When it comes to repurposing and recycling waste, the old saying ‘one person’s junk is another’s treasure’ couldn’t be closer to the truth. It’s also one of the easiest ways to do our bit for the environment.

As part of Achieve’s My Life Day Programs, recycling projects have been integrated into the weekly schedule to form an upcycling group. The group uses recyclable materials such as plastic bottles, glass jars, cardboard boxes or coffee canisters to create unique handmade gifts and homewares. Some recent projects include: potted succulents; bird feeders and cat scratchers; lanterns; board games; wall art; drink coasters; plus much more.

I can see a real sense of pride when participants show their work to others. They say ‘I made that!’ to people and it’s lovely to see.

Lillian Patterson, Day Program staff member

It’s not only benefiting the environment, participants are also enjoying the new creative projects. Lillian Patterson, who oversees the Upcycling Program at Araluen, says that it’s about the opportunity to see something created from materials that would otherwise go to waste and then see them turned into something special.

“I can see a real sense of pride when participants show their work to others. They say ‘I made that!’ to people and it’s lovely to see,” explains Lillian.

Not only that, but participants also get to use their creative and artistic skills as part of the program. “I like doing the painting and making art,” says Natalie who takes part each week.

The group has also had the opportunity to collaborate with other programs at Achieve. After collecting cuttings from the garden, participants received help from the gardening group to create coffee mug planters.


“It’s wonderful to see the different programs sharing their skills; from the gardening group sharing the plants and vegetables they have grown to the cooking group sharing their homemade cookies,” says Lillian.

If you have recyclable items that you would like to donate to the Upcycling Program, the group are currently collecting large empty coffee tins, cardboard toilet roll holders, 2 litre soft drink bottles, small plastic pots for cuttings and seedlings or glass baby food jars. Items can be delivered to Day Program sites at Araluen or Seven Hills from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.

By using a little inspiration and creativity, the Upcycling Group are finding innovative ways to turn waste into something exceptional and we can’t wait to see what they will create next.

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