Hundreds of volunteers helped us to clean out our warehouse and wash up storm damaged stock and equipment to save it from landfill. Read more about their legendary efforts here…
Since Biome’s online fulfilment centre went under water in the early hours of Sunday, 27 February, the Biome team has received phenomenal generosity of time and goodwill from our customers, suppliers, neighbours, friends and family.
As happened for thousands of homes and businesses in SE Queensland and NSW, we had little notice of the inundation. We worked until 3am when we had to leave for safety. We lost about 70% of our inventory and equipment under water. After a stocktake of what remained dry, we know we lost around 40,000 individual stock items. Plus, shelving, desks, trolleys, and machines were covered in contaminated water, some beyond saving.
Biome is a business for purpose—our vision since we began 18 years ago has been to help preserve a safe and healthy environment for all, and a significant part of our work is to reduce plastic waste and pollution.
The process of getting all the damaged stock out of our warehouse took five days and it was stressful trying to work out how we could recover resources and salvage as much as we could. As anyone who has been through this knows, it is a tough mental and emotional journey, and the decisions unfold as you gather reserves to cope. We understand why so much is thrown out because it’s overwhelming to deal with the alternative, it needs to happen quickly before the germs and stench take over, and there is only so much you can ask of those volunteering. Looking back, there are other things that ‘could have been salvaged’…but in reality, this was a natural disaster and we did the best we felt at the time.
Our Suds Army
We hit a point where I was overcome by the enormity of what it would take to ‘wash up’ thousands of dirty, but still usable items, while also trying to get our business back on track enough that we didn’t collapse. That’s when we put a call out for help. Our wonderful, eco-conscious community responded, and hundreds of people turned up on Saturday and Sunday with buckets, sponges, tables, marquees, and most importantly, smiles, hugs, food, and enthusiasm. It bowled us over!!
We are immensely proud of how much was recovered with the help of so many kind people.
- We saved metal shelving, our conveyor, trolleys, and washable equipment, thanks to those who water blasted, hand washed with detergent, and then rinsed and dried. Rust is a big problem after contaminated waters have been through, so we are grateful for the care that our “shelfies” put into the cleaning job!
- We washed thousands of water bottles, lunch boxes, stainless steel pegs, metal straws, glass bottles, reusable cups, containers, and more.
- Thanks to Cate of Queen B who reminded us that beeswax is waterproof, we saved beautiful beeswax candles that smell as divine as they always do.
- Volunteers took home linen, towels, socks, and shopping bags, to wash and dry in the sun.
- Wood grows mould quickly, so we donated products such as camphor laurel cutting boards to The Indooroopilly Men’s Shed, who aim to refurbish them.
- We saved metal, recyclable glass and plastics for Council recycling.
We’ll soon organise a ‘salvage sale’ to give the washed up items a new home.
This was no utopia. We still had two huge piles of rubbish that were taken away by the Council and Army clean up crews (my piles of “brokenness”). For example, with all our baby products we felt the risk made them not appropriate to wash and re-use. The building itself also had to be completely gutted up to about 1.8 metres of plasterboard, flooring, cabinetry and the kitchen and bathrooms.
For anyone who came along, we’d love to stay in touch. Please fill out the form below.
Wash Up Weekend Photos
All the Biome team loved meeting the awesome people who came to the Wash Up Weekend. So, we’ve made a google album to tell the story! Should you prefer to remove your photo, please email tracey (a) biome.com.au And, if you have any photos to add to the album – please email them to me.
The photos show:
- some of the mess we faced in the beginning
- donation of the plastic tubs from Awards and Trophies and MOCO Food Services, and others.
- lively washing up stations
- shelf cleaning action
- people bringing the volunteers food and drinks
- at the end of Sunday we had another heavy downpour and as the streets had not been cleared as yet, we saved a few more wheelie bin fulls of rubbish from the stormwater drains.
Please note that these photos can not be republished without written permission from Tracey Bailey. If you would like an original of your photo, please contact me. Photo credits: Kelley Sheenan, Louisa Genrich, Kamaia Thompson, Tracey Bailey.
Our volunteers have shared messages of support, and we’re touched by the sentiment that people were grateful to be asked to help. Here’s just a few:
It was humbling to be able to help Biome get back on its feet. Supporting the philosophy of minimising the amount of flood damaged goods going into land fill was important to us. We were inspired that, even in the face of such devastation and loss, Tracey and the Biome family still lived their philosophy. (Gayle & Paul)
Devastating to see how much it impacted Biome, but an amazing sense of community during cleanup! (Famin)
We were very grateful to be able to help, we love your company and all that it stands for and it was a highlight of our weekend to help in a very tiny way. (Emma & Julian)
I was so happy to be able to support a brand I really love and see Biome “walking the talk” on reducing waste. And Biome team were absolutely lovely, made me love Biome even more! (Anna)
Here’s a video of the washing up action and how much we saved from landfill!