By Sarah Young
With the Great Glebe Garage Sale (GGGS) just a few days away, spring cleaning and community engagement is upon us! As we come out of our homes to greet one another after a long winter, we are also greeting a new sense of urgency for our planet: local and global communities are facing floods, fires and what scientists are referring to as the sixth great extinction. Ottawa has declared a state of climate emergency. It’s time to awaken to this and act with a more global conscience in our daily decision-making.
This article is dedicated to a zero-waste mentality, striving to create an environmental and community consciousness around the many and varied household items that we would like to clear out. Rather than treating them as waste and pitching them into your garbage can or trucking them to a landfill, here is a range of ways to reduce waste, redirect and repurpose your goods and help your community at the same time.
While the GGGS is the best place to do so, it could be that you don’t have the time or availability to get out your own table this year. If that’s the case, consider bringing your household items to OCRA, Ottawa Centre Refugee Action, whose volunteers will sell your donations to raise money for newly arrived refugee families. They are accepting goods on Friday, May 24 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at 166 Glebe Avenue, or on the day of the GGGS at the corner of Glebe and Lyon.
Though you may sell or be able to donate a good portion of your household items, invariably a number of things will not get sold. So this year, let’s commit to avoiding sending anything to landfill. Instead let’s consider all the many and wonderful places that exist in our community that will happily take your items to help those in need.
For a few years now I’ve been taking my children’s shoes to a BioPed location in the city that then donates them to the Soles 4 Souls foundation. Please check out their website: soles4souls.org.
Used bikes can be brought to our local Bronson Avenue Cycle Salvation social enterprise that provides training and employment in bike mechanics to people who are economically disadvantaged, while at the same time diverting bikes destined for scrap and landfill sites: cyclesalvation.org.
Helping With Furniture provides gently used furniture and household goods to families and individuals in distress, to help them start new lives in Ottawa. They include refugees, recent immigrants, people relocating from shelters and other at-risk groups. Check out their website at hwfottawa.org.
Old washers, dryers, countertops, bathtubs or any other leftovers from your household renovations can be picked up by Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store or you can deliver them to one of their two locations in Ottawa, 768 Belfast Road or 7 Enterprise Avenue. See: habitatgo.com/restore.
Bring your used technology, including laptops, desktops and cell phones to Compucorps charity in Hintonburg and receive cash back in some cases. Compucorps is another amazing social enterprise, providing tech training to at-risk groups. They will refurbish your devices and give them to people in need in our community. They will also securely wipe out all data: compucorps.org/.
For all your smaller items, even including food purchases that you now don’t want, toys, small furniture and those “$20 or less” office Christmas gifts that you received, consider joining our very own Buy Nothing Glebe/Old Ottawa East and South Facebook page and “gift” your items freely.
Gather up a cozy blanket, twin sheets, personal care products, housewares and even some tasty treats and drop them by Cornerstone Housing for Women at their 314 Booth Street location. Cornerstone has an emergency shelter and four locations helping 200 women each day. It’s a much appreciated way to connect with women in our community as they begin life anew.
For a more global impact, on your next trip down south consider contacting a local not-for-profit organization near where you will be staying. Depending on their needs, you may be packing up a bag of shoes, medical supplies or school kits to drop off at the organization on the way to your hotel. We’ve done this on trips to Mexico and the Bahamas and it was a rewarding experience. In Cozumel, the local not-for-profit organization actually came to the hotel we were staying at to pick up our donation of medical supplies.
Finally, for items that may be hazardous or considered to be e-waste, or simply don’t fit any of the categories mentioned so far, go to the Waste Explorer pages on the City of Ottawa website ottawa.ca under their garbage and recycling section. They have hundreds of locations listed as part of their Take it Back program including such things as tires and paint cans. And don’t forget that Glebe Collegiate Institute’s (GCI) Seventh Annual E-Waste Collection will be happening during the GGGS on May 25 from noon to 5 p.m. and again on May 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; drop off your old TV sets, computers, radios, stereos and cameras.
Sarah Young is co-chair of the Single Use Plastics Task Force of the Glebe Community Association.