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  • Toowoomba

Carolyn gives recycling the green thumbs up

One tiny bag of garbage is all Carolyn Cloake has to throw in her bin at the end of each week. The avid environmentalist has made recycling an artform and she is encouraging her neighbours at Seachange Lifestyle Resort Toowoomba to get into the spirit. “Each of us can do fairly simple things to protect our environment and minimise the amount of rubbish we send to landfill,” Carolyn said. “We can all make small changes like taking a reusable bag when we buy fruit and vegies rather than using a plastic bag, just as we did with groceries.


“Today, people are very quick to throw things out – it is easy and convenient but often it is because they don’t know what else they can do with the things they no longer want. “A lot of  items can be recycled if you know where to go. Batteries can be dropped off at the supermarket, for example, and Toowoomba Regional Council has excellent recycling facilities that takes larger items like e-waste, metal, cardboard, polystyrene. Old pens, markers and ink cartridges can be dropped into Officeworks for recycling and old sports shoes can go to  sports retailers. “Recycling takes a bit of effort but, as consumers, we need to take responsibility for what we buy and do our bit to reduce our own environmental footprint. “Older people are often great role models. Many of them grew up in times when you had to make things last. Things were made to be repaired and you couldn’t just go to the shop and buy new.”



Toowoomba Regional Council Water and Waste Committee portfolio leader Cr Nancy Sommerfield congratulated Carolyn Cloake’s tremendous recycling efforts. “Carolyn is showing how easily residents can reduce their own waste streams,” Cr Sommerfield said. “Carolyn is a shining example of how household behaviour can help Council reduce, reuse and recycle precious resources to divert more material from our landfills. “Diverting recyclable material from landfill reduces operating costs and promotes further environmental benefits.”


Carolyn bundles up her unwanted clothes, sheets and towels and posts them to a manufacturer for upcycling where the material is repurposed into upholstery filling, insulation and many other uses. “If you wouldn’t give it to your best friend, you shouldn’t send it to the op shop. We all like to donate old clothes to charity but many of the stores are so overloaded that they have to dispose of a lot of the unsuitable clothing.” Kitchen scraps go into the worm farm and compost bin to feed the organic community garden run by a group of Seachange residents. “The garden is great fun and we love to share home grown organic produce with everyone in the community,” said Carolyn. The Seachange community now has a collection bin near the resort clubhouse where everyone is encouraged to deposit their cans and bottles to raise money for charity.


Carolyn and her husband John moved to Seachange Toowoomba, part of the Ingenia over 50s Communities, from their acreage property on the Sunshine Coast 18 months ago. They were attracted by the community’s beautifully landscaped gardens and environmentally friendly design, which includes built-in water recycling and solar power to help reduce household running costs.



As a teacher’s aide, Carolyn led the student environment squad at Mooloolaba State school teaching primary school children how to do their bit to care for the environment. “Growing up on a farm we learnt to make use of what was available and I have taken a lot of those experiences with me through life. We only went to town once a week and weren’t used to having new all the time,” she said. Cr Sommerfield said Council was continuing to expand recycling options at the Region’s waste facilities. “Council is working to transition in line with the state government targets for 90% of our waste being reused and diverted from landfill by 2050. “Recycling initiatives reinforce a circular economy where product streams can be recycled, repurposed or reused, for instance the use of glass in road construction.”