Don't Dump... Donate!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

As much as I love spring, spring cleaning is an environmentalists worst nightmare. Workers moving out to break the boring chain of stability, Mothers clearing out in search of something they haven’t had since they got married to thier slob of a husband, and University students running out of money to afford living away from home. Suddenly things like mr. couch, mr. toaster and mr. not-in-fashion winter coat are useless. Well, as we all know, useless things go in the garba-


Do those things look like completely unusable, filthy, destroyed messes? No. Donate them!
Okay, but you're already pressed for time, that's what you were throwing stuff out for in the first place! And if your leftovers happen to be food, a hoodie, some books, and an old toaster. How the hell do you donate that? Go to the food bank, then the salvation army, then a second hand library, then a...toaster depot? Wow, time vampire.

The solution is obvious: if you’re provided with a simple, no hassle means by which to donate rather than to throw out, chances are you will. The ‘Dump and Run’ is that simple means.

One month before moving day - May 1st - we place tables in the lobby of each uOttawa residency building. All students had to do was drop off anything they didn’t want on that table and we picked it up.

But maybe you were freakin’ out on May 1st, and you couldn’t find time to carry all that stuff downstairs. Fine. That day we brought in an army of volunteers to sweep through every hall, kitchen and common room we could and grab anything useful after you left. Where did it all go? To the LeBanc building basement.

DVDs, CDs clothes, books, headphones, hot plates, printers, toasters, shampoo, cleaning supplies, unopened make-up, clothes, shoes, blankets, candy, memory foam, bed sheets, pillows, baskets, jewelery, duotangs, goggles, purses, phones, snorkles, pots, mp3 players, pans, clothes, knives, forks, steak knives, clothes, bowls, clothes, plates, toys, clothes, mini-fridges….the list goes about as long as the imagination does. two thousand-some kilograms of stuff, and it’s about 20% of what we could be getting if we had more hands. Ripped clothes will be recycled into bags. Pairless shoes will be recycled into field turf. Expired food will be recycled into soil.

It's an awesome program, but unfortunately there are too few volunteers and too few wiling donators for the Dump and Run to exist as anything but a small once a year event in a small section of the residencies of a small group of universities.

What if....we made the Dump and Run a store? You want a printer? Instead of shelling out $70 bucks, you just do an hour of volunteer work or donate 3 bags of clothes, grab your printer (and maybe a set of golf clubs), and go. It’d be eco-friendly, free, easier for the cleaning people, cheaper for the university, better for the community - who would likely recieve MORE donations as a result of increased volunteer participation - and, best of all, it’d be superfun. Two words: Treasure Hunting.

People have somehow taken it into their mind that buying new things is better; 'cleaner'. Believe that if you will, but if the difference between free jeans and $100 jeans is the difference between five minutes of machine washing and five-ten hours of work, I fail to see how the expensive one is better. Besides, is a brand new pair of pesticide releasing, water contaminating, child slave exploiting, planet raping cotton jeans really that much cleaner...? If you ask me, creating more waste is the dirtiest thing a person can possibly do.
But that's just me.


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