24 March 2020

The Green Shed's Tiny and Elaine are signing off with a milestone donation

| Michael Weaver
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The Green Shed

Charlie and Sandie Bigg-Wither and Elaine and Tiny Srejic marking the $1 million in donations to Canberra charities and organisations. Photo: Michael Weaver, Region Media.

Of the nearly 69 million items sold by The Green Shed since the iconic Canberra business first opened its doors in 2010, co-founder Elaine Srejic reckons Lego has generated the most revenue of all the rare gems that have come through their doors.

That’s quite an achievement for the little Danish bricks considering The Green Shed’s sold more than 67,000 bicycles in that time.

The Shed’s also saved more than 65,000 tonnes of goods from going to landfill. And they’ve given away almost 3.4 million items of clothing. But the milestone they celebrated last week was making more than $1 million in donations.

The next milestone will be when co-founders Elaine and Tiny Srejic hand over the reins to Charlie and Sandie Bigg-Wither. Last Thursday (5 March) they all sat proudly atop a cake to mark the achievement at the Civic store.

The Green Shed

The Green Shed’s cake featuring Charlie, Sandie, Elaine and Tiny. Photo: Green Shed Facebook.

The Green Shed runs a charity day on the last Wednesday of each month at both its Mugga and Mitchell sheds until $10,000 is raised for a local organisation.

The presentation of a cheque for $10,000 to Nils Lantzke of Alpaca Therapy, which provides animal assisted therapy to patients, staff, friends and family at hospitals and aged care facilities throughout the region, saw The Green Shed reach the seven-figure milestone.

Unfortunately, it was too wet for the alpacas to be there for the cheque presentation; however, some eager magpies waited in line for a slice of the cake in the spirit of The Green Shed, which always pays it forward.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr was invited to help celebrate the cake-cutting and said it was important to recognise the long list of organisations that have benefitted from the Green Shed’s generosity over the years.

“The Green Shed has always been ahead of its time in terms of the circular economy and I think as we politicians head off to COAG (Council of Australian Government) meetings, one of the agenda items will be how we better manage waste in Australia,” Mr Barr told Region Media.

Elaine wouldn’t disagree.

“We have worked to build an iconic local business, one that is self-sustaining and provides huge community supports wherever opportunity affords us,” Elaine said.

“To add to this, we seek to adopt a circular economy perspective to help lessen waste heading to landfill.”

Elaine said The Green Shed employs more than 75 people in the ACT region (including 12 with an intellectual disability) and has been recognised for promoting inclusion in the workplace.

Husband and numbers man Goran ‘Tiny’ Srejic said the Green Shed operates at almost zero cost to the taxpayer, yet recovers approximately 8,000 tonnes of reuseable goods each year.

He conservatively estimates they offset more than half of the total ACT emissions from waste each year.

“We have given the equivalent of 10 pieces of clothing to every person in Canberra. We recycle 180,000 items a week and we’re now up to almost 70 million items since we started.”

Tiny said 95 per cent of clothing donated to The Green Shed is given away for free to the public, to assist housing groups, domestic violence support teams, church organisations and refugee advocates, while a lot of furniture and supplies are provided at no cost when they settle into a new home.

“Along with the million dollars, we’ve also donated a couple of million dollars worth of items as well. We don’t like to say it too much, but we just think it’s important to be able to do this for the community,” Tiny said.

The Green Shed

The cheque to Nils Lantzke of Alpaca Therapy marked the million-dollar milestone. Photo: Michael Weaver, Region Media.

But wait, there’s more … The Green Shed has more than 40,000 followers on its Facebook page, which is more than one-tenth of the Canberra population. They also welcome 20,000 visitors each week across their four outlets.

“We have been running The Green Shed since January 2010 and are very proud of our achievements to date,” Elaine said.

“We no longer deal with board members and directors and managers, it’s just us, so if we think of an idea, we can just say, ‘yes, let’s do that silly thing’ and we can do it.”

But in about five weeks, Elaine and Tiny will be taking on their next adventure, opening a maze and amusement park in their home country of Serbia which they have been building for the past seven years.

Sandie said they are constantly amazed by the wonderful things people bring in to The Green Shed.

“The reason we can do all these things for communities is that people bring us so much stuff, so it enables us to be generous, and the more generous we are, the more stuff we get.”

The Canberra community can definitely count on another million dollars to come.

To learn more, visit The Green Shed.

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