By Stella Robison

The Bower bird is a resourceful bird.  In urban environments some Bower birds fascinated with the colour blue, have been known to source man-made objects like blue pegs and blue milk bottle rings to use in their nest building.

So it would only make perfect sense that this bird is the mascot of the Bower Reuse and Repair Centre, an environmental charity with the main aim of diverting items from landfill.      They aspire to do this by collecting and selling second hand furniture, appliances, household goods, salvaged building materials, and also run DIY workshops to enable reuse and repair whether it be furniture or electronic items.

The Bower Marrickville have partnered with the Sydney Community College to run Australia’s one and only Tiny House course using recycled material. The course which was developed by Upcyclist James Gallantly is a 6 day intensive course teaches you how to build a Tiny House using recycled and reclaimed materials from Bower and other second hand timber yards. The Upcyclist James says,“ when I build tiny houses I start to use a whole lot more than just recycled timber.  Those little houses hold a special place in my world. I think they represent so may worthy ideals, all packaged into one thoughtfully designed piece of architecture; low impact living, debt free living, owner built housing, minimalism, limited consumerism, craftsmanship and community.”

At the recent Bower’s 20th anniversary auction, two Tiny Houses were auctioned off. They weighed only two tonnes each (including the trailer) making it tow-able and weather-proof.  The Tiny Houses are a fantastic way to escape the pressures of modern home ownership, live off the grid and appreciate a cleverly designed to maximise space, minimising scale and environmental impact.

We spoke to Louise Grace, The Bower’s Collection and Re-homing manager who shared that, “we [The Bower] use our store, our consignment program, our workshop and repair cafes to educate people on how to look after furniture or how to prepare furniture to extend its life and slow down the manufacturing and consumer model of things. We don’t accept furniture made from chipboard or MDF as they can’t be recycled and try to educate people why we can’t accept it and the benefits of using solid wood.  It will outlast you -you can oil it, stain it, paint it to suit your changing needs, you can up-cycle it.”

To their pioneering repair cafes located in Marrickville and Redfern one “can bring along a chair with wobbly legs or a broken toaster, a bike with wobbly wheels.  Rather than doing the work for them, the [technicians] guide them and show them how to do it so next time an item breaks they actually have the confidence and skills to repair it themselves.”

Visit The Bower in store or online to learn how you can incorporate the resourceful culture of reuse, recycle and repair into your life today.