The Great Glebe Garage Sale – a model for promoting the circular economy


A scene from last year’s Great Glebe Garage Sale. This year’s sale will take place May 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photo: Liz McKeen



By Colette Downie


More and more, the Great Glebe Garage Sale (GGGS) is recognized for its success in contributing to the circular economy. In contrast to the traditional model of take-make-dispose, the circular economy model promotes the reuse, refurbishment, recycling, and regeneration of products and materials to create a closed-loop system.

Over the winter, we heard from several organizations that see the GGGS as a model and wanted to know the secret of our neighbourhood-wide success. For example, we heard from university researchers and a charity wanting to better understand our success in closing the loop at an enormous scale. We also heard from someone in another municipality looking to understand best practices for a giant area-wide garage sale to foster re-use and community spirit and from the City as it considers ways to minimize the waste that heads to landfills.

Beyond finding new owners for things, garage sales like the GGGS extend products’ lifespans, so fewer items are discarded prematurely and dumped in landfills. Instead of buying new items, shoppers at the GGGS can purchase second-hand goods at bargain prices. Items get a second or even a third life with a new owner.

The GGGS is also seen as a model for those looking to reinforce a culture of conscious consumption. For example, the GGGS encourages people to think twice before buying new items or discarding old ones and to consider alternative options such as donation or resale to reduce waste.

There’s no doubt the GGGS contributes hugely to the circular economy, and we think its organic, community-wide, spring-festival spirit is what makes it such a success year after year.  Community engagement is the secret sauce of the GGGS – the sale fosters connections between neighbours and encourages community participation. This sense of community involvement, including fundraising for the Ottawa Food Bank, promotes the sharing and exchange of goods, raising awareness and reinforcing the concept of a circular economy.

This year’s GGGS is scheduled for May 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you live in the neighbourhood, no permission or application is needed to sell your stuff from your own porches, driveways or lawns. Renters may need to check with their landlords, and a permit from the city is required to sell food.

Check out our FAQs ( if you want to know more about how to take part. You’ll also find a link thereto a list of organizations that accept donated goods and to the City of Ottawa’s Waste Explorer – in case you don’t manage to sell everything and for any time you want to recycle or give your stuff new life.

Since its inception in 1986, the Great Glebe Garage Sale has been a fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank. Again, this year, we hope you’ll join us by donating a portion of your sale proceeds to the food bank – or by donating in-person or online in the name of our community.


Colette Downie is vice president at the Glebe Community Association and organizer of the Great Glebe Garage Sale.


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