Reduce, REUSE, Recycle

Congratulations to Sustainable Whanganui Trust on their new office and “Reuse Academy” located at the Resource Recovery Centre. The Trust has stepped up their visibility from the previous location in Wicksteed Street, and also expanded their opening hours to welcome any drop-in visitors as members of our community make their way to the new recycling facility.
Reuse! Yah! 
Additionally, Sustainable Whanganui has begun its events programme with a pair of fun school holiday “Blo-Cart” workshops. I was lucky enough to have been invited to join in the fun, along with my solar cooker and a pan full of sausages. There was fierce building, racing, refining designs, more racing, and, finally, a good feed. Smiles and laughter filled the Reuse Academy, along with learning about materials strength, centre of gravity, friction, and the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Once upon a time, a wise person thoughtfully placed the R’s in this order, which represents their importance regarding overall impact on the environment. Think of them as gold, silver and bronze. But as elusive as a gold medal at the Olympics, convincing human beings to reduce their consumption is no easy task. The citizens of many wealthy nations such as New Zealand are called “Consumers”, and billions of dollars are spent annually to keep us buying, even to the point of falling deeply into debt.
When considering the major cultural emphasis on consumerism, addressing the second two R’s is much easier at present. Regarding recycling, this is all I’ll say: If you are not recycling, you are throwing money away.
But for those who already recycle, but are not ready to make the step to reduction, reusemay be a natural step toward an eco-thrifty lifestyle. As Greenie Goldilocks might say, “Recycling is too easy and reducing is too hard, but reusing in just right.”
For me, reusing is the most engaging of mind, body and spirit. In other words, creative reuse requires thinking alongside physical work, and when I have finished a great reuse project I feel good about what I’ve done while maintaining a small ecological footprint.
Additionally, my wife and I are frenquenters of Whanganui’s Church of Reuse, aka Hayward’s Auctions. Father Brian preaches the good word of reuse every Thursday evening to a congregation that consists of the long-time faithful as well as recent converts. Hands are raised in jubilant affirmation of the good word: reuse!
While I won’t divulge all my auction strategies – because all y’all represent potential opponents – I will share two pieces of advice. First, never underestimate the power of a coat of paint. 
Pictured is a solid wood chest we got from Hayward’s for under $20. The night it caught my eye, it was poorly stained a brownish color and was full of spider webs. With a little vision and some paint left over from another project, the chest is now a highly functional element of our front porch. I use it to store empty egg cartons, jam and honey jars to return to the Saturday market, and to sit on and enjoy a beer after a long day of creative reusing.

My other auction advice is be prepared to pay good money for a keystone design element. For example, some long-time readers will recall when Terry Lobb and I swapped columns and she wrote about our kitchen renovation, highlighting the leadlight cabinet doors we got from Hayward’s. Another example is the rooster doorbell pictured. It tells visitors something about us before we’ve even opened the door – at heart we are country folk even though we live in a “Suburb with a holiday lifestyle.”

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