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WCSS urges public to rethink what items can and cannot be donated to its stores

Social-service provider spent over $1K last month on dumping fees for items that could not be resold

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It's not unusual for Lori Pyne to come to work in the morning at the Re-Build-It Centre only to find a plethora of items that people have dropped off outside of business hours. She's found everything from stained mattresses to old fridges with food still inside, damaged furniture, and a whole litany of other used goods that the Function Junction store can't sell.

"We do save as much as we possibly can, but inevitably we can't save everything. It's educating the public on what we can sell for money for charity, while at the same time diverting the waste," explained Pyne, the manager of the Re-Build-It. "Sometimes people think we are a dump, and we're not, we're a waste diversion (facility)."

The problem has only become worse since both stores operated by the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) relocated this summer to more central locations: the Re-Build-It is now located on Lynham Road at the former site of the Re-Use-It Centre, while the expanded Re-Use-It can now be found at 8000 Nesters Road, next to Whistler's waste depot.

"The challenge we have is people are dropping stuff off that we cannot upcycle or put on our floors," explained WCSS executive director Jackie Dickinson. "What we really want to communicate to the public is that costs us money as a non-profit, and it's really hard because we're spending money on dumping fees because we can't accept items."

Dickinson said WCSS spent over $1,000 last month on dumping fees at the Callaghan waste station, funds that "could be going towards programming that could greatly impact our community.

"It comes down to people just being a little bit more aware around what they can provide us and what we can realistically upcycle and recycle and put on our floor again," she added.

All the items donated to either the Re-Build-It or Re-Use-It should be clean and in working order, Pyne explained.

"Generally, that is something that is not ripped or stained or broken," she said. "Sometimes people drop off a dresser and say, 'Oh, this is great, but two of the drawers are broken and it'd be great if you guys could fix them.' We don't have time to do that."

Certain items cannot legally be accepted due to safety or hygienic concerns, such as baby strollers, child car seats and medical equipment. Pyne also discouraged the public from donating blinds, bi-fold doors and dishwashers, which cannot be tested at the store.

The community is encouraged to drop off donations during regular business hours so an attendant can verify whether the items can be resold. Previously, the Re-Use-It Centre had blue donation bins outside of the store, but at its new location, manager Pau Rehel said there isn't any room for them.

"So we're working with the muni to hopefully find a bit of space," he added. "Pretty much every day you'll get there in the morning and there will be a pile of stuff outside, which is fine. If people are leaving town early in the morning, they're either going to dump it outside of the store or they're going to dump it somewhere else, so it's better that it's outside the store, because at least we can manage it and get it to where it needs to go."

The WCSS' recycling program diverted 839,000 kilograms of waste from the landfill last year, for a direct cost savings of just over $100,000.

The Re-Use-It Centre is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the Re-Build-It Centre is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Re-Build-It also does curbside pickups every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for $35.

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