8 Ideas worth spreading

In my previous posts in Planet Australia I’ve already waxed euphoric about some ingenious concepts I discovered in Oz  like community gardens and op shops. Today I’ll add eight other awesome ideas to the list. And while I cannot claim they are original Aussie concepts that were invented Down Under, I first came across them in Western Australia and can testify that they work amazingly well and deserve to be propagated worldwide. So, without further ado, let’s begin the countdown.

Outdoor cinemas with a difference

I assume you’ve all been to the cinema on numerous occasions, but have you ever watched a film on the big screen under the stars? Telethon Community Cinemas offer the incredible experience of enjoying a movie outdoors while wedged comfortably in a bean bag, snug as a bug in a rug under your favourite blanket and with your own picnic basket on the side. Yes, this cinema allows you to bring your own food and your own camper chairs, picnic blankets or whatever else you need to enjoy your cinema experience.

But that’s not all! This cinema is different for one more reason. It is run entirely by volunteers and all the profits from the ticket sales go back to the community. To date, Telethon cinemas claim to have raised a whopping 12 mln dollars for Telethon 7 and other kids charities in Western Australia. Now, that’s a win win.

Getting entertained and helping a charity raise money is a true win-win

Share Shed

Let’s imagine you need to drill a hole for  that brand new painting or use a wheelbarrow to move some soil. Now, it’s hard to justify buying a new tool if you need it just for a two-minute job. And even buying a second-hand one would cost you a pretty penny. But what if instead of rushing to the shop every time you needed a tool or a device, you could just borrow one?  And what if you could finally put all the contraptions sitting idly in your shed or cupboard to a good use and lend them to your neighbours? Share Shed allows you to do just that. Quoting directly from the Share Shed website:

Share Shed is a “library of things” – a place where locals can borrow a range of extremely useful but only occasionally used items for free. It’s also a group of neighbours willing to share their stuff to prevent waste and build community. We aim to encourage a robust local share economy, helping to reduce our impact on the planet from excessive consumption and waste, while saving our community money, time & space.

Isn’t it a fantastic idea to put an end to our uncontrolled consumerism and the desire to forever buy new stuff we rarely even use? I certainly think so. Check out the items on offer at this one-of-a-kind library and be astonished. There’s camping gear and gardening tools, party decorations, kitchenware and even some crutches!
Do you think there’s space for a Share Shed in your community?

Have a browse through the stock and be wowed

Repair cafe

In similar spirit to Share Shed, Repair Cafe aims at reducing waste by repairing faulty products,  from ripped clothes to wobbly table legs to  malfunctioning lawn mowers. It is run entirely by volunteers and no money changes hands as the service is free. Here is how Repair Cafe sums up its mission.

At Repair Café Bassendean, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, toys, and much more. You’ll also find experienced volunteers with repair skills in all kinds of fields. Post-consumer waste has become a huge problem in modern society, and this partly stems from a culture of discarding broken or unused items, including clothing and electronics. We’re here to help those in our community who want to save their items from landfill and bring back a culture of repairing.

So next time you’re thinking about chucking that non-cooperative vacuum cleaner in the bin, see if there’s a repair cafe in your area first.

There’s a wide range of tools on offer to help you salvage just about anything

Street book library

I have to admit I am an ardent fan of Australian libraries for reasons I’ve already elaborated on in my previous post. While I appreciate the convenience of e-readers, I see them as yet another screen to look at. For this reason I still have a preference for paper books and this next idea is right up my alley.

Street Libraries are beautiful homes for books, planted in your front yard. They invite your neighbours to share the joys of reading and create lasting connections inside your communities. Anyone can become an owner of a street library, and everyone is certainly welcome to contribute books and help themselves to whatever is on offer.  If you need ideas on how to build one from scratch, this website can help you: https://streetlibrary.org.au/build/

Imagine going for a jog just round the block and coming home with a new read. That’s often the motivation I need 😉


Water fountains

We all agree keeping hydrated is super important and water is the best drink to have throughout the day. However, we  tend to reach for bottled water too often, which can be less healthy than tap water, and we all know the pesky problem of plastic pollution. An ideal solution is to carry a reusable bottle with you and refill it as you go. Where do you refill it, you ask?  In Australia water fountains are a common sight in many places- an idea so simple and so clever. The design of the water fountain allows you to drink directly from it by directing the water stream upwards or to fill up your bottle by simply turning on the tap. It’s cold, fresh tap water that’s tested regularly and it’s free! Every school has numerous water fountains, most parks and playgrounds do. You’ll find them near beaches and in the city centre.  It’s definitely another win for the environment and for the pocket.


The fountains cater for two and four-legged creatures

Plants for residents

When it comes to green areas in the city, many of us will lament the fact that there aren’t enough of them around but will do little to change the situation. But what if we all took matters into our own hands and each played a part in greening up our neighbourhoods? Plants for residents is an initiative aimed at empowering communities to take an active part in creating green places in their neighbourhoods. The programme aims to promote the re-vegetation of residential and rural properties with local native trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Planting not only improves landscape quality but also provides an array of environmental benefits such as shade, carbon sequestration and shelter for birds, reptiles and small mammals. Astonishingly, the 2023 programme saw 50 different varieties of local native species being planted, totaling over 13,000 seedlings given to residents. And that was only in one shire. Imagine if we all planted a tree or two?

Banksia, eucalyptus and bottle brush- just some of the many native plant species offered as part of the ‘Plants to Residents’ initiative.

Bike repair station

As the number of dedicated hard-core and weekend bike riders increases, there is a growing need for a place where temporary maintenance, repairs or adjustments can be carried out on bikes. Bike repair stations are little pit stops for two-wheelers, offering a variety of tools for any malfunction you might want to deal with- from a flat tyre to a loose screw to a slack chain. They are free of charge, of course and scattered around the city so you’re never too far away from one. There are no excuses now not to hop on your treadly and ride away.


One of the many bike stations scattered around Perth

Story station

Now, here’s a real treat for those who enjoy a literature snack on the go. An actual machine that dispenses stories at the touch of a button all free of charge!  Book worms can choose between one, two and five minute reads, which the station will randomly pick from a database of over 100,0000 stories and print out for you on eco-friendly. Whilst selection is random, the genres range from crime to romance and children’s fiction, and feature works from local WA writers to Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens! But story stations are not only great from the readers’ perspective. Aspiring authors also get a chance to showcase their talent and gain more publicity by having their work promoted in this way. As Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” And with a story station nearby, magic is never too far away.

Literature on the go in snack-size bites

So here you are. Eight innovative ideas that make the world a better place. Which of them did you like the most? Which of the eight would you most like to see implemented in your neighbourhood? Or perhaps there are other great ideas in place where you live that you would like to share with others. Let us know in the comments.

Till next time,


The image “Wheelbarrow Friends” courtesy of La La Land and the artist: Lilly Perrott.

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