By Ted Battiston
RMOW Sustainability Initiatives
Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard’s recent
autobiography, “Let My People Go Surfing – The Education of a Reluctant
Businessman” is full of environmental philosophy, employee policy and lifestyle
marketing. One of the many declarations from the book that stuck with me was
this: despite everything Patagonia strives to accomplish, Yvon unequivocally
asserts that the most environmentally responsible way to outfit ourselves is to
“buy used clothes”.
Good advice, but in Whistler, it turns out
that buying used clothes at the Re-Use-It Centre (RUIC) is about far more than
just waste diversion and resource extraction — though these are meaningful
angles on the story as well (more on these later).
Constructed in the fall of 1999, the RUIC
opened its doors in March 2000.
Designed and built for just over $120,000 by the Resort Municipality of
Whistler (RMOW), the initial building was 1,500 sq. ft. and Whistler Community
Services Society (WCSS) was authorized to operate the facility for the first
three years. Its overwhelming success has resulted in two expansions to date,
resulting in a total of 2,500 sq. ft. of indoor space and approximately 500 sq.
ft of outdoor covered area for sheltering larger items. The WCSS contract to
operate the facility now extends to 2008.
Located at the Function Junction compactor
site, Whistler's only thrift store sells donated items ranging from sports
gear and furniture to vintage clothing and books. Open seven days a
week, employees and volunteers sort, price, set out and cull the donations
as required. The items being sold are in great shape and working order, and the
RUIC gives them a second life in a new home, thus keeping the materials out of
the landfill and providing funky and affordable goods for new owners. As such,
the RUIC contributes directly to achieving the Material & Solid Waste
Strategy and the Resident Affordability Strategy within Whistler2020.
The RUIC goes even further to help move
Whistler toward other Whistler2020 strategies, including the Recreation &
Leisure Strategy, the Health & Social Strategy as well as the Economic
The breadth of the RUIC’s positive impact in
the community is further leveraged by directing the profits from the Centre to
fund a full three quarters of WCSS’s programs and services, including:
Kitchens, the Community Greenhouse project, the Counselling Assistance Fund,
Emergency Financial Assistance, the Food Bank, The Food Buying Club, S.N.O.W.
(Support Network of Whistler), Parent-Infant Drop-In, Santa’s Helpers Christmas
Hamper Program, The Whistler Employment Resource Centre, Youth Outreach, Peer
Educator Program, Whistler Welcome Week, M.A.S.H. (Meals Assistance with
Seniors Help) and the Adopt-a-Young Adult program.
Most Whistlerites likely don’t even know that
all of these programs exist, let alone that they are primarily fuelled by the
RUIC’s steady stream of mindful donators and supportive second-hand shoppers.
And the story doesn’t stop there. Some RUIC
profits and donated items are directed toward other community groups such as
Zero Ceiling and the Squamish Easter Seals Camp, and to organizations in times
of need, including Whistler-Blackcomb staff housing and the Mt. Currie flood
and fire relief efforts.
Now back to the materials stream — the
RUIC also provides a meaningful example of the municipality’s zero waste
commitment, diverting tonnes of trash from a landfilled destiny —
contributing to measured decreases in Whistler’s total landfilled waste for
four of the last five years. Way to go RUIC!
If you’re interested, the Re-Use-It Centre is
currently looking for volunteers. Call Lorna at 604-932-1121.
Once again, many thanks are due to all the community
groups, businesses and individuals who are helping to make Whistler an
increasingly sustainable and successful community on a daily basis.
To KNOW MORE about other actions that are
moving our community toward a more sustainable future, or to find out how we’re
performing along our journey visit:
To suggest a story idea, get involved with the Whistler2020 task force process,
or to suggest actions for Task Force consideration, email email@example.com