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Have yourself a very recyclable Christmas

It’s been another busy year for Ā Mua Community Resource Centre in Featherston, providing opportunities for the Wairarapa community to divert its reusable waste from landfill and give it the chance of a new life.

And in the final week before the big day, shoppers can still expect plenty of sustainable Christmas cheer – and bargains –from the facility,

To celebrate the festive season, volunteer Katie Abbott has created a ‘grotty grotto’, showcasing pre-loved and second-hand Yuletide items.

“I was inspired to do a grotto because we had a lot of Christmas decorations we keep to put out every year.”

Originally intended to be housed in a tent Ā Mua had in stock, “Featherston’s micro-climate had other ideas”, and it is instead housed in a shipping container.

Abbott’s aesthetic was “shabby chic”, using curtains for the backdrop, some recycled windows, a natural Christmas tree and plenty of baubles.

“I think people have been enjoying it”, she said, “so hopefully it will be a fixture every year. “

It’s been a “steady” and largely successful year for Ā Mua, Guy Walker, who founded the facility about three years ago, said.

“We’ve been growing as well. We are getting people from all over the place coming to us now. A lot of regulars, and a lot of local regulars, and people who come from further afield. There’s plenty of stuff coming and going. So, overall, it’s been great.”

The community appears to appreciate the facility, Walker said, and the feedback he receives is encouraging.

“People unanimously bemoan how much waste there is in our country and the world in general, and the fact we are encouraging people to reuse some of it is a good thing. It’s been extremely positive.”

The last 12 months have not been without hiccups, however.

Ā Mua has been targeted by thieves recently who have stolen items and damaged the property.

The most recent event involved the theft of a canopy, purchased by Ā Mua’s parent body, Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust, worth several thousand dollars and intended for use on the site.

Walker said the Trust, volunteers and Ā Mua’s regulars were “gutted and disappointed” by the spate of burglaries.

“It’s a waste of funds and our time”, he said. “If people are desperate and can’t pay for it, they should just come down and speak to us really, and we can work something out.”

Walker and his team have also dealt with some “quite egregious” dumping outside the centre, which is a drag on time, energy and resources, he said.

“We have to deal with it, and pay for it. We have to pay for the skip to send the rubbish to the tip. It’s our time, and we are volunteers here.”

There are about 15 volunteers on Ā Mua’s books, but Walker is always ready to welcome more.

No specific skills are necessary, just a willingness to “muck in”, though people with mechanical skills would be useful, Walker said.

“We have a tool library here that we do find it a bit hard to keep up with the maintenance for, so somebody with experience in machinery would be great.”

People who would like to help but not formally volunteer are welcome to join the centre’s occasional working bees.

“We can put you on the list to come down when we have cleanups, just to spread the workload a wee bit,” Walker said.

Ā Mua is open 10am to 12pm Wednesday December 20 and Saturday December 23, and there is a considerable range of pre-loved bargains to be had.

“You never know what you are going to find down here”, Walker said. “You go to your regular shops and you’ve got a fair idea of what you’re going to come across, but somewhere like this, it’s just completely random.”

People are welcome to drop off items for reuse and recycling, Walker said, but don’t assume Ā Mua can take them.

“The key thing is to ask”, Walker said. “When you come down, or before you come down, ask us, ‘Do you want this?’ or send us pictures. Don’t just drop and run.”

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