The Bower - Traders of the Lost Artefact


During the daylight hours for the past five years I’ve been managing, as a job-share, a community-based reuse centre. My co-pilot and I have, as of 2007, passed the reins to a new manager. Like businesses, such as Urban Ore, in California, we take in unwanted, yet still functional goods, mostly from private households and light commercial enterprises, and find new owners for them. What makes the Bower (named after a native bird that collects blue items to attract mates) different to most second-hand stores is that it is a not-for-profit, community-based co-operative. It is effectively owned by local people and managed for them. It is not a for-profit business, nor a fundraising venture for a charity or church organisation. This frees it to pursue a raft of sustainability initiatives. Like harvesting rainwater for washing and gardening, running a truck on biodiesel, environmental education for schools, working out of Sydney’s first strawbale building, where everything from the roof trusses to the computers are salvaged items. Though limited in resources and physical space, the Bower provides a service to about one third of all Sydney residents. Working with 15 local councils, it offers a referral facility, to connect customers with over 1,000 other reuse or repair businesses in the city. Very satisfying work in a country with one of the world’s highest per capita waste streams. It’s been fabulous five years, recently culminating in an award for Sustainability Leadership.::The Bower.

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