Editorial: CVRD should bring back free stores

The free stores are an excellent way to recycle a whole host of household items

The CVRD is considering reopening its Free Stores at a number of its recycling centres, including including the one at Bings Creek (pictured), which have been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Citizen file photo)

The CVRD is considering reopening its Free Stores at a number of its recycling centres, including including the one at Bings Creek (pictured), which have been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Citizen file photo)

Bring back the free stores!

One of the things closed during the pandemic that has not yet reopened are the free stores at Cowichan Valley’s transfer stations.

For those who don’t know, the free stores were a place designated at the transfer stations where people could bring everything from used-but-still-decent furniture, to pots and pans, small appliances, and hardware, so that other people who could get use out of these items could browse through them and take them home for free.

The free stores are an excellent way to recycle a whole host of household items. Many people throw away things that, while not in perfect condition, still have life left in them. Maybe they are in too rough shape to take to a thrift store (they tend to be fairly discerning about the amount of wear on items because things that are too shabby are unlikely to sell), but are still useful. Maybe nobody would pay for them, but for free they’ll take them home and either try to repair them, or use them as-is.

It is also all too common for people to trash perfectly good items, just because they’ve gotten a newer model or simply don’t want them anymore. We are a world awash in cheap consumer goods that are often more expensive to repair than to replace (we also desperately need to bring in laws about the right to repair, but that’s another editorial).

How many people have driven along the road during the spring and seen numerous outdoor table and chair sets, for example, put out at the end of someone’s driveway, simply for someone to come along and take them away? Many such things also get taken to the transfer station. It is far preferable for these items to be put into a free store than for them to go into the already bulging garbage bins.

But since the pandemic there has been no choice. It only made sense to close the free stores when COVID-19 hit, as there was no way to sanitize items. But now that things are returning to normal, the free stores should be reopened.

Yes, people need to first reduce how much stuff they’re buying if we are to get a handle on the environmental crises we are facing. That will reduce how much stuff is being brought to the transfer station and how much goes to the landfill. But re-using and repurposing both our own things and things other people have finished using is also an important component.

Plus, it’s just fun to pick through other people’s things. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and you never know what you might find.

Editorials