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Canberra
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Canberra Nara Festival
Canberra Nara Festival

Sustainable renovations

Australian and New Zealand bathroom material suppliers Caroma say they have long been advocates for sustainable home luxury.

Now, the inventors of the dual-toilet flush that saves Australia the amount of water under the Sydney Harbour Bridge every year, has partnered with environmental charity Bower Collective for a series of Facebook Live workshops on sustainable renovations.

From its 1998 conception in inner west Sydney, Bower Collective has been on a mission to ‘leave the world a better place’ by rejecting waste as an inevitable consequence of consumption.

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Bower Collective’s Louise Grace said they were focused on supporting individuals on their journey to eliminating waste and ensuring their home was stocked with products good for people and the planet. 

Bower Collective takes in all sorts of waste and donations from households and industry for redistribution, holds electrical repair cafés, upcycling classes and advocates the ‘right to repair’, meaning legislation would force manufacturers to make products repairable and be responsible for the product’s parts at its end-of-life. 

Avoiding unsustainable materials

Louise said Australia has a “terrible throw away culture” and has lost the ability to repair items.

Her advice was to stop waste before it starts.

“The best thing is waste avoidance – don’t buy it; then try and reuse in its current form or upcycled; the last best option is recycling, but that is really down-cycling because it requires a constant waste stream.”

What to reuse

Sustainable material options include timber, metal, fabric, leather furniture, homewares, bric-a-brac, artwork, gardening, building materials, corrugated iron, flooring, hardware, electronics and white goods.

Louise said recycling centres and charities were worth checking out before you renovate because they often receive new building materials from worksite over supply, including boxes of tiles and marble counter tops.

“We always have standard white wall and floor tiles, but sometimes we have splash backs and all sorts of interesting stuff.

“We’ve seen people purchase an entire bathroom of tiles for $200 plus structural timber for shelves and beautiful reclaimed timber for their vanity.”

Workshops for confidence

Once you find your sustainable product, the Bower Collective will help to give you the skills to create your masterpiece.

However, Coronavirus has caused a pivot from physical workshops and repair cafés to weekly Facebook live sessions and online instructional videos on woodworking, bike engineering and electricals.

But Louise said the COVID disruption went both ways and people were decluttering their home and making donations, meaning there were some good finds out there.

Check out bowercollective.com for beginner and intermediate woodworking, including correct hand tools techniques, women’s only courses, DIY tiling and how to change a washer, tiny house construction and kids’ courses.

And stay tuned for their foray into the art world, with their upcoming ‘art from trash’ exhibition.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts