10 traditional outback reuse and recycle tips

Resources have always been scarce in the outback and pioneers were experts in creative ways to make-do, mend and reinvent. It still a mindset that comes naturally to us here. One of the first rules of outback living is never throw stuff away because you never know when it might come in handy! Here are just some of the ways we reduce waste and reduce our environmental footprint:  

10 traditional outback reuse and recycle tips

1. Make a mailbox
Why would you buy a mailbox when you’ve got perfectly good oil drums lying around? Outback mailboxes are a study in quirky creativity and there’s no reason why city folks couldn’t follow the trend!

2. Sew a quilt
Any scraps of old clothes or curtains are ideal to sew together into a bed quilt or throw. These days people often buy fabric for quilting but originally it was a great way to reuse material from other worn-out items!

3. Tyres are always useful
Don’t let your old tyres go to landfill or become unsightly fire risks, use them as flower planters or to grow your leafy vegetables.

4. Cherish your old timber!
Old fence palings or gate posts make ideal timber for interior features. Doors can be table-tops and boxes or trunks can be coffee tables. It saves trees and gives character to your home.

5. Be inventive!
Check out some of the outback inventions at The Welcome Home in Longreach. Who’d have thought you could use an old bicycle like that!

6. Cold tea has its uses
How often do you throw away the remains of tea in a teapot? Not in the outback! Here’s just one simple recipe to make use of it:

Abigail Kinnon’s Iced Tea Recipe

  • brewed tea
ice cubes

  • sugar
  • lemon slices
mint springs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Use cooled tea that is at room temp. (If you try to cool the tea too quickly it will make it go cloudy.)
 Put a little sugar to taste into boiling water and stir until dissolved. Let cool a little and then add to cooled tea, ice cubes, lemon slices and mint sprig. Sit on the veranda and enjoy on a hot summer afternoon!

7. Poultry house helper
Keeping chooks has its own lifecycle of reuse. Pioneers collected all the poultry house feathers for pillows or cushions. Today we still use egg cartons for seedling trays. Eggs shells can add calcium to your compost and can be broken up and sprinkled around plants to deter slugs and snails.

8. Create tea-towel tablecloths
When tea-towels are past their best for drying, sew them together to make a tablecloth. Many tea-towels are really attractive or remind you of your travels and they make a unique and personal table-covering.

9. Turn old sheets into rag rugs
It’s not hard to crochet strips of old sheets into a soft and washable rug! Every pioneering woman knew how but you can still find instructions online.

10. Make fire-bricks from newspapers
Outback winter nights can be cold and every homestead had a fireplace. Soaking old newspapers, pressing them into shape and drying them created good fuel. If you don’t have a fireplace, use them in a wood-burning stove or on your BBQ. Again, you’ll find plenty of instructions online.

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