Photo supplied by Jerilderie Mens Shed

15 members of Jerilderie’s Mens Shed have had remarkable success – making tens of thousands of dollars over the past five years, which they’ve poured back into their local community.

Their efforts were officially recognised, with the men receiving a highly commended prize from the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW (KAB NSW) Sustainable Communities Tidy Towns Awards, a state-wide initiative by a not-for-profit group that recognises outstanding environmental achievements.

Mens Shed president Billy Ferris, 79, had the idea of making money for his town soon after the NSW Government introduced Return and Earn in 2017, whereby empty bottles and cans are returned for a 10-cent refund. Last year they collected over 100,000 containers earning them $10,000. The money they earn goes to sustaining the Mens Shed and is donated to local charities.

“We bought a ute for $4000 and a trailer for $1000. We have also given money for drought and flood relief through the CWA [Country Women’s Association] and for the Royal Children’s Hospital annual appeal,” Mr Ferris said.

KAB NSW program and partnerships manager Elliot Stephens visited Jerilderie in April to present the award.

“What I find unique about this project is that the Mens Shed has contributed the money they’ve raised back into the community, not to mention the sheer amount of bottles and cans they were able to collect. It’s the only award we gave to this region. The judges were impressed with the collaboration and the innovation,” he said.

Mr Ferris, who had a long career with Jerilderie Shire Council and the NSW Fire Brigade, thanked the team at the Men’s Shed, the community who supported the project, and Keep Australia Beautiful for the award.

“Tidy Towns put us up for the award, and that’s how we got it. I didn’t even know we’d been nominated until they rang me up and told me I’d won,” he said.

Return and Earn is a unique fundraising channel that converts your litter reduction and recycling efforts into dollars to support a cause. For more information on how to fundraise, visit Fundraising – Return and Earn NSW

This article first appeared in The Region Riverina