Source:  ABC Radio Perth By Emma Wynne

A number of initiatives in Perth are challenging our throwaway culture by encouraging community giving, repairing and more thoughtful buying.

David Klein founded Perth’s first Buy Nothing group in early 2016 as a way to solve a few problems after moving house, but it has become so much more.

“I had just moved, got rid of some things, needed some things, didn’t know any of my neighbours yet, and that was right around the time I heard about the international Buy Nothing project,” Mr Klein said.

He set up a Facebook group for people in his suburb to offer things they no longer wanted free to people in the area.

The idea took off and there are now 110 groups with 55,000 members throughout Western Australia.

Residents have since offered everything from cars and pianos to small glass jars.

“You become more woven into your community through the exchanges you have with your neighbours,” Mr Klein told ABC Radio Perth.

Millions of things given away

He estimates the WA groups have saved millions of items from going to landfill.

“Last time I calculated it, our group had given away about 25,000 items,” he said.

“Talking to another group, they were averaging 250 items a day — that is 70,000 a year.

“I think you could conservatively say that 2 million items have been saved from landfill, and it could be as high as 5 million.”

It was not part of the plan, but being part of the Buy Nothing movement has changed Mr Klein’s attitude to stuff, even when it’s free.

“When there is an endless amount of free stuff to be had, you have to ask yourself a little more deeply: Do I really want this thing?

“And your mind tends to shift to being a little less consumerist and think: What are the things that I am cluttering up my life with, cluttering up my house with?”

Australians buying and throwing away more

Julie Leslie is a sustainable fashion blogger who also wants people to stop and think before they consume in a bid to curb what she said were “ridiculous statistics” around textile waste.

“We are buying about 60 per cent more than we were 15 years ago and we are keeping it for half as long,” she said.

“On average, Australian women are wearing their garments an average of four to seven times before throwing them out.”

Part of the problem, she said, was that people were buying cheap, poorly made clothes that were not built to last, could not be mended or resold in op shops and therefore ended up in landfill.

“There is no conscious consumerism with fast fashion unfortunately,” Ms Leslie said.

“It’s just churn and burn and chuck it out and move onto the next thing faster than you can blink.”

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