RGQ is a not-for-profit reuse centre that has been a hub for Brisbane creatives for almost two decades. On any given weekday or Saturday you'll find passionate upcyclers in the warehouse hunting through a myriad of offcuts, discards and samples, all of which have been diverted from landfill.
The warehouse is open to the public six days a week and offers sustainable, low-cost alternatives to mainstream art and craft supplies. The materials are constantly changing, but you'll find things like dress-making and upholstery samples, offcuts of cork, wood, foam and rubber, hessian coffee sacks, leather scraps, and picture framing materials. The majority are industrial discards which RGQ collects each week from hundreds of local businesses such as woodyards, interior designers and sailcloth manufacturers.
The co-op's mission is to exhaust the complete potential of an item before it is condemned to landfill. So many resources (energy, water, and fossil fuels) are used in the manufacture of goods and RGQ focuses on minimising the amount of useful remnants and offcuts that normally get wasted. It's then up to members of the public to think of ways to 're-use' and upcycle these materials.
Some of the groups who are regulars to the warehouse are educators, designers, students and community organisations. RGQ Communications Coordinator Anne Giacomantonio said "we always love to see how the salvaged materials go on to have a second life. It's inspiring to see how they are used in children's art workshops, theatre sets, shop displays and community events."
If you need a bit of help working out exactly what you need, just ask the friendly staff, they will be happy to assist you. RGQ also regularly hosts upcycling demos and eco-arts workshops. You can learn a range of traditional and non-traditional techniques, including weaving, rag rug making, paper craft and jewellery making. For kids, there is a great school holiday program and RGQ is also available to run creative re-use workshops in schools, centres and workplaces year round.
If you plan to visit, be sure to check out the one-of-a-kind Reverse Emporium. The gift shop features handmade up-cycled items made by local and passionate Brisbane creatives and it's a treasure trove of inspiration and ethical gift buying solutions. You will find immaculately finished satchel bags made from rubber inner tubes, handcrafted jewellery made with watch cogs and gorgeous soft toys sewn from fabric off-cuts.
RGQ also hosts an annual exhibition; this year's event is entitled Elemental Brisbane and will showcase a handpicked selection of works that demonstrate creative reuse and upcycling techniques. Opening night will be on 15th October 2016, followed by a week of workshops and finishing with a kids' event on 22nd October 2016. Don't miss it.
For those who can't make it to the Woolloongabba warehouse, RGQ offers a mail order service which is also popular with educators who are looking to purchase packs of bulk art supplies.
And if you think you have waste that's too good to waste, members of the public as well as industry can get involved by donating their discards to RGQ. Simply head to the website to check out the RGQ discards guidelines.
For more information on RGQ and their services, please visit the official website.