One Man’s Trash…Anothers Treasure?


They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure but a closer look at one organization putting this into practice reveals some local heroes who aren’t thinking of themselves as they sort our community’s myriad unwanted goods.

The Young Adults Disabled Association (YADA) Inc. is a primarily self-sufficient, not-for-profit organisation that not only enhances the lives of over 200 local young adults and their carers through the programs and respite it provides, but also benefits the environment and local business community through some impressive recycling programs.

YADA’s social impact

For close to three decades now, YADA has provided an opportunity for adults living with a disability to meet socially and participate in a range of educational and recreational activities. Despite the name, some of the participants have been attending for 20+ years.

Funded almost entirely through the sale of recycled goods, YADA’s social programs are designed to engage, employ, and enhance the lives of participants, while also providing much needed respite for parents and carers. In addition to classes at the centre, YADA takes members on monthly daytrips and other outings throughout the year and until recently has even managed to organise a holiday every two years or so. These holidays have included trips to Bali, Fiji, New Zealand, USA (Disneyland), a trip to Tassie and a trip around Australia, and cruises to Vila, Vanuatu and Cairns – though this program is on hold due to budget restraints.

YADA’s driving force

It is apparent that one man has been particularly instrumental in making YADA what it is today. Enter John Eastwood, treasurer and ‘organiser’, who is both figuratively and literally a driving force at YADA.

A former bouncer but a ‘gentle giant’, John was working as a bus driver 28 years ago when he met YADA founder and president Jennifer McAlees. Jennifer was living with disabilities herself and had just established a new social group for other young adults living with disabilities and experiencing social isolation. John was their bus driver. John came on board YADA and in the years to follow was instrumental in setting up the recycling programs, including the opening of 3 op shops and 3 trucks on the road each day picking up recyclable goods and waste, as well as the many and varied social programs. All the more impressive when you learn that John never learnt to read or write.

A win-win-win situation

John explains the benefits of YADA’s recycling as “. . . win-win-win, because we re-use and recycle everything that comes to us, we don’t charge businesses any tipping fees, and the processing of materials allows us do what we do best (funding 95% of operations).”

Every year, YADA diverts 500 tonnes of waste otherwise destined for landfill, including old televisions and other examples of e-waste which are carefully disassembled.

And yet, despite the organisations successful 3BL approach, balancing the books is a continual challenge. If sheer determination and goodwill was enough to keep the organisation going, YADA would be flush indeed but rising rents and fuel costs, for example, hurt the budget and sometimes threaten closure of aspects of the initiative.

A valuable resource for local business owners

These are just a few ways local businesses can benefit from YADAs recycling programs, while supporting YADA and ‘giving back’ to the community:

1. Save on waste haulage fees

Most businesses have to deal with waste of one sort or another, with some substantial costs involved for haulage and disposal. YADA doesn’t charge anything to take your recyclable waste.

2. Save on storage costs

If your business sometimes has to store stock it can’t shift, you might have noticed that the cost of storage can be greater than the value of the stock. Donating that stock to an organisation such as YADA not only costs you nothing, it saves you money, and the stock gains a social value.

3. Minimise your environmental footprint

Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability with a lifecycle assessment of your products, assets and consumables, and ensure that you’re not contributing unnecessarily to landfill when goods or waste can still be put to good use. ph 9602 7808