Prompted by the possibility of a $500 grant from the West Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grant program, residents designed a “spring cleaning” project with two complimentary objectives:
- to assist in the re-distribution or disposal of “stuff” for those among our residents who might not have the means to deal it. By “means” we were thinking of physical or mental barriers that limit their ability to tackle larger clean-up jobs and then dispose of unwanted items. The intent was for unwanted items to be shared, recycled, or as a last resort sent to landfill; and
- to build community during the process since neighbours would be helping their neighbours by picking up their unwanted items, setting up a re-distribution centre at our community hall and organizing the whole project as a social event with refreshments.
We had no idea how successful this would be!
Several weeks in advance we distributed a brochure (handsomely printed on glossy paper). We described the intent of the project with the focus on re-distribution, re-cycling and up-cycling of stuff and with the “bonus” of several able-bodied neighbours being on hand to come to individual residences to assist in the pick up of unwanted items.
On the front grounds of the community hall we set up “stations” where we sorted items within the following categories and were thus able to monitor what could be shared, what was recyclable and what should/could go to landfill in the 30 cubic yard dumpster:
- household goods (everything from artwork to kitchen utensils)
- small electrical appliances
- toxic waste (e.g., paint, batteries, etc.)
- garden-related items,
- and a rather large section of miscellaneous!
We were unable to weigh everything that arrived, but it’s likely safe to assume that at least twice the weight of what went into the dumpster was dealt with as intended. The stats are:
- just over 100 cans of paint to recycling depot
- a one-ton truckload of cardboard to recycling depot
- a trailer-load of metal to North Shore Metal Recycling
- a trailer-load of wood to Urban Repurposing
- a trailer-load of small appliances to recycling depot
- a van-load of electronics to Free Geek
- a van load of styrofoam to recycling depot
- two carloads of clothing and small items to Good Stuff
- a truckload of household items to Salvation Army thrift store
- a carload of books to Children’s Hospital
- car oil and antifreeze to Alba Automotives
- two new furniture items to the permanent garage sale nearby
- one mattress (brand new, still in plastic) to recycling depot
- about twenty bins of paper and cardboard that were picked up by kerb-side recycling
Now THAT’s a clean up!!
It must emphasized that this project would have been utterly impossible without the generous commitment of time and energy by four men in particular who spent over 10 hours on both days of the event and on the Monday, helping residents by picking up their stuff (and in one case even demolishing an old shed), loading and unloading at the community centre and then re-loading what needed to be re-distributed. It was a gargantuan task and since we couldn’t possibly have anticipated the volume of the response, their willingness to just keep going was invaluable.
We wish we’d kept a log of all the wonderful, positive, happy comments that we heard from the tens of people who dropped by to leave their unwanted things and/or who picked up treasures to take home. And we’d like to add that the fact that this wasn’t a “garage sale” ~ that people just freely gave up things they didn’t need any more for someone else to use or benefit from ~ truly made it a community-building and neighbour-networking experience. We had three picnic-tables set up where neighbours enjoyed coffee and pastries. The sunny weather made it absolutely festive!
Again, let we’d like to offer our most sincere gratitude to the West Vancouver Foundation and their Neighbourhood Small Grant program that allowed the idea to germinate in the first place, to the management of the Home Park, and to the executive of the Home Owners’ Association who generously stepped in cover the budget overage.
Julie and Trish