Bruce May is passionate about recycling, and he has turned that passion into action by creating The Village Exchange Program at the SwanCare’s Bentley Park community where he is a resident.
Bruce says while a lot of older people are recycling, there’s even more that are not.
“Information about recycling is readily available online but there’s lots of people at the village that can’t access it, because they’re not online.”
“I called a meeting at SwanCare to see what we could do to make a difference,” explained Bruce.
“Realisation hit when only four other people came. It indicated that there was not a great deal of interest in it. I identified that the main issue was lack of awareness.
“I also saw in the SwanCare newsletter that people have been putting the wrong items in the Containers for Cash bins. People don’t know that if they put the wrong thing in the recycling bin it can contaminate a whole truckload, and the whole lot has to go to landfill instead of being recycled.”
Items that can be recycled are far and wide, examples of everyday household items include electric toothbrush heads, hair care packs, pens, and batteries. Bruce explains what he hopes to achieve from establishing this initiative.
“The Village Exchange Program is the first step,” explained Bruce, “it’s about giving people the opportunity to recycle more than they do now. And what many people don’t realise is that some of the things they put in recycling can be used in quite creative ways.
“We know an artist in South Australia for example who converts bread tags into artistic objects. And coffee pods… we know someone who recycles the aluminium and uses them in bicycle frames. When people find out they realise they can make a difference if they contribute, they bring in items.”
Bruce and his recycling colleagues also have a repurposing station, which is where they separate items before throwing them away. Some examples of recent items are juice boxes, padlocks, keys and containers.
“With repurposing, it’s making things available to others that might be useful,” said Bruce. “For example, sweets in a nice box – residents leave their unwanted items on a table at the exchange, then others are free to take it away with no cost or obligation.
“There’s a fairly constant number of items there, but if at the end of the month somethings been there a while, then I have to put it in the recycle bin.”
Household items plus books and DVD’s are big ticket items, Bruce says they go quickly.
Bruce is passionate about educating his peers about the importance of recycling. He is actively facilitating change by driving initiatives like The Village Exchange which will help in shifting the perception that only the younger generations recycle.
“I think in the future there should be a requirement to recycle a lot more,” said Bruce.
“I’m aware that it’s very much on the agenda for SwanCare and that there will be a stronger move to encourage people to recycle”.