Make-do & mend

Australians are the third-largest per capita waste producers in the world, behind the USA and Canada. Only 8.6% of our waste is recovered and reused or recycled meaning that 91.4% is wasted and sent into landfill.

Waste sent to landfill is costly to manage, creates carbon emissions, and means valuable resources are no longer part of the productive economy.

So what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment?

Join the circular economy

By changing our consumer behaviour, and reimagining what we consider "waste", we can reduce our impact on the environment. Mending, repairing, choosing reusables, or sharing items with a friend rather than buying them outright are some of the ways we can keep materials in circulation for longer, reducing our impact.


Every dollar you spend has an impact on our environment and our economy, it is called ‘dollar voting’. By spending money on a given item, you send a signal to the market that this item is important to our society. So, before you purchase something new, stop and ask yourself, do I really need it? Will I use it?

Sustainable choices like refusing single-use products reduce our reliance on raw materials to manufacture single-use items, and lessen our impact on the environment

Here are a few ways to refuse:

  • Straws: if you don’t need one, refuse it when you order your drink otherwise, carry a reusable one with you.
  • Freebies and collectables: unless you don’t have it at home, refuse it, it’s likely you won’t use it.
  • Plastic shopping bags: carry a reusable one with you to avoid taking one during your next groceries.
  • Junk mail: order free ‘No junk mail’ stickers here.


One of the most significant impacts people can have is to reduce their carbon emissions. While this can be daunting, there are small changes that are easy to adopt and that can make a difference overall. At Waverley Council, 45% of the content in the red bin is food waste. An easy way to reduce this is to:

  • Buy only what you need
  • Use mature fruit for smoothies, juices and desserts
  • Store food wisely
  • Understand food labelling
  • Compost

Making the switch to reusable products is another great way to reduce our consumption. While reusable products can be a bit more expensive upfront they can save you money long term! Waverley Council is currently offering residents a rebate of up to $100 for the purchase of cloth nappies and $50 for the purchase of reusable sanitary products with proof of purchase. This trial aims to reduce the number of single-use disposable products going to landfill and support residents to make the switch to more sustainable alternatives, like reusables. If you have been wanting to trial these products, now is the time. Learn more here.

Overall, reducing our reliance on natural or energy-intensive resources as well as our consumption can be as simple as having more vegetarian or plant-based meals, avoiding single-use products, and adopting a reuse mindset. These small changes can make a big impact over a lifetime!


Reusing an object maximises the value of the materials and energy used to produce that object by prolonging its life cycle and preventing it from becoming waste. Options for donating, selling, and swapping items are listed below.


  • The Bower

    The Bower
    is an award-winning environmental charity offering programs and services to create a circular economy.
    • The Bower Collection and Rehoming Service provides Waverley Council residents with reuse and rehoming options for items that are still in good condition. The Bower can collect good quality reusable items direct from your home. They will collect, repair and resell goods diverted from the municipal waste stream. Phone 9568 6280.

    Check out The Bower's Reuse Database - a great tool to help you rehome or dispose of the items in the most sustainable way possible. It also finds places to repair your household items.

  • Reverse garbage

    Reverse Garbage collects and resells industrial and commercial off-cuts for reuse in art projects and for education purposes. The Marrickville warehouse is open to the public so have a look - you never know what interesting, unusual and useful items you’ll find! Phone 9569 3132.
  • Arnies Recon

    Arnies Recon offers a bookable pick-up of electronics and appliances. They accept working or broken electronics and have no minimum or maximum requirements of what they can pick up. Phone 0472 629 154.
  • The Reconnect Project

    The Reconnect Project accepts all makes and models of mobile phones and tablets, regardless of their age or condition. They work with women's refuges, homelessness agencies, refugee and asylum seeker support services and youth outreach programs to help close the digital divide.


Need something gone quickly - try the 'free' sections of online listings sites to efficiently give away household items you no longer need. Try these local groups:


Swapping is the new shopping! At a swap party, you can bring along something you don't want and swap it for something you do. Organisations such as The Clothing Exchange and The Relove Movement hold regular swap events around Sydney. Alternatively, organise your own swap party with friends - it can be clothes, shoes or appliances!


You can hold your own garage sale any time, and you don’t even need a garage, host it on your front lawn, talk with your neighbour to host it on common property, or contact Council to find public locations! This is a great way to meet your neighbours and have a fun day.

Keep an eye out for garage sales in your neighbourhood or join the annual Garage Sale Trail, an event hosted across Australia that started right here in Bondi Beach.


When things become worn or stop working, they can end up in landfill. By fixing and maintaining these items, we can keep them functioning longer.

Check the list below to find out about local repair solutions:

Many other privately run repair businesses can bring shoes, clothing, electrical goods and more back to use.


The sharing economy is expanding beyond simply borrowing a book at the library. Think about businesses like Airbnb, Lime Bikes or Netflix. These businesses successfully provide a service that removes the need for ownership to fulfil customer needs.

Accessing a service to rent or share a product rather than owning it offers many benefits to both the community, the economy and our environment.

Save money, space and the environment by borrowing instead of buying, and enable a stronger community.

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