Recycling is a hot topic in this age of environmental concerns, but there’s something even better than recycling — reusing.
It’s with that in mind that Lethbridge’s sixth annual Reuse Rendezvous will take place Sept. 8-10, providing an opportunity for unwanted items to find new purpose instead of winding up in the landfill.
It’s a simple but effective concept. People place items they no longer use or want in front of their homes the evening of Sept. 8 (Friday), marked with a “Free” sign. Then during the weekend, people can cruise the streets and help themselves to the free goodies. On Sunday evening (Sept. 10), homeowners take the unclaimed items back inside.
“Reuse Rendezvous is the perfect opportunity to declutter and pass on items that you no longer need,” explains Kathleen Sheppard, executive director with Environment Lethbridge, which organizes the annual event. “It’s also a great opportunity to find new-to-you treasures. For students returning for the fall semester, it’s the perfect way to furnish an apartment or dorm room.”
The idea of Reuse Rendezvous, which was adopted by Lethbridge in 2011, has been catching on elsewhere. The City of Nanaimo has hosted the annual event for more than 15 years, but conducts it in April. The Town of Coaldale held its second annual Reuse Rendezvous this past May.
Residents wanting to participate in Reuse Rendezvous can obtain their free lawn sign at the Environment Lethbridge office (319 6 St. S.). Participating households are also encouraged to register their items on an online map hosted by Environment Lethbridge. More information about Reuse Rendezvous, can be found at the Environment Lethbridge website (www.environmentlethbridge.ca/reuse) or on Environment Lethbridge’s Facebook page.
Sheppard says last year was the second year online registration was used and organizers noticed a significant increase in participation. Putting the locations on the Google Map helps those looking for free treasures to find the participating homes.
About 280 people registered for last year’s Reuse Rendezvous, and that was up from about 200 the previous year.
“We encourage it (registering),” says Sheppard. “Then people know where to go. It makes it easier for people looking for things.”
Environment Lethbridge will once again partner with Efutures Renewables to handle the disposal of leftover electronics. Efutures has agreed to pick up electronics on Sunday starting at noon from any household who requests pickup when they register their location for Reuse Rendezvous. Items eligible for pickup include computers, printers and televisions, along with household electronics such as small kitchen appliances, fans, etc.
While there’s no way to know just how much in the way of unwanted items Reuse Rendezvous diverts from the landfill, Sheppard says a post-Rendezvous evaluation suggests it’s a lot. Organizers heard back from about 80 participating homeowners who reported they were able to give away close to 400 boxes of items, in addition to close to 250 largers items.
“We talk a lot about recycling but I think recycling should be the last option,” says Sheppard, noting reusing is always preferable to recycling since it requires energy to convert recycled items into something usable.
Sheppard says while holding a Reuse Rendezvous event in the spring has been contemplated, the September timing was chosen because that’s when post-secondary students who are moving away from home are seeking items for their own households.
“That’s part of what we have in mind with the timing,” says Sheppard. “Students are coming back to school and that’s good timing. . . We do reach out to some student unions (to help get the word out).”
But lots of non-students appreciate Reuse Rendezvous, too — everyone from people on a limited income to those who just enjoy searching for expected treasures.
“Everybody really enjoys it,” Sheppard says. “We get treasure hunters who drive around and see what they can find.”
And for those putting out the treasures, “people are happy to clean out their garage.”
It’s a win-win situation, or win-win-win when you consider the environmental aspect.
“We keep perfectly good things from going into the landfill,” says Sheppard.
It’s something that fits in well with the work of Environment Lethbridge, which was established in 2012 and works to inspire and equip people to create widespread community action and engagement towards sustainability.
Environment Lethbridge is always looking to involve the community in the work it does. Community members and anyone who wishes to volunteer are encouraged to contact Environment Lethbridge through their website at http://www.environmentlethbridge.ca.