Reverse Garbage is the awesomest, kookiest, most random shop in the city. Ok, so it’s a big claim to make – but where else would you find giant Christmas baubles, a bowling pin costume, a giant poster of well-endowed man cut out of green fabric and silver tinsel-covered wooden palm trees – all amongst all your more run-of-the-mill diverted landfill?
Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Reverse Garbage is a shop that takes in things that businesses (not individuals – they don’t do household junk) would otherwise discard. There’s a huge variety of stuff to be found there, all at a fraction of the price you’d pay if you bought the items new. Plus, there’s the added bonus of being able to divert the discards from landfill – which was the whole point. This shop is a dream for teachers looking for lesson ideas and resources, and for artists looking for supplies and inspiration. There’s also a gift shop, in which all of the items are made from goods from the warehouse. There is some really beautiful stuff in there – great for holiday shopping. Reverse Garbage also runs art workshops in the school holidays; a fun yet sustainable activity for the kids. I get a bigger kick out of shopping at Reverse Garbage than most regular shops – wandering around in there really sparks my imagination. Instead of seeing new things and automatically knowing what they are and what they’ll be used for, I see random bits and pieces and have to try to work out if I can fit them into my life, and what I’ll need to do to them to make them work for me. I like the way it gets my mind running.
We go to Reverse Garbage reasonably regularly and have made some gorgeous finds. We have these beautiful apple green tiles in the kitchen and on the little shelves beside the couches. We use them to place hot foods on, or to ensure the condensation from a cold glass of water doesn’t seep into the wood. We have stripey carpet squares for door mats, a sink for a plant pot and marble offcuts as coasters (backed with vinyl, also from RG). There’s a set of beautiful door handles just hanging around the house until we move somewhere with an equally beautiful door. The wooden lid of the compost bin came from there and so did the supplies for Mr Teeny-bop’s science project a couple of years ago. We’ve also gotten kitchen items, like bowls, plates and a water carafe.
Today, we went in and bought several books of fabric samples. We’ll use some of the fabric to make a wall hanging, another book to sew into, and Yankee Elv will be using one with a particularly wide variety of textures with one of her deaf-blind clients. We also picked up some new coathangers, Christmas baubles and gift bags. At the last minute, we decided to pick up some cardboard tubes and rubber discs, from which we’re going to make decorative knitting needle holders.
Reverse Garbage carries so many different kinds of things, so there is something there for everyone. There are:
- Basic kinds of materials, like wood, metal, plastic, rubber, rolls and piles of cloth of every variety, vinyl, leather, sheepskin, cork, paper, cardboard, pvc pipes, plant pots, tiles, mirrors, glass, foam, giant posters, poster-boards and carpet.
- Bulk items that businesses don’t want anymore, like take-away noodle boxes, cardboard poster tubes, cardboard ice-cream cups, cd cases (and cds), dvd and video cases, buttons and zippers, glass bottles and jars, bags and boxes, plastic tubing, wooden dowel, door handles, shade cloth, chocolate moulds, old electronics and books of fabric samples.
- Unusual items that the shop gets batches of, like plaster dental moulds, kitchen sinks, teddy bear eyes, plaster casts of feet (with and without toes), snow globes, charity badges and wrist bands, springs, chain maille and polo shirt collars (no shirts though!).
- Truly one-off items, like a piano, the giant penis poster man, a lattice door, animal pelt (totally gross), Coca Cola headresses (complete with wigs), a heavy black wooden box with purple circles on it and no opening of any kind and the aforementioned giant baubles, palm trees and bowling pin costume.
Yup, it’s weird. I’ve no idea where these things came from, and yet there they are – yours for the taking buying.
Reverse Garbage is located at 269 Montague Rd, West End, Brisbane (just up from Davies Park, where the West End Green Markets are held). It’s situated beside and closely affiliated with The Bicycle Revolution, a shop that restores old bikes. If you’re not in Brisbane you can still shop there – they can work with you to arrange delivery. They do have links to similar shops in other states on their Links page though. You can keep up with what’s new in the store via their website or their Facebook page. I definitely recommend popping in when you get a chance – it’s worth it.
The Green Edge
The Green Edge is a Brisbane-based non-profit organisation specialising in vegan everything. The organisation (started by a Qld Vegsoc society member, I believe) runs an actual shop as well as an online shop. The group also work to provide information and consultation and facilitate vegan events (I heard someone talking about a cheese and wine night held the evening before, which I actually received an invitation to since I’d bought vitamins at The Green Edge online before, but I didn’t notice it cos I’m a slacker when it comes to checking my email).
I went to the shop in Enoggera for the first time on the weekend (great location for people living in the north-west of Brisbane – not me though – but I was going to be over that side of town anyway, so it seemed like a good opportunity to drop in). Anyway, I went in, and it had this great atmosphere and the lady working there (Kamina; the owner?) was lovely. She said hi and stuff, but wasn’t all following us around pressuring us to buy things. I hate that, and she didn’t do it at all, so that was great. At the same time, I felt like she was very approachable, so if I had questions, she was happy to take the time to help me out. I did have a question too. I wanted to know if Omega 3 Flaxseed capsules are ok out of the fridge, since the oil must be refrigerated. (Apparently the capsules protect the oil, so it’s ok at room temperature.) She also very nicely sold Yankee Elv and I some single serve Tofutti ice-creams, since we didn’t want to buy the whole box. We just asked and she said yes. 🙂
Anyway, that shop is like Mrs Flannery’s on super vegan drugs. As awesome as Flannery’s is, The Green Edge was awesomer, from a vegan perspective. I get excited when I go to Mrs Flannery’s, but when I went to The Green Edge, I was in vegan heaven. I didn’t have to check the ingredients on anything at all and it was fabulous! There were still bulk bins, so I could shop there without generating more junk than I normally do, I think. I saw so many things I’d never tried before, like Sheese and Teese and lots of frozen fantastic-ness (like Cocoluscious, a coconut-milk based ice-cream made by another of the Qld Vegsoc members). There were also things I hadn’t had in aaaaaaages (like Tofutti cuties, which are incredibly hard to get in Australia – I had a mint one, yum!). I wanted to try so many freezer items and I couldn’t buy any because we weren’t coming straight home afterwards, so they would have defrosted in the car. I see another trip to the shop in the near future… with freezer bags in tow.
Since I couldn’t buy frozen stuff, I got what I came for – vegan vitamins. However, I also stocked up on some Environmental Toothbrushes, since this shop actually had some! Last time I needed a toothbrush, Yankee Elv had to get me one made in the USA from recycled yoghurt cups because no-one had the wooden one… I choose to believe I am a victim of my own blog post‘s success… yeah, right!. Incidentally, the plastic toothbrush is not bad, but recycled or not, it’s still plastic. Plus, it’s three times the price of the wooden one.
Anyway. I’m off track. Essentially – go to The Green Edge. These people rock and there are loads of vegan things there for you to try. 🙂