Beerwah Recycling Market manager Trish Cashin takes a break in the Recycled Garden.
Beerwah Recycling Market manager Trish Cashin takes a break in the Recycled Garden. Kari Bourne

Good ol' stuff scrubs up well

A WHOLE new world of recycling has come to life on the Sunshine Coast.

It's a world where kangaroos are made from old clothes-line hoists and birds fly with wings made from shovels.

It's where axe heads and ball bearings come together as a dinosaur and rust is readily accepted.

These treasures and many more can be found every Saturday at Sunshine Coast Council's Beerwah, Caloundra and Witta recycling markets.

The markets sell second-hand goods from council's resource recovery centres.

Beerwah Recycling Market manager Trish Cashin said the pieces inspired both young and old to think twice about recycling.

"It is about educating people about what you can do before you throw something out," Ms Cashin said.

"There is so much character to be found in someone's junk.

"All it needs is a little bit of love."

More than 300 people visit the Beerwah Recycling Market every week, and it is easy to see why.

The rows of books, bric-a-brac and furniture tell stories of history and travel through their wear and tear.

The rusted bicycles and play equipment take visitors back in time and the retro-coloured vases give everything a touch of modern style.

But it is what can be created from the so-called junk that really gets people excited.

Staff spend hours in the market's two fabrication workshops sewing, nailing and re-shaping pre-loved items back to near-new.

Everything from the nails, paint and even tools are recycled at the workshop.

"It really is the best part of something old - bringing it back to new again," Ms Cashin said.

"Even items up to 100 years old can be restored and they just look brilliant."

An 18th century grandfather clock was recently donated to the market.

Staff spent hours fixing the old clock to ensure the traditional "ding-dong" chimed once again.

"We take pride in everything we sell and I think that is why we are so popular," Ms Cashin said.

"I think we have put a new meaning to the saying, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'."

Outside the recycling market is the recycling garden.

The garden was built five years ago from treasures both old and used.

Ms Cashin said the garden was a place for visitors to dig up ideas of how recycled goods could be turned into something new.

"People come and have a look through the recycled garden and get ideas of how recycled goods can be turned into treasures," she said.

"It shows that rubbish does not have to have a visual appeal to be turned into something spectacular and unique.

"It feels like there are many people in this garden, all of whom have contributed a little piece of their lives."

The market also employs volunteer youth workers to learn trade skills in wood and steel fabrication.

One youth recently completed a sculpture of an ant, which was created from used gas bottles and a water pump.

Ms Cashin said the market had inspired the youths and many others to re-think their trash and turn it into something treasured.

"Almost anything can be turned into something. You just have to think outside the square," she said.

"People bring in old steel bed frames, shovels, rakes and timber not knowing what can be created."

Even the weird and wacky make it to the markets.

Ms Cashin said she once had received a vase full of someone's ashes.

"It was a little daunting having someone's ashes here and we were hoping someone would come and pick them up because they threw them out by mistake, but they didn't," she said.

"We ended up getting rid of them because they were too creepy to keep hold of.

"Another time, someone brought in a painting which they thought was very expensive, but it was in fact the frame that was worth the money."

Shopping at the market is also guilt-free, with 60% of the profits being put back into local charities.

"We sponsor many local sporting and charity events, including the recent Carols by Candlelight," Ms Cashin said.

"The rest is put back into our resources here, which in turn goes back to the charities."

And those who visit the markets will notice one distinct difference.

"We don't smell like a normal rubbish dump," Ms Cashin said.

"There are no flies or birds.

"I think people will be shocked to see what we can offer and the amazing and beautiful treasures to look at and buy."

  • The Beerwah, Caloundra and Witta Resource Recovery facilities are open seven days a week from 8am to 5pm.
  • The recycling market is open 9am to 4pm every Saturday.

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