Reuse centres in every neighbourhood and at Waste Disposal Sites and Transfer Stations
Hornby Island does it, so can we! The idea is simple - create a designated place for people to drop off useful items for other people to take home, for free. Yes, it requires a little bit of management to make sure our community spaces don't get over run with old computers, but this can be a great way for people to get stuff they need, and to reduce waste going to landfill.
Fernwood, in Victoria, has a little gazebo in their neighbourhood square to drop stuff off. Montreal has the legendary ongoing, city wide, garage sale. And Hornby Island has the free store - a thrift store, run by community volunteers, where everything is free!
The draft Greenest City Action Plan includes an action to develop reuse centres.
The hidden gem in this idea is the opportunity for jobs. Sorting and merchandising used goods is time consuming and requires a fair amount of personnel. Make this enterprise "for-profit", and give people good jobs! Habitat for Humanity's Restore is a great model but it is run mostly by volunteers and profits fund their building projects. Transfer station stores can put that money into a fleet of well paid workers instead.
NOTE: Kirsten's idea "A massive materials trading post" has been merged with this one.
Create a city-supported organization with a central warehouse to create a trading post of sorts, where people can bring their scrap or unwanted materials (building materials, fabric, art supplies, garden supplies, bikes etc) and the organization sorts it for resale or trade.
Andrew Frank commented
I love this idea! One person's trash is another person's treasure. I'm often looking for materials on Craig's list - what I like about this is that it would reduce vehicle trips (one stop shopping) and help normalize the re-use of scrap materials - there are Habitat for Humanity's ReStores in Vancouver, but perhaps the city could help expand this. Good idea!
NOTE: Big Dave's idea "Create "Trash to Treasure" Stores at Waste Disposal Sites and Transfer Stations" has been merged with this one
Whenever I go to the transfer station I am amazed at the high quality items that people throw away. We could reduce a huge amount of waste if there was a "store" right at the transfer station where people could drop off items that they no longer want but that others might want. Provided that the items were accepted by the store, the people dropping them off would avoid paying a tipping fee for them. The collected items could then be sold for just enough money to cover the operating costs of the "Trash to Treasure" stores. This approach has been implemented very successfully in some other North American and European cities.
Re 2nd hand stores comment: they don't accept couches and large furniture generally, I've tried everywhere.
There is another idea the same as this just above, unfortunately, this will split the vote for a really great idea.
Big Dave commented
Yes, Tax Free, your comments are correct and Habitat for Humanity also accepts donations of building materials. However, what other jurisdictions have found is that when the drop-off point is right at or beside the place were people go to dispose of their unwanted items, the recovery rate goes up very dramatically.
Value Village accepts donations at 49th Ave and Victoria Drive.
The Various SPCA stores accept donations.
There are diabetes , big brother and etc, boxes accepting clothes.
Stella, would you like to help Zero Waste Vancouver set up a new social enterprise: a chain of neighbourhood thrift stores? We are looking for vacant storefronts in different neighbourhoods where we could operate. There is a huge inventory of valuable stuff going to waste -- as we approach Peak Oil these products will have greater and greater value. Will YOUR neighbourhood be the first one to set up a ZW Thrift Store?