As the Squamish landfill reaches capacity, there's no better time to begin differentiating between used and unusable.
Ensuring loved-but-no-longer-needed household goods go to new homes instead of into the garbage is one of the easiest ways to reduce a city's environmental footprint but in places like Squamish without a Re-Use-It Centre, that's not always easy to do.
To mitigate the issue, the Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN) has organized the first annual community-wide Re-Use-It Fair on Saturday, April 16. It will replace one of two free dump days held in Squamish per year.
"I think a greater and greater amount of people are looking to do this, they want to do this and they're demanding there be a way to do it," said Squamish CAN coordinator Ana Santos. "It's amazing how many people in Squamish are inquiring and offering solutions and discussing what we can do."
Santos first came up with the Re-Use-It Fair concept last year after stationing herself at the local landfill on free dump day. She noticed that people were coming with furniture and appliances still in decent condition and when given the choice to put their stuff in the landfill or the small area set aside for reusable items, they tended to use the latter.
"The area that was dedicated to the reused stuff was full of people looking around and looking through the stuff and at the end of the day there were vehicles coming in empty because they wanted to take stuff away, so I thought perhaps we can do something about it," she said.
"I spent those two days at the landfill to see the people who were coming in, talking with them about what they were bringing and why and seeing whether they would welcome any alternatives and what that would be and it was amazing."
Armed with a list of requests from Squamish locals that clearly expressed a desire to see some sort of reused household goods program implemented, Santos and Squamish CAN made good on their mandate to provide a solution.
The District of Squamish supports the efforts, which mayor Greg Gardner said are an extension of the initiatives already taken to reduce waste. Current tipping fees for waste are set to rise to dissuade needless dumping of garbage at the landfill and the district plans on phasing out free dump days entirely.
"Our community is used to having two free dump days per year," said Gardner.
"That is not a good policy because it encourages people to put waste into the landfill. So this year we're going down from two days to one community clean up day to transition that, and get people thinking about recycling.
"The Squamish Landfill is reaching capacity and we believe that we are going to have to do something about it because we will reach capacity within the year."
The District is looking at two options that will address the capacity issue at the landfill - a horizontal expansion of the boundaries or piling waste higher onto the existing site, which is more expensive. A report on the matter will be released to council on April 19.
The Re-Use-It fair will include a local farmer's market, live entertainment and children's activities - including a craft table using reusable supplies - ongoing throughout the day.
In the Adventure Centre theatre, Squamish CAN will be showing movies, documentaries and cartoons related to environmental issues. The end of the day will culminate with a screening of The Clean Bin Project and a question and answer period with the movie's makers, Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin.
The documentary takes a light-hearted look at the lives of two Vancouver residents and their journey through a zero waste, consumer-free year.
To drop off any usable furniture, appliances, toys, bikes, electronics and organics (wood and garden waste) for the Re-Use-It Fair, swing by the gravel parking lot adjacent to the Squamish Adventure Centre on Saturday, April 16 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Volunteers will be on hand to help unload and sort.
To help out or learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.