Our Business


Sustainable Business Practice

The Bower strives to be a model green business in all areas, from waste management to electrical consumption and personal practice. Our efforts have been acknowledged by receipt of a number of awards:

2016: Premier’s Award for Environmental Excellence at NSW Green Globe Awards
2016: Community Leadership Award at NSW Green Globe awards

2016: Sustainability Leadership Award at Inner West Business Environment Awards

We practise what we preach to show you just how simple it can be to minimise your eco-footprint at home. Much of our sustainable practice is about making simple choices – to walk or ride where possible, to worm farm our organic waste and to reuse materials. Many of the things we do are things that you can do at home without making big changes to your lifestyle.

Our building is a show piece of re-use and you can read more about that on the Our Building web page.


  • Most staff live locally and walk or cycle to work.
  • We have bike racks to encourage others to do the same.
  • Public transport access (nearby bus stop 428) is promoted at all opportunities.
  • Collections and deliveries are organised by geographic zones to minimise excessive driving.
  • In 2007 The Bower received an NRMA grant to complete a biodiesel experiment. The truck was converted to run on biodiesel with the cost, consumption and maintenance tracked over the course of 07/08.
  • Today the new truck  is larger and can achieve a greater volume of collections and deliveries with a minimal increase in petrol consumption.


  • Only scrap paper is used for note taking.
  • All envelopes used by the Bower are donated and/or reused.
  • Almost all stationery goods are reused (donated, not purchased new) including staplers, staples, stickylabels, sticky tape, rubber bands, pens, hole punches, calculators, etc.
  • 100% post-consumer recycled paper is used for printing and photocopying.
  • Most office equipment has been salvaged or purchased secondhand, including computers and printers.
  • All office furniture is second hand – desks, chairs, tables, fans, heaters, shelving, bookcases, etc.
  • We use self-refills or remanufactured toner cartridges for our printers.
  • All cabling for computer networks and telephone systems are donations in active reuse.
  • All electric appliances are turned off at night to reduce ‘phantom energy loads’ from standby functions.
  • Computers and printers are set to energy saver mode settings to ‘sleep’ when not in use.

Staff Area

  • All furnishing in our staff kitchen is second hand – the sink, fridge, cups, microwave, toaster, cutlery,whiteboard, table, etc.
  • We buy biodegradable dishwashing liquid.
  • We encourage reusable lunch containers over disposable wraps and bags.
  • We collect organic waste including teabags, fruit and vegetables etc for our worm farm (which, contrary to popular thought is neither gross nor smelly).
  • A large capacity rainwater tank harvests rain from the Bower roof for dish washing and cleaning.
  • Mains water is reserved only for drinking.
  • All electric appliances are turned off at night to reduce ‘phantom energy loads’ from standby functions.


  • We have two workshops – an electrical workshop and a timber repair workshop, dedicated to supporting reuse culture in store and in the community.
  • All hand tools and most power tools in the workshops have been rescued from other people’s discards.
  • Timber repairs are conducted with donated/salvaged hardware where possible.
  • The timber workshop makes significant use of skylights.
  • The timber workshop is made entirely of secondhand materials, the only exception being the new concrete floor.
  • All electric appliances are turned off at night to reduce ‘phantom energy loads’ from standby functions.


  • We water our gardens with buckets and only when necessary to minimise excess run off.
  • We mulch our garden to maximise water retention.
  • Native species feature in our front and rear gardens to minimise the need for extensive watering.


  • We divert, very conservatively, 200 tonnes of ‘waste’ per annum from the landfill through our normal operations.
  • We compost garden trimmings.
  • We recycle glass, plastic, aluminium and tin through the council collection system.
  • We use a commercial paper and cardboard recycling service.
  • We do drop-offs to scrap metal merchants of unsold metal goods.
  • We operate a Reuse Referral Service database of close to 1000 secondhand businesses in Sydney.

Energy Consumption

  • Strawbale is a natural insulator.
  • Passive solar design minimises need for artificial lighting and air conditioning.
  • Extensive skylights and windows are used to minimise the need for electrical lighting.
  • Solar array generates all the building’s energy needs while excess power is fed back into the Addison Road Community Centre to benefit all. This solar array was generously donated by Green force in 2012.
  • All electric appliances are turned off at night to reduce ‘phantom energy loads’ from stand by functions.

Community Support

The Bower is based within The Addison Road Centre – Australia’s largest community centre – in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Marrickville. Being a cooperative and in a location with many like-minded organisations, we work together with our neighbours where possible. Below is an example of how The Bower and the Addison Road Centre (ARCCO) have worked together in 2015:

The Bower’s contribution to ARCCO’s work:

  • Supplied 50 chairs at no cost to furnish Gumbramorra Hall
  • Provided heavily reduced-price furniture enabling ARCCO to furnish their entire office at a minimal cost
  • Men’s Shed project undertaken over one year – one day per week – to convert hut 41 into studios free of charge
  • Building of recycled horse sculpture art piece as contribution to the success of ARCCO’s ANZAC event at no cost
  • Provided furniture to seat all visitors in the Gumbramorra Hall during ANZAC event at no cost

ARCCO’s contribution to The Bower’s work:

  • The use of the Gumbramorra Hall for team building exercise free of charge
  • Permission to hold an auction on the road at no cost
  • Weekly use of the ARCCO’s meeting room and Kitchen for the Men’s Shed free of charge
  • Use of borrowed ARCCCO equipment free of charge
  • Use of ARCCOs drive way to run a bike swap shop at no cost