The Griff

Don’t shop — swap!

Lifestyle

Don’t shop — swap!

Explore new ways to acquire or get rid of things: donate, buy second-hand, or trade 'em.

It’s almost Christmas season. That means the consumer hordes will soon be occupying every inch of the local shopping mall. Companies will begin shoving sales down customers’ throats through a glut of flashy advertisements. Generally, everything will be bought new. But you don’t have to be a part of this madness — there are so many different outlets and methods in the city for acquiring and donating items and gifts.

Clothing Swaps

I have only taken part in one clothing swap, and it was completely unplanned. Over a couple of beers and a game of Ping-Pong, a friend had told me and a group of guys that he had some excess clothes that no longer fit him. He was going to donate them to the local Value Village, but he asked if we wanted to take any of them beforehand. I grabbed a plaid shirt, a hoodie, and a couple of t-shirts. I didn’t really have much to give him in return, aside from a knitted blue toque that I never wore. Whether or not he actually used the toque is beside the point. I attained close to $50 worth of clothes for a toque.

There are also large-scale public clothing swaps, such as the Change of Clothes event held in June. A group of volunteers organized the event, which included not only a clothing swap, but also free clothes repairs for missing buttons, tears and more. Check the group’s site for updates about the next swap.

Free Libraries

Edmonton is full of places where you can drop off or pick up books. You can trade books at Wee Book Inn, and you can donate unwanted books to the library. Free libraries are one of the lesser-known options, but if you want to engage in some random reading, you should check them out.

There are several free libraries made out of repurposed newspaper boxes (the kind with a door and a coin slot) in the Oliver neighbourhood. The 10 “little free libraries” were the result of a Make Something Edmonton project completed in 2013. They are usually full of crime, romance or history books, but every now and then you can find a few gems. All you have to do is leave a book when you take a book. There is also a free library at the City Centre Campus welcome desk, and the rack was actually donated by the griff.

Donations

If you need to get rid of clothes, furniture and household items, there are many places in the city that will happily accept your donations. Value Village and Goodwill are some of the obvious places that come to mind, but there are many more. Value Village will accept just about anything (excluding upholstered furniture) and make a profit from it. Any clothes that are not sold within a certain period of time are shipped overseas to developing countries.

If you’re interested in organizations that are more charitable, there are many shelters and non-profits looking for donations. The Mustard Seed always accepts donations for people in need, and there is even a list of suggested items on their website. You would be surprised at some of common items they urgently require, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, dishes, and utensils.

Find Edmonton is also an excellent outlet for furniture donations. Find collects gently used furniture donations and works with Homeward Trust, a local non-profit organization, to give the donations to people who are getting permanent housing after experiencing homelessness. On the Find website, there is a list of accepted items, including furniture, household items and small appliances. It is quite easy to schedule a donation pick-up via email or the phone. Donations can also be dropped off at the store. For more information, check out the Find Edmonton website.

The Reuse Centre

The Reuse Centre accepts a unique array of household items made out of plastic, metal, wood, paper, cellophane, etc. If you can think of it, chances are the Reuse Centre takes it. The Reuse Centre divvies up the best products and makes them available for purchase to the public.

The Reuse Centre is a great place for random crafting materials and knick-knacks. It’s also dirt cheap. Items are sold by weight; for a flat $5 fee, you can take up to 50 kg. Plus, the staff is always more than happy to help you find the materials you need for your latest project.

The Reuse Centre recently moved from downtown to 6835 83 St.

For a full list of items accepted by the Reuse Centre, check out the website.

Eco Station

For items that are difficult to recycle, consider heading to the Eco Station.

Edmonton has four Eco Stations in different parts of the city. These waste drop-off zones are places where you can bring electronics and environmentally hazardous materials that do not belong in your trash.

There is a fee for disposing of some items at the Eco Station, but you can get rid of many items for free. There is no charge for disposing of electronics, computers and televisions. You can toss mattresses, furniture and refrigerators for as little as $12.

Like the Reuse Centre, the Eco Station has a list of accepted items online.

Tip: If you want to safely and easily dispose of items such as light bulbs, ink cartridges and batteries, there are disposal containers in the Students’ Lounge in Room 7-297, City Centre Campus.

Photos by Casey Pollon.