FLAVIA Guardia is helping the environment - one coffee cup at a time.
Ms Guardia started converting used coffee cups into germination pods and cubes in 2017.
The products she designs helps fertilise the plants and are biodegradable in nature, leaving no residue and eliminating environmental contamination.
Ms Guardia moved to Australia from Buenos Aires, Argentina to learn English about three years ago.
Six months into her English course in Melbourne and working part-time as a kitchen hand and cleaner, she found the number of coffee cups discarded in rubbish bins became overwhelming.
"I realised most of my job was just to collect coffee cups from offices," she said.
"Everyday there was so much waste.
"I wanted to do something with those materials free on the street because I have experience from my country when it was in crisis in 2001."
Ms Guardia said growing up in Argentina, she realised there was huge issue of rubbish accumulation.
She said rubbish in Argentina was sold in American dollars and the prices of rubbish skyrocketed.
"All the rubbish became expensive. Whatever you picked up from the rubbish - like plastic or metal ... any materials were expensive. People started collecting rubbish from the streets and got it exchanged for money," she said.
"It started lot of co-operatives in my country. People who were left on the streets started working - they started recycling. These people started having dignity and so my first idea about it was that recycling is dignity."
Ms Guardia said she started researching habits in Australia before she established her initiative.
She learned Australians used about one billion disposable coffee cups each year - which was about 2.7 million paper coffee cups discarded every day.
She said most coffee cups were a mix of plastic and paper, with only a few councils in Victoria collecting cups for recycling.
"Most people don't know whether coffee cups can be recycled, or just throw them in the bin. We can stop this waste - we can recycle the coffee cups and help turn the paper into plants," she said.
She said her initiative involved introducing recycled and biodegradable materials back into people's lives as beautiful household and garden items.
"We design products that minimise waste. Biodegradability is our priority," she said
"I needed to design something which left no rubbish and we need to normalise recycling in one's life - and that is how I continued with the idea."
Ms Guardia said she collected most of the coffee cups from rubbish bins. She said her friends in Melbourne also helped her collect the cups.
"I have one of my friends who works at a corporate office as a cleaner. She separates the cups while cleaning and gives me about 100 coffee cups a week," she said.
Ms Guardia said people had recommended she visit coffee shops to collect their used cups.
"I have done my market research and cafes are not the place where people leave their coffee cups. Normally, people leave it at stations, in cars or at markets," she said.
Regardless, Ms Guardia said she wanted to work with cafes to encourage recycling.
"If I could work with cafes, where for 10 coffee cups people gave back, one coffee could be made free," she said.
Ms Guardia said she wanted to implement the idea in the Wimmera. She moved to Horsham about five months ago and worked as a graphic designer for Horsham's Oscar Furniture.
"I was a graphic designer in my country for 12 years but I am still learning more about the industry here and trying to pick up more English - while still trying to push my ideas about recycling," she said.
"The community is very friendly here."
Working with Oasis Wimmera and assisting the group with their patchwork plot, Ms Guardia said making community connections helped her share her vision.
Ms Guardia volunteers with Wimmera Development Association and also works with Horsham resident Wendy McInnes to design a special garbage collection bin to collect coffee cups in Horsham.
She said she was still learning spoken English to communicate better with residents.
"My housemate, Patrick Illis, helped me find a English teacher who also spoke Spanish. She takes two classes a week. I still need to learn more," she said.
Ms Guardia said she was practicing her English by spending more time with her friend Steve Price's two sons.
"Archy and Patrick are giving me a full training on how to speak. They come to my home to do their homework and they teach me pronunciation. They are very passionate about it," she laughed.
She said she enjoyed living in the Wimmera, but missed her friends and family in Argentina.
"Sometimes, it is little bit difficult. Before I came here, I was living with my friends in Melbourne. I was working for the migrant workers unions as well. We used to organise women's days, working together. We were like a family," she said.
"After I moved here, I felt very lonely in the first few months.
"It was very traumatic - but I have people who are always there for me as a friend, as a therapist."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.