My Trip to Australia: Reuse

Kristen Aubut

I recently took a trip down under. My husband, two-year-old son and I stayed for three weeks in New South Wales, Australia. We stayed in my husband’s grandmother’s old farmhouse. Her land is quiet and still now, but it once bustled with activity as a dairy farm.

The primary purpose for traveling to this far away land was to meet my husband’s family for the first time. My unspoken secondary purpose was to keep a lookout for indications of the relationship Australians have with their environment. Is their environmental viewpoint similar to those of Americans? What value do they place on their country’s flora and fauna? To what extent do they protect their natural resources from overuse? From the people I met and the things I saw in Australia, I found that, in general, Australians appreciate and make a strong effort to take care of the unique land they call home.

My husband’s grandmother’s property was bursting at the seams with indications of environmental concern and natural resource conservation. The first indications of wise resource consumption I saw were the numerous examples of reuse hiding around every corner on her farm. When an item could no longer be used for its intended purpose, instead of throwing it in the trash, his grandparents assigned a new purpose to it. Everything had a second life.

Take a look of some of the reuse examples I came across during my visit.

Here are a bathroom sink and fence post that have been bolted together to become a planter in the garden.Can you tell what this gate used to be? Old metal bed frames have multiple purposes.These old tires have been cut in half to make planters next to the garage.My husband’s grandfather was once quite the dancer. This is one of his old dancing shoes. There are two examples of reuse going on here. Years ago, when the black shoe strings snapped from constant tying and untying, he replaced the broken shoe string with a green ribbon and got back on the dance floor. Then, when his dancing days were through, a brick was shoved inside the shoe and placed in the laundry room as a door stop.
The birds of Australia are very impressive with their colors and unique voices. Many Australians keep native birds as pets. This is an old bird cage whose inhabitant has long passed. Look at what was used as the bird’s water container. A coffee mug.In their younger days, my husband’s grandparents maintained an enormous vegetable garden. To build the perimeter of the garden, wood planks and piping were extracted from old projects to serve as a new fence. Look closely and you will see that, instead of being held together by nails, wire was threaded through a hole and wound together to keep the posts in place. All of these fence materials were salvaged from around the farm. They were rarely bought new.The same is true for this shed. Look at the metal sheeting peeling off the base of the wall. Building materials were used over and over again.
Notice how this door lock was fashioned out of scraps from around the farm.
At one time, dozens of chucks (baby chickens) scurried around the yard. One of the chuck houses was made from a cistern turned over on its side. This cistern had probably become too rusty to continue storing the family’s drinking water.For many places around the world, reuse is not a concept that environmental groups have to encourage citizens to adopt. Reuse is a necessity for life. The idea that a product should be used for its intended purpose then thrown into a landfill is an idea that many in this world cannot afford.

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