The health benefits of a decent rest and the simple comfort of a place to lay your head at the end of the day is a luxury many take for granted.
But this wasn’t the case for Martin Seelander, who lives and works in the remote Goldfields town of Laverton. Marty noticed how the lack of simple amenities within the community, such as bedding, was affecting many residents, so he decided to take action.
Mr Seelander says he saw “an opportunity to help some of our residents in our community”. He identified that “to just replace some mattresses could certainly help.”
So he called Robert Santoro, a former garbage collector in Perth, asking for mattress donations.
Mr Santoro has worked in verge collections and has been recycling mattresses for years. He has a passion for recycling, and took up the challenge of using his skills to help bring Indigenous remote communities a decent night’s sleep.
Mr Santoro recycles mattresses in a variety of ways. The mattresses that can’t be used again go to what he called “his slaughterhouse”, where he strips and guts them.
“The steel gets taken away, and the foam gets taken away, whatever can get recycled does, and the rest got to land fill,” he explains.
The mattresses that can be reused are cleaned and disinfected, so they can be sent to a new home.
Mr Santoro says the “throwaway” nature of modern society is evident to him, as he’s collected many mattresses from the verge that have been barely used – even some that once retailed for as much as $4000.
He has also worked with troubled youth for years throughout the local community, mentoring and teaching trade skills. This experience has compelled him to take on the mattress recycling project on a larger scale. Soon, the trips to the dump could end, as transport and mining companies like Linfox and Centurion have come on-board, and are making plans to transport recycled mattresses across the state.
Before taking on this endeavour, Mr Santoro’s Spider Waste Management company had a high turnover of mattresses, most of which would end up in landfill. But now, Mr Santoro’s warehouse looks like any kid’s dream playground, as it’s nearly packed to the ceiling with dozens upon dozens of mattresses.
“We generally pick up about 400 a week from the verge collections, bed shops.”
With the trucks now hitting the road loaded with mattresses, some communities are going to be able to rest easier now.
"From what I hear, some of the communitites, they got scabbies out there, or they're sleeping on the floor. It might be recycled mattresses, but they're cleaned as much as they can and it's like liquid gold to them.This is beautiful. I wouldn't want to sleep on the floor on a cold night," Mr Santoro says.