great Lakes Council (today Midcoast Council) and some great managers of the site have come and gone. Today, I find myself in this role at a very exciting time in waste management history — when reuse and repair is going from a fringe or ‘hippy’ activity to a very mainstream and practical way to create great things from ‘old stuff’.

Upcycling is another word for it, and myself and others have been big proponents of it for a very long time. Finding the treasure in the trash is so much fun, and using your creativity to find a new use for old resources at a landfill id a truly unique creative challenge.

Last year we managed to secure some funding from the Ian Potter Foundation to run a series of workshops on upcycling aimed particularly at women in the Great Lakes. We called it the UpLovers and it was a tremendous success (with a lot of help from Resource Recovery, The Men’s Shed and other local supporters).

This year, the great people at Midwaste Regional Waste Forum and Midcoast Council are keeping the upcycling dream alive by organising a series of workshops at The Green starting with Eco Printing this coming Saturday, then ‘Repair a Chair’ on the 13th of May (who wouldn’t like to learn that?!), and ‘Knitting with T-shirts’ on the 27th of May.

The history of upcycling workshops is thus far brief but brilliant. We have brought people together from across the community to turn trash into treasure, developing their creative capacity as well as doing a great service to the environment.

If you don’t already have plans, I really hope you can join myself and others at The Green this weekend to begin upcycling again and unleashing those creative vibes. It will be easy enough to find us — we’ll be the ones covered in natural dyes with grins from ear to ear.