Queenie Colquhoun visits a recycled wood warehouse in the Inner West, and is a convert.
After taking six months off work, carpenter Joe Antonio found himself collecting abandoned wood out of skip bins without realising it.
As the collection grew, he leased storage containers, workshops, and warehouse spaces to house this reusable yet forgotten wood. From December 2018 he operated what was formally known as Recycled Timber Summer Hill, where people could come to buy recycled wood and low costs or drop off materials to avoid them being sent to landfill.
Moving to Marrickville and then to Annandale in June 2021 to open what is now known as Wastewood, he has created an affordable and accessible space to give these materials another chance at life.
Joe says: “The point is to just make enough money to survive.” To do so, Wastewood offers affordable one on one sessions, low-cost materials, and access to work benches and machines to work on projects. You can work on your own project or have them create something for you.
Construction accounts for 16.8% of Australia’s waste. Joe says: “It’s important to me because we’re realising that, and it’ll be greater and greater, that if we keep throwing away the stuff that we need we won’t have enough of what we need.”
What was supposed to be a quick 20-minute interview ended up becoming three hours of Joe teaching me to make a side table for my living room. I’m so glad it did because, really, I get it now.
There’s something meditative about the space and making something with the materials on hand. Everything around you has the potential to become something new, something great. And there is something so special about making an item yourself. There’s a certain type of love and pride that it creates.
When I started this interview, Joe was adamant that he, and even Wastewood, shouldn’t be the centre piece of this story. Rather, that it should be a recognition of the wood itself. The versatility of it, its ability to foster creativity and connection and the fact that it represents so much potential.
Wastewood is located in a huge warehouse in Annandale, which is full to the brim with rescued wood. Behind every utensil, every material there is a story of where it was found or where it came from. To me, that makes it more unique.
You can find Wastewood at 69 Whites Creek Ln, Annandale NSW 2038 or at wastewood.com.au