ACT News

Canberrans give away around five bikes a day, double over Christmas

Canberra is known as the cycling city of Australia, but it is  also a keen recycling city when it comes to human-powered pedals.

The ACT's Green Shed – which resells unwanted items – collects an average of four to five bikes a day across its two venues, co-owner Sandie Parkes said.

About 8000 people go through the ACT's two Green Sheds each year to donate unwanted items. This one is at Mugga Lane ...
About 8000 people go through the ACT's two Green Sheds each year to donate unwanted items. This one is at Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre in Symonston. Photo: Melissa Adams

"I know from experience that the drop-off rate doubles over the Christmas break and summer period," she said.

"We probably only throw out around 200 out of every 10,000 bikes."

Bikes start to pile up in a skip at the Green Shed at Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre in Symonston.
Bikes start to pile up in a skip at the Green Shed at Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre in Symonston. Photo: Melissa Adams

The rest of the bikes taken to either the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre in Symonston or the Flemington Road Resource Management Centre in Mitchell are resold or donated.

Some older and well-worn bikes are given to primary schools where students with learning difficulties work on them to "help them focus", while others are given to refugees via the Braidwood Lyons Club.

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The Christmas break is a hectic time for the Green Shed staff, who are also inundated with deliveries of old toys, clothes, homeware and furniture.

"We get a lot of household items such as plates, cups and glasses because a lot of people get new sets at Christmas," Mrs Parkes said.

Since opening in 2010, they have saved more than 38 million kilograms from landfill, donated more than 2 million pieces of clothing and sold more than 41 million items (down to individual screws and door knobs) including about 61,000 bikes.

They have raised almost $300,000 for 30 charities and also process about 700,000 kilograms of reusables each month, Mrs Parkes said.

"We have 8000 people come through each year ... and give away about one third of potential profit.

"While we manage everything quite well, our biggest problem is that we get offered far too many lounges and we have just got such limited space."

She said she has furnished whole houses for refugees and domestic violence victims for free and is always willing to give away items to those in need.

Canberrans can also support charity donating their old mobile phones to the recycling program, MobileMuster​, until the end of January.

The program reports that for every kilogram of mobile phones and phone accessories taken to drop-off points around Canberra, including various post offices and phone stores, it will donate $2 to the Salvation Army.

A MobileMuster spokesperson estimated that more than 90 per cent of mobile phone materials were recyclable and that 22.5 million old phones were currently sitting unused in homes around Australia.