I Can't Recycle It !

 A student ponders if something can be recycled

 I can’t recycle it. It’s missing a part. I don’t want this anymore. None of my friends want it. I don’t have time to sell it. I’m moving away soon and I can’t take this with me. These are all (mostly valid) excuses I’ve heard for tossing potentially useful things in a dumpster. But I think everyone should have the choice to not throw out their excess stuff when they no longer have any use for them, especially when some people go without these things. Fortunately, at uOttawa, you do have that choice at the Free Store

The Free Store is a hub for all the things that you no longer need so they can find a home where they'll be used again. Donations are usually received in a large box on the porch of the Free Store (647 King Edward) throughout the year, but especially during residence move out (Dump and Run). The donations are then cleaned, organized and presented on the shelves of the Free Store by volunteers to be taken by students, staff or community members.

The Free Store, which started as a monthly tabling event in the University Centre, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. We now have a year round location at 647 King Edward, in the little red house, that is open three days a week during the school year.

In my time as Free Store coordinator, I have had many visitors to the Free Store who have thanked me profusely and even refused to take items altogether without giving me something back or offering me a favour in return. This has always left me very puzzled since my job is to give away these items so that they don`t end up being thrown out.

I spend large amounts of my time convincing my roommates, family and friends that they need more forks or just one more toaster for their bedroom. No really! Trust me on this one! It`ll save you so much travel time in the morning! The Free Store benefits everyone involved as well as our environment. Students, charities, staff and community members are getting things they need. Waste is being diverted from landfill. The university is saving money on waste disposal. Win. Win. Win.

International students and students in residence find the Free Store particularly valuable since they arrive in Ottawa with a very limited amount of necessities. If they know about the Free Store, they will at least have the choice to choose the more sustainable/cheaper option. Every September, we host two days at the Free Store just for international students to pick up stuff. We regularly have lineups snaking out the front door!

Despite our efforts on the back end of things, it’s important that people reduce their consumption at the front end by making an effort not to always buy new. And when they do buy new things, to make sure they buy things that are durable.
Check the Free Store before buying new. Check out our residence green move in guide. Buy your textbooks used whenever possible. What most folks don’t realize is that you end up saving lots of money on all of these things too!

One thing that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that our yearly haul of donations has increased every year since its inception. This makes me wonder if our collecting practices are becoming more efficient? Or if students are becoming increasingly wasteful? Maybe items are being made less durable? A combination of these three factors? I have no answers, but for anyone who does I’d be happy to pass along my contact information.

 ~ geoff - free store coordinator

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