• Decluttering - without sending anything to the tip - is a good move after the holidays. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The pay-offs for minimising landfill are plenty - from feeding people in need to letting you reclaim that space at the back of your cupboard again.
Stephen A. Russell

10 Jan 2018 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 2 Mar 2021 - 6:27 PM

With Christmas cheer fast fading from memory and most of us back at our desks, it’s easy to forget that the aftermath of this time of excess can be pretty wasteful.

If you received a fancy sous-vide machine, nifty hand-held blender or slick new slow cooker, what will you do with the old models? Stash them in the back of a kitchen cupboard or, worse, dump them in the trash?

Here are a few handy tips from SBS presenter and all-round kitchen guru Adam Liaw and OzHarvest’s Henrietta Ardlie on how to leave a smaller imprint on our planet and help out others while you’re at it.

Stop and think

We all enjoy shiny and new things, but chances are there’s life still left in your much-loved kitchen tools, so maybe ask yourself if it’s really time to say goodbye?

“I’m actually in love with quite a lot of old appliances and keep most of those around,” Liaw says. “I made my Christmas pavlova on a 1970s MixMaster still going strong. I do have a fancy KitchenAid as well, but there’s nothing wrong with a load of those old small appliances that can often be really fun to use.”

Make do and mend

Even when it seems like they are giving up the ghost, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can't breathe new life back into your old kitchen gadgets.

“That’s a bit of a skill that I think we’ve lost,” Liaw says. “There are lots of community services where people can help you fix your old appliances. Try taking it into an electronic shop or ask someone handy if they know what’s wrong with it. Maybe you can salvage a piece from another MixMaster or whatever and get it back into good working shape - a lovely project.”


Share the love

If you’re digging the upgrade to your equipment, try sending a shout-out on social media to see if any of your mates would welcome your well-loved stuff.

“You’d be surprised - if you take a photo and put it up on Facebook or Gumtree or the like, asking if anyone wants it, you end up catching up with an old mate, handing over your MixMaster and they buy you a beer in return,” says Liaw.

“We have a grocery store that we go to very regularly and there are always notices up on their board. That’s a really good place to start,” he adds.

Even if you do opt for hard rubbish, it may never make it to landfill. “I’m pretty diligent when I put stuff out on the median strip,” Liaw says. “I always put a note on there saying either what’s wrong with it, or if I’m just getting rid of it, and 15 seconds later it’s gone before the council comes around.”

Donate to charity

It’s worth phoning ahead if you’re going to donate to an op shop, because not all stores take electrical goods.

A representative for The Salvation Army says, “Salvos stores accept donations of white goods and electrical items that are good quality and are in working order at selected stores. We encourage people to give their local store a call before dropping them off to ensure they can accept the item, or to be directed to their nearest store that can. Alternatively free home collection can be organised by calling us on 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).”

Borrow what you can

Looping back to Liaw’s first idea, another thing to consider is if you really need that whizz-bang new appliance in the first place? How often are you going to use it? If you want to try your hand at a celebrity-chef technique for a fancy dinner, maybe you could borrow the required gadget from a mate, hire it, or work around it? 

We all enjoy shiny and new things, but chances are there’s life still left in your much-loved kitchen tools, so maybe ask yourself if it’s really time to say goodbye?

Opt for upcycling

Upcycling is a creative alternative to donating, taking the dearly loved item and reusing it in imaginative and sometimes quite beautiful ways, whether it’s a tea-set light fixture, rolling pin hangers or a colander-turned-plant-holder. Take a look at these ideas.

Turn your old phone into a meal

Food-rescue charity OzHarvest has teamed up with mobile phone recycling program MobileMuster for the second year running.

For every old phone surrendered to MobileMuster this summer, OzHarvest will deliver one free meal to one of the three million Australians experiencing food insecurity each year. They’re hoping to exceed last year’s total of 60,000 meals-for-mobiles by 10,000.

Henrietta Ardlie, head of fundraising at OzHarvest says that food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion annually and that’s a shocking state of affairs - especially considering how endemic food insecurity is, too.

“It’s utterly disheartening,” she says. “In Australia, hunger is a hidden issue, and far more heartbreaking for us is that a third of [people affected] are actually kids, so they’re going to school without breakfast and coming home and not having dinner whilst we know that there is so much food being thrown out by restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and also by everyday households.”

Ardlie adds that waste is something we should all tackle. “It really is an issue for every one of us in our society - the responsibility for the waste that we produce, whether it’s electronic or food waste, and as individuals, we can make an enormous difference in our impact on the environment by just making small changes.”

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