Smart Building and Living Expo inspires sustainable lifestyle changes

ballaratswaronwaste 2019SBALExpoCreative ideas can give a new purpose to something that would have otherwise been discarded.

Rochelle Kirkham

That was the theme of the Can Do Communities display at the Smart Building and Living Festival in Buninyong on Sunday.

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Kerrie Tomkins demonstrated ways to breathe new life into second hand furniture and homewares at the expo, transforming old furniture to a bright new feature for her home.

An old shabby orange cushioned bar stool now has a funky blue cushion top to match a freshly painted vase and table decorations.

I try to make the least amount of waste as possible. Everything is repurposed or upcycled.
- Kerrie Tomkins

Ms Tomkins said it has been years since she has purchased any new furniture. Up-cycling the old has saved her hundreds of dollars and reduced her waste.

"If I decide I don’t like the decor or the colours aren’t right I will make a change by painting it or reupholstering it," she said.

"Even down to a doona cover, I use the old ones for Boomerang Bags. I try to make the least amount of waste as possible. Everything is re-purposed or up-cycled. I could go for over a month without putting bins out."

Ms Tomkins uses chalk paint that is easy to use, dries quickly and has no odour.

upcycledfurniture 2019SBALExpo

Photo: Kerrie Tomkins old furniture revamped with chalk paint on show at the Smart Building and Living Festival in Buninyong.

She said her work attracted a lot of interest at the expo on Sunday, with many people stopping to chat saying they were inspired to have a go at up-cycling their own furniture because it looked so easy to do.

"My suggestion is to get something small and mess around with it," she said.

"I buy a tin of white chalk paint and tubes of acrylic paint and mix up my own colours. Just have a go. If you get something that is small and cheap from the op shop to start you get to build your confidence."

The Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group Can Do Community Program display also showed expo visitors how small appliances can be fixed, how sewing repairs can help garments last longer, how to care and repair for books and other ideas to reduce waste like community composting and community gardens.

collectiveboomerangbags 2019SBALExpoBoomerang Bags on display as part of the Can Do Communities Program. Picture: Buninyong Sustainability

Executive officer La Vergne Lehmann said the program was about building community capacity to reduce waste.

"We are very excited about showing the community how easy it to get some of these activities happening and how they can help reduce our waste, save money and bring a community together at the same time," she said.

More than 1500 people attended the Smart Building and Living Expo at Royal Park, a substantial increase on attendance last year.

Around 70 businesses and community groups were involved in stalls and displays.

nordtronderlagcabin 2019SBALExpoNord Trondelag cabin on display. Picture: Buninyong Sustainability

Expo director Andrea Mason said there was a growing interest in sustainability and more people looking to create greener lifestyle habits.

"There has definitely been a shift based on a lot of good work being done in this space on the back of war against waste, the waste issue in general, energy prices and everyone is picking up on it now. Once upon a time sustainability was something that was scoffed at," she said.

"The people who come to these expos are hungry for knowledge. The feedback from the stallholders were they were getting a lot of questions and people were looking for that information so they could make changes.

"We hope people are able to take what they have learnt and put it into action and build on that in future. I see very clear need to address climate change. People need to be able to do that in a way that fits in with their lifestyles. I believe in the power of consumers to drive change."

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