Ausnew Home Care | Tip shops can save items that are too good for landfill from going to waste

Tip shops can save items that are too good for landfill from going to waste

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At Anglesea on Victoria's Surf Coast, any goods dropped off at the local dump but deemed too good for landfill make their way to the "tip shop".

Tip shops, sometimes referred to as resale sheds or treasure chest shops, can be found at dozens of locations around the country.

And as Australians continue to grapple with the rising cost of living, some tip shop operators say they're seeing new customers who are turning away from traditional retailers.

For the more adventurous customer, tip shops can offer the chance to grab anything from punching bags, to lawnmowers, to books, to camping equipment and even vintage finds for bargain prices, with the profits often going to community groups.

At Anglesea, the resale centre operates under the watchful eye of workers such as Scotty Price.

A smiling man stands next to shelves of secondhand goods.
Scotty Price has worked at the resale centre since 2019.(ABC News: Larissa Ham)

During the week, people from disability provider Leisure Networks, including Mr Price, hone their communication, cash-handling and negotiation skills through a special program, while also turning their hands to a little repair work.

Then on Saturdays, a revolving door of community groups man the shop, receiving a percentage of the profits.

The quirky retail operation is overseen by Anglesea Community House. 

Operations coordinator Julie Martin says since the resale centre opened in 2013, it had saved about 144 tonnes of goods from landfill each year, and raised a total of more than $300,000 for community groups.

"It's a win-win," she says.

Ms Martin says many of the Leisure Networks volunteers love getting experience on the job, while others mostly enjoy the social connection. 

Nothing has a price tag, which gives the team plenty a chances to practise their bartering skills.

A sign advertising opening hours at Anglesea Resale Centre.
The Anglesea Resale Shed is open four days a week.(ABC News: Larissa Ham)

One volunteer, Zane, enjoys looking after the toy section, while Mr Price loves checking what's been dropped off at the tip and might be worth reselling. 

"Monday mornings when I come, I drive the golf buggy up the top and bring stuff down," he says. 

Expecting the unexpected

Ms Martin says you'll never know what you'll find, or just how many people will arrive for a shopping expedition with a difference. 

The day after a six-week lockdown during the pandemic for instance, the hordes descended, and the shop sold $2,000 worth of goods in one day.

Some of the donations come from people who buy old holiday houses and have a clear-out.

A line of rocking horses at the Anglesea Resale Centre.
Children's toys are popular items at the Anglesea Resale Centre.(ABC News: Larissa Ham)

Meanwhile, shoppers can include anyone from artists, to upcyclers, to bargain hunters.

"I was here one day, and this young girl was moving out of home for the first time and she literally furnished her … house," Ms Martin says.

On the day the ABC visited, Jimmy Weigall of Lorne was grabbing some second-hand camp chairs for a road trip, along with a surf helmet for his toddler daughter, and a double pram. Total price? $20.

"It's the environmental aspect for me," says Mr Weigall. "Why go to Kmart and buy these [chairs] when I'm sure these are just as good?"

A man with long hair and his young daughter, who is sitting in a double pram.
Jimmy Weigall and his daughter Finn, 3, peruse the Anglesea Resale Centre.(ABC News: Larissa Ham)

Mr Weigall, a regular, finds that most things at the shop are way too good to throw out, and tries to give them yet another life when his family is done with them.

"We tend to buy the toys, use them for a while and then take them to the op shop in Lorne," he says.

A little boy pictured with a toy trike.
Bec Morgan picked up this trike for her son a few years ago for $5.(Supplied.)

Bec Morgan, a teacher who lives in Torquay, is also a fan, having secured bargains such as a surfboard for $20, a trike for $5 and furniture she's sanded back and repainted.

"Otherwise, it would just be going into landfill," she says.

Staff notice new customers amid cost-of-living pressures

At Eaglehawk Recycle Shop, in the City of Greater Bendigo, manager Annette Wiles has noticed an uptick in customers visiting for the first time due to cost-of-living pressures. 

"We've got a lot of new people in — a lot of new different people looking for different ideas," she says, noting that household and garden items and building materials are particularly popular.

A wide photo showing the many goods for sale at Eaglehawk Recycle Shop, including chairs, bikes and more.
Tip shops often have a wide variety of goods including garden and sporting equipment.(Supplied: Eaglehawk Recycle Shop)

"The price of things in the retail world is getting ridiculous at the moment."

The Bendigo shop also has a wide variety of unusual goods.

Jerry cans of all varieties and ages at Eaglehawk Recycle Shop.
Jerry can anyone?(Facebook: Eaglehawk Recycle Shop)

Last month they had two old caravans for sale, a fibreglass hull, about 20 pianos (usually priced between $100 and $250), along with everything from car parts to crockery and clothing.

A local solution to a tricky problem

Julie O'Brien, a community sustainability advocate, says tip shops are an important part of diverting perfectly good "waste" from landfill.

"But I think they're probably underutilised in terms of being part of the system of how we value and reuse materials — I think there's a lot more that could be done with them," she says.

A member of Darebin Hard Rubbish Heroes, a volunteer group in Melbourne's inner north, Ms O'Brien has helped stage various sustainability events, including a pop-up shop that "brought the tip shop to the high street" in Thornbury in 2022.

While various council areas differ in the way they divert waste from landfill, Ms O'Brien says her group would love to see more places establish processes to reduce the amount of hard rubbish that ended up being crushed.

She says it would be fantastic if more hard rubbish could first be sorted, with the good stuff transferred to a tip shop.

"It could be part of the solution because then there'd be less actually being physically crushed," she says.

Three staff members sit at a table in the Anglesea Resale Centre.
Anglesea Community House operations co-ordinator Julie Martin checks the books with Scotty Price. (ABC News: Larissa Ham)

She suspects the current cost-of-living crisis has prompted many to rethink how often they upgrade their household goods, rather than discarding them in hard rubbish.

As for tip shops, Ms O'Brien encourages people to find out where their local one is and give it a go to see if it might offer what they're looking for.

"It's kind of part of the bigger system but it can be a really local solution and ultimately, it's saving something from landfill and probably saving people money."


Source: ABC

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