What to do with your old bras

We women naturally go through life with many bras. Sometimes old favourites become unsuitable as our bodies change. What to do with the old bras that are still pretty good? Surely they don’t deserve to be buried yet? I had the same question a while ago, and found Uplift Project, a global charity that collects old bras, swimmers, new underpants and fabric nappies from people like you and me, and sends them off to disadvantaged communities around the world, including indigenous communities in Australia.

Often the bra received through Uplift will be the only bra that woman owns.

Donating a bra is easy. There is a list of drop off points on their website, which could be a business address or a private residency.

On top of handout bras to much needed communities, Uplift also runs other initiatives as they see fit for the organisations they work with. For example, Uplift Victoria collects books for Solomon Islands.

In addition, Uplift is collecting old socks!

We have trouble getting new socks donated, but we reckon odd socks will be easy to harvest. We’ve all got them, and if Uplift get them all together, we will have lots of viable pairs. Post all your odd socks to Liz Baker, 9 Steven St, Hurstbridge VIC 3099.

How bombshells are turned into jewellery and spoons

Australia is a lucky country compared to Laos and Cambodia, where millions of undetonated bombs threaten lives every day. During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped more than 270 million sub-munitions in an attempt to block the flow of North Vietnamese arms and troops through Laos. This makes Laos the most heavily bombed nation per capita in the world. It is estimated that more than 30% of these sub-munitions failed to explode, leaving Laos with 80 million of undetonated bombs. Since 1973, there have been around 12,000 explosion-related accidents.

Cambodia’s notorious landmine problem is the product of a civil war that spanned three decades and claimed the lives of up to three million people, or one third of the entire population. Today, more than 40,000 people are amputees. The vast majority of the victims are men and thus the traditional bread earner.

It is very expensive to clear lands affected by undetonated bombs. Despite the efforts of the relevant government bodies in both countries, millions of undetonated bombs are still unremoved.

It is within this context that a new type of product was born: recycled bombshell.

Aluminium and brass are commonly used in the construction of bombs. Once exploded, the metals can be melted and made into spoons, chop sticks and jewellery. The local people started with making spoons out of bombshells to feed their children after the war. With the help of western designers and innovative thinkers, they started to turn bombshells into beautiful jewellery.

Recycled bombshell products are ethical in three main ways:

• recycles existing material

• provides extra income for land clearance

• provides job opportunities for local people

You can view how bombshells are turned into jewellery from our Oz Fair Trade’s YouTube channel.

It is estimated that it will take 800 years to eliminate all the undetonated bombs in Laos and Cambodia, but buying these recycled bombshell products can help hasten the process: each purchase supports landmine removal from 5 square meters of land. The farmer-artisans who make the products from wartime scrap metal earn a living for their families while bringing income and investment into their communities.

Q: How did people learn to melt the bomb metals?

A: There is a mysterious story about a man melting metals after the war and made spoons from them. A few men watched him, and the skill was passed from one family to another, from one generation to the next.


Q: Is collecting bomb scraps dangerous?

A: Each country has its own dedicated organisation that carries out skilled land clearings. The people there are well trained and experienced. Generating an income from recycled bombshell products help them to train more people to clear lands affected by undetonated bombs. These people have a very positive attitude: the bombs are here so we might as well do something productive with them.


Q: What is the process from bomb to jewellery/spoon?

A: The artisans use handmade molds, which are made of wood and ash from the fire. They make a square wood box and fill that box with ash or dirt, which is mixed with water. They make the shape – an impression on both sides of the mold – and let it dry to a plaster. When it’s all dry, they pour the metal that they’ve melted from disabled mines in their kiln into a little hole, shaping out the piece. Once it’s cooled, they sand it smooth – into a unique piece of jewellery/spoon.





Own a piece of history. 

Spread a message of peace.

Wear something truly extraordinary.


10 Things You Need To Know About Rubbish Bins

Speaking from my experience of working as a garbo at the National Folk Festival, I can honestly say that some of us are really confused about which bin for what, despite well intentions. So I hope I can be of assistance by sharing what I learned from the garbo experts in my 20-hour-as-a-garbo.

  1. Compost bins are for everything biodegradable e.g. food, paper etc. . Next time before you dispose a piece of plastic, see if you can find the world “biodegradable” on it. If yes, then it’s better to put it into compost bin than recycling bin.
  2. Not all paper are recyclable. Used paper napkins or used tissue paper should go into compost bin.
  3. Please don’t place recyclables or compostables in plastic bags because they will not be sorted due to safety reasons and the whole bags will go to landfill.
  4. Containers with left-over food can be disposed in compost bins only if the containers themselves are biodegradable. If not, then please remove and compost any food or liquid (even water) leftovers and then recycle the container.
  5. Paper coffee cups with plastic lids are often found in recycling bin. The correct way is to put the lid into the recycling bin and the cup itself into the compost bin.
  6. Only rigid plastics can be recycled. Soft plastics need to go into general waste bin unless they are biodegradable then you know what to do.
  7. Only glass jars and bottles can be recycled. Broken glassware, china, light globes, window etc. should go into general waste bin.
  8. Shredded paper should be put into a sealed paper box before placing into the recycling bin.
  9. Keep the lids on plastic bottles otherwise they will end up in landfill as they are too small to be sorted.
  10. Foam can only be recycled at certain facilities. If in doubt, please contact your local council.

When disposing any rubbish, please ask yourself in the order of:

  1. Can this be composted?
  2. Can this be recycled?
  3. Can this go into the general waste bin?

If you answered no to all the above e.g. e-waste will fall into this category, then there must be an alternative way to dispose it correctly. If in doubt, please contact your local council. Every bit helps to protect the environment we all love. Thank you!

What happened to your old buddy?


Remember the first mobile phone you had? I remember clearly that it was a second-hand yellow Sony Ericsson and the trend at the time was “who’s got the smallest phone”. How things have changed. I often wonder what happened to my old phone. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what I did with it. Was I conscious enough to have recycled it? Was the recycling program even in place back then? I have no clue.

Today, people change phones more often than ever, and often the reason is less obvious than replacing a broken phone. Phones become toys, and this reminds me of the movie Toy Story. Do we care what happens to our old phones?

I actually do know what happened, apart from the very first one. My second and third ones were passed on to my mother, and I still have my fourth one as a backup phone. But I regret not educating my mother about mobile phone recycling programs.

There are now several recycling businesses operating in Australia, and I have seen many drop off spots. This is really encouraging.

“Recent international market research conducted by Nokia of 6,500 people from 13 countries across the globe – excluding Australia – found that 3% of people recycle their mobile phones. Australian online market research conducted by IPSOS on behalf of AMTA in February 2008 of 650 mobile phone users in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth found that 6% of people recycled their previous mobile phone, twice the level internationally.” – AMTA Australia

Should we be happy with 6%? I don’t think I’m happy about that figure. So from now on, I will recycle all my unused phones, and strongly encourage my parents and friends to do the same. The more people know about it, the more people will do about it.