Blue bins bear fruit
THEY may be on the verge of becoming obsolete, but Auckland city’s recycling bins are getting a new lease of life.
One Mt Albert family has found a multitude of uses for the bins, which will be replaced on Monday with larger wheelie bins.
Julie Craig was given a stack of recycling bins by her brother, who had been using them as props in a show, and decided to put them to good use.
“We used to live in Manurewa and when we moved, we took our entire garden with us in recycling bins. We planted some into the garden and kept some in the bins.”
Having a mobile garden allowed the Craigs to grow more tomatoes this year, because they could move the bins into sunny areas.
She even has her brother growing things in his leftover bins.
Mrs Craig’s husband Derek is the gardener at the Howick Historical Village and both have horticultural backgrounds.
They are part of the Heritage Seed Savers, an organisation that grows heritage plants and swaps seeds, so they have a seed bank between friends.
“We have a real interest in heritage foods and it’s cheaper to grow from seed. Starting kids off growing from seed is great. Each bin could be a child’s garden.”
At the moment, her bins contain beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silverbeet, rhubarb and carrots.
Even Mrs Craig’s grandmother has taken to making bin gardens.
“She has five bins upside down with another five with plants in them on top. She can’t kneel down in the garden any more, but with the bins she doesn’t have to bend over.”
The family also use the bins for storage, keeping things like preserving jars and children’s toys in them.
“Once they are cleaned, they are actually really functional,” says Mrs Craig.
Auckland city councillor Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says there have been a number of ideas mooted for the bins, including using them on boats and as compost containers.
“We’re looking at running a competition. It’s something interesting for people to put their minds to.”
The council has also been approached by people in other parts of the country wanting to use the surplus bins.
“There’s a lot of interest around them. We’re encouraging people to keep them and use them for another purpose.”
He says many people are taking a green approach to reusing them.
The fate of Mr Lotu-Iiga’s own recycling bin has yet to be decided.
“My wife is quite keen to use it in the garden,” he says.
New life: Julie Craig’s old recycling bins are now used as garden planters.