Art Series: Reverse garbage barrels serve a social justice purpose


Recycling can be a great way to raise money and to look after the environment at the same time.  Reverse Garbage was launched in Brisbane to become a unique recycling concept developed as a way of using old rubbish creatively.  Weekly, reusable garbage is sorted into piles and sold to artists, art teachers and craft people who turn the junk into art work, jewelry, sculpture and other projects.  The project operates a large retail warehouse at Montague Road, West End.

In 2006 John Hepburn, the initiator and co-founder of Reverse Garbage Co-op Ltd, wrote a personal reflection on the initial development of the co-op. The article was published widely in international cooperative journals and can be read on his blog here.

Bringing Two Recycling Projects Together

One of the goals of Reverse Garbage is to educate about recycling.  Reverse Garbage runs practical and creative workshops in schools for any year level.  They work with staff to design appropriate activities and themes that fit school programs.  They run professional development workshops for teachers.

When students at Our Lady’s College read about the “Barrel Auction” advertised to be held on the 4th December 2010, they were inspired about how to manage their “Stamps for Peru” project.

Recycling For Charitable Purposes

At Our Lady’s College in Annerley nearby students were brainstorming ways to raise money for their favourite charity in Peru.   They thought of recycling stamps, as this is a neat simple way to raise money as well as help the environment.  Every little bit of recycling helps and with this project everyone can contribute.    The stamps are sold to collectors worldwide.

Bringing Two Recycling Projects Together

The idea came up to create a mail box from an old barrel that Reverse Garbage is recycling.  This is almost like a double barrel recycling project.  And so the process began.  The barrel was undercoated and painted red.  The national colors of the Peruvian flag are red and white, a pleasant and striking contrast.   There was some pun intended in the way the box was created to resemble an Australian Post Box, which are also red and white.

The project was launched during the week of the Canonization of Mary MacKillop.  The box was posted outside the library of the school.  The barrels are sturdy and big enough to stand alone.  It was simple enough to cut a mail slit in the box with a jigsaw and line the opening with decoupage.

Sisters of St Joseph and Peru

Evidence has shown that supporting women and ensuring they have access to educational opportunities, health clinics and programs and paid meaningful work leads to healthier, stronger and more successful families and communities.

Mary MacKillop International Mission Inc (MMIM Inc) in Peru is committed to working with men and women but especially women so that they are able to help build strong families and communities.

This project will help to raise money for the education of children and for general health and other charitable purposes at their centre in Peru.

Reverse Garbage Barrel Auction

The students are now designing an entry for the barrel auction to be held in December.2010.  They are putting on a special end-of-year event to raise funds to buy  their own building. Purchasing a property of their own will mean they can do bigger and better things to promote re-use and waste education and ensure the longevity of Reverse Garbage.