It is with pleasure to interview eco-entrepreneur Megan Bayliss, the brains behind social enterprise The Junk Wave. Megan, a recycled craft guru, is a true inspiration, she offers professional recycled craft workshops, which have extended across Australia, and will soon be making their way to international shores.
Q. Can you tell us about what you do, and the ideas behind The Junk Wave?
Sure. In a nut shell, I train people to do craft with recycled material: material from their home that might otherwise get thrown into landfill. Post-consumer waste is such a valuable resource; it seems a shame to throw it when people could be using it in creative ways.
The Junk Wave was born to collet post-consumer junk from people, to cleanse and process it into craft ready material and to train early childhood educators, youth workers, teachers, etc how to use it as a resource in their programming. But, it became popular with Mums, kids and Grandma’s too so the trainings became workshops open to anyone interested in learning how to make things out of their post-consumer junk.
My workshops include an hour of theory on sustainability, gyres and plastic. They are also RPL compliant (see this document for a list of courses) and interested participants take away evidence required for their training organisations.
The Junk Wave is far from a traditional business model. It is a sustainable social enterprise that measures its worth against a triple bottom line:
Each of these things are equally important to me. My accountant husband says that finances are the bottom line and cash is king. Bah humbug….I think of my profit, my social capital, being measured against what I do for the environment, what I do for people AND what I have in my bank.
A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals: a business that trades for a specific social, environmental or cultural purpose. The Junk Wave’s purpose is to keep junk out of landfill and oceans so that we can have a cleaner environment for our children. We do that by crafting junk and getting people to think of their waste as a resource rather than trash.
Q. Why is recycling important to you?
Our waste is killing our oceans. I was born and grew up in Papua New Guinea. When I was 13 my family moved back to Australia and settled in Cooktown. I was a coastal child. I spent much time building leisure activities and social participation around the beach and the ocean. I now live in Cairns, right on the Great Barrier Reef and the coast is my life.
As I grew-up, I saw the growing influence of junk on beaches and ocean life. It concerned me because I instinctively knew that rubbish in the ocean would change our way of life. Now after much learning I fully appreciate the science behind recycling, particularly plastics, and that post-consumer rubbish in landfill and ocean are poisoning our children’s future.
When my first grandchild was born I wanted to ensure that she grew in a world where she could experience an ocean life that includes living fish, birds, dolphins and seahorse rather than dead sea-birds full of plastics or pictures in books of animals that existed in my time.
Q. Where do you look for your creative inspiration?
I have an active and creative mind. Often a piece of junk will remind me of something so I go ahead and craft it. I also constantly think of how a new item can be alternatively made from junk: similar to those magazine spreads that suggest a budget wardrobe that achieves a designer look. I LOVE sites like pinterest and Recycled Market for idea stimulation and I work with an amazing young woman, Jess, who thinks of things that I don’t. Collective thinking and diversity breeds innovation and that is my biggest inspiration.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone that might be interested in becoming more sustainable?
For those who haven’t yet ventured into a sustainable way of life, use everything at least twice (yes, that includes your plastic milk bottles and food packaging). For those who are already comfortable with ideas of sustainability, put a REFUSE before the other four R’s: Refuse, reuse, remake, reduce, recycle last. Learn a definition of sustainability that becomes a life creed: Is it good for the environment, for people and for finances.
Q. What is on the horizon for The Junk Wave?
The sale of The Junk Wave hobby/business chapters throughout Australia, and then internationally in 2014. I am travelling my workshops more: from one end of Australia to the other. My travel is not sustainable and adds emissions to an already over stressed environment. Rather than do this, I am selling The Junk Wave hobby business chapters to interested and motivated parties all around Australia (only one person per geographic area) so that they can capitalise on training requests and referrals in their area. The chapter owners keep 100% of the income generated by them and through my referral to them. They can run their business however they want (I workshop; someone else may want to do markets, school talks, sell directly to early childhood centers, etc) but they get training and support from me, their own The Junk Wave website built on my platform which gives them instant seo, rankings and indexing and they capitalise on the data base and social media relationships I have built up….all without any of us adding travel emissions to the environment.
Q. When and where is your next Junk Wave workshop?
Bags, beads and bowls
Sydney March 3rd
Melbourne March 11th
Adelaide (dates are being discussed)
Thank you Megan, we can’t wait to meet you in person!