Bramblewood upcycles for sustainability

The staff at Normanhurst’s Bramblewood Retirement Village in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs have taken the motto of ‘reuse and recycle’ to heart with a creative approach to getting new life out of their unwanted items.

Mike Broadsmith Bramblewood Retirement Village

From turning old tea kettles into hand-painted flower pots to using empty milk bottles as planters in the village’s veggie patch, village staff have found dozens of inventive ways to cut down on waste and help the environment.

Trish Broadsmith, Bramblewood’s village manager, was the first to take on the challenge of ‘upcycling’ objects by repurposing them into something beautiful or practical for use around the village.

“It’s great to be making something new out of our old things instead of throwing them out, and everyone is always curious to see what we’ll come up with next!” she says.

“Our gardens are so stunning and it’s wonderful that our little projects are helping them to flourish.”

Full of native Australian trees and plants, Bramblewood’s gardens are beautifully landscaped by a team of gardeners and enhance the village’s tranquil natural surrounds.

Bramblewood also features a community veggie garden, which provides a space for green-thumbed residents to get their hands dirty and yields delicious, fresh produce for the village’s kitchen.

With sustainability as an existing focus within the village community, Trish’s upcycling idea was the perfect next step.

Her first project involved transforming a pair of her son’s old hiking boots into a planter, which is now an eye-catching garden feature.

“My son was due to go to China and his old boots were looking a bit rough so I told him I’d shout him a new pair,” she says.

“I didn’t want to throw them out because they had so much history, so I thought that I could do something interesting with them.”

“The boots have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, walked through Asia and explored the Australian coast before finally coming home to ‘retire’ in the garden at Bramblewood – many of the residents get quite a kick out of it and my son thought it was brilliant!”

The unique planter has brought plenty of smiles and has inspired many more creative projects, with Trish and other staff always on the lookout for potential ideas.

Next on the list, she says, is a hanging wall planter made from a disused standing fan, proving that just about anything can be transformed in a creative and sustainable way.

Trish encourages everyone to think twice before tossing out old or unwanted items and says that upcycling is a fantastic way to double their use and to exercise some creativity.

“You never know what unexpected treasures you might create!” she says.

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