Tim puts aside chronic pain to gather lids for kids

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Lids4Kids founder Tim Miller with some of his million lids… “Life’s short but even with chronic pain you can do something useful to help other people.” Photo: Danielle Nohra

LIDS4KIDS founder Tim Miller is calling on the government and beverage companies to buy the machines his charity needs to keep plastic lids out of landfill and repurpose them into items for kids with disabilities. 

“There’s no way we can humanly manage them on our own,” says Tim, 43, of Aranda, who started collecting the lids about three months ago through the Aranda street community library. 

“I put a little bucket out there three months ago, in June, and made the mistake of putting it on Facebook and it went viral,” he says.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Within 48 hours I had over 1000 messages from people all over Australia wanting to help.”

Initially Lids4Kids was attempting to collect 250,000 lids by the end of the year for the Victorian children’s charity Envision Hands, which makes prosthetic limbs for children, but they exceeded that number in three weeks. So far, Tim’s team has saved more than one and a half million lids from landfill. 

“We want to rescue every lid from landfill now. We’re not turning any away,” Tim says. 

Lids4Kids will continue to donate lids to Envision Hands, when needed, but will need to repurpose the rest of the lids (more than a million) themselves. 

Tim’s set up Lids4Kids as a charity and is asking the ACT government, the Federal government and beverage companies to collectively donate the $600,000 needed to buy machines the charity needs to shred the lids and turn the plastic into items for children living with disabilities. 

“We don’t want the money to come out of the general public,” Tim says.

“We want these businesses who are putting the lids out there to help us close the loop by chipping in for the machines so we can repurpose every lid. 

“We now have a voice to say: ‘Look at what the little people of Australia are doing. Look at what kids are doing.’

“Close the loop, give us money so your products don’t go to landfill. Little kids have stepped up and said: ‘No, we don’t want this to go in the bin.’

“Give us money for the machines so we can recycle it.” 

When Lids4Kids gets the shredders, Tim says they will train people who are living with a disability to use them.

“Then the pellets that come out of it can be sent to plastics workshops and made into any product,” he says. 

“We want to put a machine in every capital city, starting in Canberra – where it all began.”

Now, in nearly every single town in Australia, there’s someone like Tim collecting lids but the inspiration started when Tim’s outback charity rally team needed 100,000 bottles and cans to enter a rally. 

“We were taking the lids off and we didn’t know what to do with them,” he says. 

“Then we were told that anything smaller than a credit card can’t be recycled. 

“They fly off and get jammed in the gears so they go to landfill.”

It was then that Tim decided he was going to try and rescue every single lid from landfill. 

But the desire to support disadvantaged children goes back about 10 years when Tim was diagnosed with incurable bowel disease, liver disease and fibromyalgia. 

“When I was very, very sick, I didn’t know how long I had left,” Tim says. 

“When I was bedridden in hospital, I was only 30 something and I was surrounded by lots of older people and I was feeling sorry for myself. 

“Then a nine-year-old girl walked into the ward and had the same thing as me. That’s when I realised there are so many kids younger than me with similar health issues. 

“The very next day I started fundraising for children’s charities and haven’t felt sorry for myself since.” 

These days Tim has about half an hour a day where he feels good before he’s forced to curl up in bed with heat packs, but he wants to inspire others in a similar situation to do charity work, too. 

“I want people living with chronic pain or an incurable disease to know that there’s still things they can do,” says Tim, a self-confessed house dad with three kids under 10. 

“I was originally told I’d only have two years to live. You feel pretty sad but that nine-year-old girl completely changed my perspective.

“Life’s short but even with chronic pain you can do something useful to help other people. 

“I started a nationwide charity, even though I’m in chronic pain and stuck in bed all day.” 

Lids4Kids now has more than 7000 collection points around the country and Tim encourages people to jump onto the Lids4Kids Facebook page to find one near them. 

Tim’s looking for people to donate milk bottle lids, water bottle lids and soft drink lids but he says if other lids are donated such as juice lids, which are too hard to shred, he still finds a way to repurpose them and keep them out of landfill.

“Daycare and kindergartens have been coming to pick up the hard lids to use them for arts and craft,” he says. 

“Every single lid gets repurposed, nothing goes to landfill.”

Tim also wants to inspire children to make a difference and recycle lids. 

“Most people who help us out are kids under the age of six,” he says.

“I’ve given about 20 presentations at schools now and the message I give is that even though you’re one kid, all together, it makes a huge difference. 

“The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I can inspire kids and teach them that no matter how small they are, anyone can make a difference.” 

People can join a Lids4Kids group via facebook.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is a "CityNews" staff journalist.

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