One man's trash is another man's treasure, and today it seems it can also mean gainful employment outside of garbage collection.
The award-winning National Circular Economy demonstration center uses the former Ballymun Project as a space to develop social enterprises. The center offers how-to classes and workshops in upcycled furniture, making your own cosmetics and cleaning projects, and more. Creating employment and reducing waste has always been of paramount importance since the Rediscovery Centre started.
Sarah Miller, CEO of Ireland's Rediscovery Centre told the IPBN during the St. Patrick's Day Sustainability Conference that “We were trying to help people… showcase their environmental innovations…and to break generational unemployment.” To that end, the Regeneration project began to simultaneously address waste disposal issues and to give people jobs. Miller says, “There is so much opportunity presented by the circular economy."
The topic is discussed at the 15-minute mark in the above video.
To that end, the Rediscovery Centre has created a series of workshops, mentoring programs, and training for future employment in the fields of paint, furniture, fashion, and bicycle reuse and repair through The Circular Economy Academy whose goal is “to facilitate Ireland’s transition to the circular economy through demonstration, education, and collaboration," according to the academy's website. The Circular Academy is also tasked with teaching others including startups and circular businesses to use its model to help them develop their concept, find funding, and more. All products are sold in the Rediscovery Centre’s Eco Store and all profits from these sales are reinvested back into the social enterprise from whence they came.
"Over 90% of people that we work with and have been working with since 2006 go on to full-time education or straight into work.
Rediscover Furniture has been creating training opportunities for the long-term unemployed (and the interested public) to bring new life to old furniture— saving it from the landfill since 2006. Only traditional methods and environmentally friendly products are used in the process of reclaiming throwaways into beautiful pieces for the home. From reupholstery to decopage, the skillset here is vast, which leads most trainees to stay a bit longer in this program, according to Miller.
Building on the success of the furniture initiative, the Rediscovery center created Rediscover Fashion which has become Ireland’s leader in circular fashion, established in 2008 as a social enterprise to produce 100% redesigned and repurposed, clothing, accessories, and homeware ranges while providing training, lectures, and innovative product development using circular design principles. Seeing as how an estimated 93% of all textile waste in Ireland is sent to landfill, this program aims to counteract this grim reality by teaching members of the public repair and reuse skills through interactive workshops, demonstrations and talks.
Likewise, Miller and her team went on to create the Rediscover Paint program collects paint from recycling centers uses it to create new non-hazardous, water-based paint colors that run the spectrum for €1.50 per liter— they can even be bespoke at €2 per Litre at a minimum order of 5.6 liters.
Rediscover Cycling has been dedicated to building and reconditioning bicycles whilst providing training and employment opportunities since 2010. Bikes donated for reuse are collected from the recycling centers and revamped. Furthermore, the bike team has expanded its business to include providing on-site bike clinics to corporate and other organizations to promote sustainable transport.
In terms of how far this trend will stretch, Miller said, "People are really trying to regenerate their communities...There's a lot of great talent and a lot of strong minds pulling together...in the circular economy and climate action work."