Lockdown with Andrew Valder

Andrew Valder (AV) is the Co-Founder of Garage Sale Trail & Grow it Local – Australia’s largest sustainability, growing & community programs. A Bondi local and hipster at heart, AV is known for his love of the coast, music and the environment – a combination that has seen him carve out his very own niche in the world of reuse, recycling and gardening.


Having worked with AV for near on 10 years, we knew he’d be embracing isolation in his own unique way (he didn’t disappoint), and the opportunity to get a peek into this Sydney-siders life in lockdown was too good to pass up, so naturally, we had to share.

What business sites/blogs/podcasts are offering solid advice/insight for this time in your profession?

I have self-managed super and love trading shares. It’s been a remarkable time where lots of money has been lost and lots of money has been made. I’ve found myself discovering lots of share market podcasts like ‘The Rules of Investing’ from Livewire.

What is keeping you sane?

Once we got through the mind-bending upheaval of the first few weeks, and without wanting to take anything away from the global social and economic carnage the virus has wreaked, I’ve grown to become quite fond of this period. Sure, my income is down the toilet but on the plus side, I’m loving the traffic-free streets, the general sense of calm. People are on foot. People are on bikes. The sky is clear. I’m loving the decrease in personal choice. Life becomes so much simpler, and it puts into sharp focus what’s important.  Like so many I’ve been drawn to nature to keep my head screwed on and discovering walk or bike paths within walking or bike riding distance of my place has been really good for my head.

I live 15 minutes from the city, and I’ve discovered this stunning tract of bushland where you could be anywhere. I’ve been doing more stand up paddle boarding, (yes, it’s a legitimate form of lockdown exercise) and generally doing more things I haven’t done in ages. I watched two movies back to back on Sunday and played cards. 

What business ‘pivots’ have you admired?

If ever there was a time that gives credence to necessity being the mother of all invention it would be right now – we really are such a creative and inventive bunch. I live near a bunch of decent cafes, and all of a sudden its absolutely plausible that in addition to the great brekkie rolls, they are also selling their really good barista-made almond milk, alongside their tasty wine and giant rolls of toilet paper. It’s nuts – and no one bats an eyelid!

There’s another fantastic bar-restaurant in Bondi called The Corner House. A mere three weeks after the doors closed amidst Covid-19 restrictions they came up with The Bondi Bootlegger – an online delivery service for booze wrapped up in a super cool brand with lashings of creativity and fun all done on a shoestring budget. So nimble. So excellent.

What are you listening to at the moment – is there a favourite playlist you can share?

I operate under some misconception that deep down somewhere inside me I’m still a tiny bit cool. If I shared my playlist with you, it would be revealed to all that I am not. As a long-time advocate of the ABC, I’ve now become a devotee of Radio National. I’ve always been into AM and PM (shows) but now I’ve gotten hooked on their breakfast show. Incredibly informative. Not to mention Insiders on a Sunday morning, the radio version is fine. They are all a cut above the rest. Then those poor buggers on Offsiders (a sports show) have to fill up 30 minutes whilst not a single game of sport is being played on the planet. That’s a skill. 

What are you reading? (audiobooks count too!)

Another thing about this period is that whilst I’ve always read the SMH online – these days there is actually news to read and stuff that affects us that has been and is happening on a daily basis, so I’ve become addicted to that. In addition to SMH, I’m on a diet of The New York Times, and I don’t know if you call it reading, but Twitter has taken up more of my life now than it ever has before.

What are you watching? Whether you’ve delved into the depths of Netflix, you’re occupying your time with YouTube tutorials or you’re revisiting your old DVD collection we want to know about it.

I’ve been in movie mode. Contagion was epic. Christian Bale was so good in Ford Versus Ferrari, and because time is less precious than it used to be, I watched Encino Man on the weekend.  I have set a goal to watch all Judd Apatow movies by the time Coronavirus comes to an end – I have kicked things off by re-watching Knocked Up and This is 40.

How are you entertaining the kids (or flatmate, dog or cat) at the moment?

I don’t know if you could say how am I entertaining the kids or more accurately how is YouTube entertaining the kids? Pre-virus it was on my bucket list to bike ride with all of my kids. They were never up for it. We’re doing it at least once a week at the minute. Tick.

Best home office hack? Tell us how you’re minimising distractions, organising your workspace or improving productivity.

My best hack to minimise distractions and increase productivity is to go to the office (if you can). There’s no one there. I like the structure. I get to drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge sans traffic. The view is amazing when you’re not part of the rat race, and all the takeaway food providers are doing the craziest deals to get your patronage. The city is beautiful with no one in it.

What are you cooking? If you’ve got a favourite isolation recipe, we’d love to hear about it.

Like everyone else, Covid-19 has been a great excuse to do something new. I love cooking on a fire. I got given a pizza oven that goes over a fire pit a few years back but had embarrassingly never used it. It’s been getting a workover since last March. It’s also got my kids and I cooking together a lot more. I just brought some yeast for our debut into pizza dough. Fingers crossed.

Have you gotten on board with any of the current social media cooking trends – sourdough or banana bread perhaps?

If pizza dough is a social media trend, then I am just about to smash some out this weekend!

To counter all of the cooking, how are you finding your 30 each day? If you’ve moved to an ‘at-home’ fitness regime tell us about it.

This side of my life has fallen to pieces. Basketball, ocean swimming and boot camp were my standard forms of exercise and I haven’t adapted well. Let’s just say I’ve under indexed here…but the beaches have just reopened. Happy face.

How are you mixing things up on the weekends when the days all seem to blur into one?

It’s funny how life goes right. I just became one of those people who choreographed the kids and their Mum dancing to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd. Didn’t see that coming…

Garage Sale Trail – https://www.garagesaletrail.com.au
Grow it Local – https://www.growitlocal.com


Word: Hayley Sare

Imagery: Andrew Valder