Community reuse organisations are as diverse as their materials and users. They all offer excellent opportunities to reuse resources and most offer other great benefits as well - perhaps fulfilling a social enterprise role or helping volunteers to learn new upcycling skills. This page contains information on some community reuse initiatives. If you know of an initiative which isn't listed here, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many bicycle reuse groups around the country. It's likely that the groups operating in your area are listed on one (or both) of the following two websites:
The Bicycle Recycling Network website has a list of bicycle reuse/recycling groups around the country. In many cases, volunteers will recondition old bikes and give them away or sell them cheaply. There's a good chance that if you volunteer with a group, you'll learn some handy bike maintenance/repair skills as well.
Give Now lists some bicycle reuse groups and also has a page of contacts for charitable organisations that accept bicycles but don't necessarily repair them.
Book Swap Schemes
Book swaps are a great opportunity to find a great read on the cheap! Many local councils or organisations organise their own book swaps, so keep an eye out. You can also use online book swap forums - see the Online Forums for Giving, Receiving or Trading Goods page.
Bag Share Schemes
Bag share schemes are a fantastic way to reduce the need for plastic shopping bags. In the words of Marrickville Council, the idea of bag share schemes is 'to prevent the use of plastic bags when well-intentioned shoppers forget their reusable bags. Additionally, individuals who have not yet tried reusable bags can experience the convenience and ease of using reusable bags.' So if you forget your reusable shopping bags, pick one up from a participating store and return it later. You can also donate any excess reusable shopping bags that you may have.
So far two councils in Australia have implemented bag share schemes. Visit their websites for information about where to pick up and drop off bags.
The RecyclingNearYou and BusinessRecycling websites allows you to search for organisations (both businesses and community groups) who recycle and/or refurbish computers in your area. On this page, however, we've listed just the community groups (often not-for-profit) who refurbish and reuse computers.
These organisations refurbish computers in good condition and will give or sell them cheaply to people experiencing disadvantage. Many do this as part of a training/employment program. If you are considering donating your unwanted computer to any of these organisations, check to see what requirements they may have (e.g. regarding computer type, age, capacity etc).
- Technical Aid for the Disabled (NSW) - refurbishes donated computers and makes them available to clients
- Church Organisation Initiative (Yagoona, NSW)
- Computers For Young and Old (Jamisontown, NSW)
- Computerbank (Illawarra and Hunter regions)
- Computerbank QLD
- Steps Group Australia (QLD) - call them on 1300 078 377
- Computerbank VIC (West Melbourne)
Search for specific items or materials for donation to charitable organisations nationwide:
Soft Landings (Bellambi, near Nowra) is a social enterprise run by Mission Australia that refurbishes or recycles mattresses. Mattresses in good condition are cleaned and sanitised, and in some cases may be re-covered, before being donated or sold. Mattresses which are not suitable for reuse are recycled for scrap metal and textiles.
A number of other companies also provide mattress recycling options - to search for one in your area, go to BusinessRecycling and enter your location details.
Reuse Centres are generally either community-based not-for-profit organsiations or 'tip shops'. They are great places too look for just about anything, including materials used in arts, crafts, home renovations and education. Some reuse centres also run educational workshops.
To find a reuse centre in your area, go to the homepage of RecyclingNearYou, type your council name into the search box and press 'Search'. You'll be taken to your council's page. At the bottom left-hand corner, under the 'Pass It On' section, you'll see if a link to 'Reuse Centres' if there is a listing in your local government area. If there are no listings in your area, check out the below organisations which may still be at a convenient distance to you.
- Reverse Garbage (Marrickville, Sydney)
- Reverse Garbage (Woolloongabba, Brisbane)
- Reverse Art Truck (Ringwood, Melbourne)
- REmida Creative Reuse Centre (West Perth)
- The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre Co-operative (Marrickville, Sydney) collects and repairs donated household goods then resells them. It also offers a Reuse Referral Service - if the Bower is unable to take your goods, they will search their database of other enterprises in Sydney that deal in secondhand goods.
Having a system to reuse stationery within your workplace or organisation is often very easy to achieve, yet very effective in reducing unnecessary consumption. It can be as simple as designating a particular cupboard as the stationery cupboard, and asking staff to move any excess stationery away from their desks and into the stationery cupboard for other people to find and use. Keeping your stationery cupboard neat also helps because you won't lose track of any items.
The University of New South Wales (Kensington, Sydney) has established a Stationery Reuse Centre that accepts donations of unwanted stationery and provides it free to students and staff. Check their website or contact them to find out what types of stationery they accept.
Swap parties can be a great way to get new stuff without it costing the earth! A swap party is an event where participants bring good quality items they no longer want and exchange them for other items that other people have brought. Swap parties can be public or private. They can be open to many categories of items or limited to just one (books or clothes, for example).
Swap parties are often hosted by local councils or community groups. Many private groups also choose to host their own swap parties, including workplaces, schools or 'mums and bubs' groups.
To find a swap party near you, keep an eye out in your local newspaper, council newsletter or community notice board, especially in October for National Swap Day or November for National Recycling Week. Public swap parties can be listed on our National Recycling Week Events page.
If you would like to host your own swap party, check out Planet Ark's Swap Party pages for everything you need to know to organise your event, including a comprehensive 'How-To' Guide, event signage and more.
Below is a list of community recycling initiatives you could start in your area:
Start your own reuse centre with the guidance of Community Recycling Ventures. Reduce waste to landfill and provide sustainable employment and training to local residents.
Join the many towns across Australia becoming Plastic Bag Free. Boost your town's environmental profile and green initiatives by taking part.
Set up an Aluminium Can recycling facility to raise money for your local school, charity or community program.
Start a Community Garden to turn food and garden waste into valuable compost. Provide a space for learning how to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Make your next community event or festival a 'zero waste' project. Worm farms, biodegradable packaging, composting toilets and green power sources can make your event more environmentally sustainable. Zero Waste Events in SA | Waste Wise Events in NSW