To truly break away from the take-make-waste cycle we need to put things we no longer need or want back into the cycle so others can use them.
Continuing to just pile up stuff in our houses makes it more likely it will end up in the landfill as it becomes outdated, obsolete, or maybe gets broken or loses pieces or becomes musty from sitting around for years. Throughout the week, we talked about some of the more well-known places to donate or give away items so they can be reused or repurposed, as well as some you may not know about.
Keeping Things in Circulation
We need to keep things in circulation in order to fuel the secondhand economy and a lot of people have been getting rid of things – first inspired by Marie Kondo and her “Tidying Up” method and then while stuck at home during COVID. Some people worry about what happens to their stuff when they donate it and, as someone who volunteers at a local thrift store, Ann Raridon (Sustainable Blacksburg’s Board President) can tell you that they work hard to get your items out on the floor to be sold. They also try to put a value on it that’s commensurate with its original value. However, hundreds of items come in every day so it takes some time to sort it all out and there are some things you can do that would really help out:
1. Make sure clothing and other items don’t smell musty or have picked up other odors. People don’t want to buy things that smell and they can also make other nearby items smell. Many (maybe most) thrift stores don’t have the capability to launder items before they are put out for sale.
2. Put fragile items in a box with some protective paper or padding because the boxes are going to get moved around before the items inside get sorted and priced. Items could get broken before anyone has a chance to see what they are and we really do want to get your items out in the store.
3. If you’re donating something with multiple pieces, put them in a bag so the pieces don’t get separated. It’s really helpful if you can bag puzzles and the pieces of a game or craft kit inside their boxes because it’s very easy for loose pieces to get lost if the boxes are turned on their sides or if there are gaps in the packaging (a particular problem with craft kits). If you know crucial pieces are missing, consider offering it to someone for free or throwing it away. Volunteers don’t have time to check everything and people can get upset if they pay for something that’s missing important parts.
4. Please consider taking your interest in sustainability a step further and join the volunteers working hard at local thrift stores to keep items out of the landfill.
Habitat NRV ReStore
The Habitat NRV ReStore is a special kind of secondhand store that accepts unused home project items, gently-used furniture, appliances, doors, windows, unused contractor items, etc. When you donate to (or shop at) the ReStore, you support affordable housing initiatives throughout the NRV while redirecting waste from the landfill. Our local store can even pick up your donations for FREE if you live in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and other select areas in the NRV.
New River Creative Reuse Center
The New River Creative Reuse Center collects items that might otherwise go to the landfill or conventional recycling and makes them available at no cost to local educators and nonprofit organizations for use in art and other projects. By REUSING these materials we are REDUCING the need for the manufacture of new items. In addition, research shows that using these unconventional materials actually stimulates greater creativity in children and provides them with better learning opportunities. Creative reuse is better for the environment, better for children and saves teachers money – we call it a win-win-win! They operate out of a storage area in the back of Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum at the mall in Christiansburg and donations may be dropped off at their front desk during their open hours.
Little Free Libraries
Have books you’re ready to pass on for someone else to enjoy? There are lots of options, including thrift stores and the library for their ongoing book sale. A fun way to share your books is to find one of the Little Free Library spots around town. Locations include the Rec Center and the Blacksburg Farmers Market and more seem to be popping up all of the time. You can leave books in one of these locations anytime. The Montgomery County Christmas Store will also accept gently used books and cookbooks. Don’t let books you’re not going to use again languish on your shelves when you can pass them on to someone else to help keep the secondhand economy going.
Give New Life to Old Athletic and Soccer Shoes
You can drop off your used athletic and soccer shoes at RunAbout Sports at 1470 S. Main St. and they will get them to people in need. They ask that you tie the shoes together and be mindful of the condition of your shoes (used but not abused): “If your shoes have holes and are in noticeably horrible condition, please don’t bring them as we just end up throwing them out.”
Week 18 starts tomorrow! Join us as we talk about how much of an impact reusing or repairing something you already have instead of buying new can have on sustainability. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.