Town runs Recycle Store, You Can Too

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Wanaka ReStart Store

Wanaka ReStart Store

A group of women in Wanaka, New Zealand saw a need for a better way to recycle perfectly good items that were going to the landfill.  That’s when they decided to do something about it and started the “ReStore” a number of years ago.  The store is a success story in that it serves a vital function in reducing the landfill flow, allows a source for people to purchase used items, and allows the community to re-think their priorities on what happens in the use-cycle of their stuff.  The ReStore is actually called Wanaka Wastebusters (www.wanakawastebusters.co.nz) and their store is a feast for the eyes.
(Image: Dan Robertson, an employee of Wanaka Recycling, exits the ReStore to tend the recycle bins)

Wanaka Wastebusters Glass

Wanaka Waste-busters Glass

There’s a cult following in Salt Lake City Utah of Deseret Industries stores, operated by the Mormons.  Most of the author’s wardrobe comes from high quality used clothes from Deseret Industries.  Talking to others who frequent the Deseret Industries stores is like sharing a rock-climbing or alpine adventure story.  And all of my favorite clothes are those from “D.I.” as it’s affectionately called amongst  Utah locals.
(Image: The glass recycle bin and containers for household items and building materials at Wanaka Wastebusters)

In Wanaka, the ReStore looks like any other thrift store but it’s part of an in the center of the town recycle center. They’ve got recycling down to a fine art. A huge percentage of New Zealanders recycle and it can be seen in the activities at Wanaka Wastebusters.

Wanaka's Angus Ho at "ReStore"

Wanaka's Angus Ho at "ReStore"

Project Team Member, Angus Ho is soft spoken but talks intensely about his project, Get Real.org.nz which aims at educating people and government in reducing and  eventually eliminating plastic bag use at stores throughout the country. Ho has set up an info board and laptop where citizens can sign a petition for legislation on the subject.    The following are a few Q&A from the Wastebusters newsletter, (Yes, they have a newsletter):
Angus, what do you do in your job?
Angus Ho: I promote and design projects and campaigns. I set up the green Christmas Presents Campaign and the Recycled Envelope Campaign. I’m also doing waste check-ups for households and businesses.
How long have you been in Wanaka?
Three months.
How did you end up at Wanaka Wastebusters?
I was on a working vacation in NZ visiting different green groups, and we did a survey of plastic bag usage in different supermarkets. I was interviewed on television which led to my meeting with the Wastebuster’s manager.
What’s the best thing about working at Wanaka Wastebusters?
The whole team of people working together on a common goal and finding lots of good stuff in the shop.
Who’s your hero?
Al Gore
A notable and unique activity which doesn’t even take place at Wastebusters, rather in the town itself, is seeing Duncan Fulford riding a mountain bike around town towing a string of recycle bins. It’s quite a site that the author didn’t quite get around to capturing on his camera before heading out of town.  It’s not one bin but four that stretch out behind Fulford and his trusty bike.  It takes Fulford some time for him to get the whole arrangement moving, pedaling hard to pull the weight on Wanaka’s streets, but it costs nothing in fossil fuels, which is the point after all.
Says Wanaka Wastebusters Manager Sue Coutts, “Last month we launched our 50% Recycle Campaign, with the goal of recycling or composting half of the town’s waste. “ She adds, “And there’s great news from a recently released report that the local communities have already reached 43%, leaving only another 7% to go until we break the magic 50% barrier.”
If Wanaka can do it, so can other communities. However the author suggests not waiting for local town officials to enact such bold and effective efforts. Start by assembling a group, like the Wanaka women did, and create your own “ReStore” , in whatever country or community you live. I’m  sure Sue and her staff would provide you with information and support if you contact Wanakawastbusters.org.nz

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