Reduce, reuse, recycle — at least, that’s how the system is supposed to work. And the Regional District of East Kootenay has devised a Reuse Centre model that has enabled the second part of the often-heard slogan to become more enhanced in the local area.
For the better part of a decade, the RDEK has been running a Reuse Centre, also known as the Windermere Walmart, at the local Windermere Landfill where people can donate items that they no longer use — but are still functional — to be reused by others. Furniture, appliances and other goods slotted to be thrown away can be given new life in an effort to eliminate waste. The thinking is simple: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Across the country, programs like this could go a long way to improve the current landfill statistics. On an annual basis, Canadians generate approximately 31 million tons of garbage per year while recycling only about 30 per cent of that. That means that each person generates nearly 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds) of garbage per day.
Kevin Patterson, the environmental services manager for the regional district, said projects like this are integral to shifting today’s culture away from consumerism in Western society.
“The benefit being that it’s one less item that we have to bury or take up space in the landfill,” he said. “We need to instill that mindset within our public in general in terms of less stuff and reusing what you’ve got, sharing it with your neighbours, sharing it with your friends or giving it to someone who might need it.”
The Windermere Landfill isn’t alone in these Reuse Centres, said Patterson. There are a number of these facilities throughout the province and even a few others in the East Kootenay in places such as Cranbrook, Fernie and Kimberley. He said the Windermere facility has actually experienced relative success compared to other facilities where people have abused them because the products being dropped off aren’t vetted for proper use.
While the facility takes a number of items that can be reused without problems, they don’t accept goods such as mattresses and used clothing to avoid health concerns. Patterson said that despite the value that these facilities bring to the area, the items being reused are “last-use” items with the sole intention of not having to bury them right away in the landfill.
“Really, people have to understand that it is the end of the road for those items and we would encourage them to do that trading or giving away in the community before coming to us if they can,” he said.
Patterson said the regional district will continue to operate Reuse Centres across the region as long as both the community enjoys it and they continue to be a relatively self-managed program.
At the end of the day, Patterson said, if they can reduce waste, they’ve done their job.
The Windermere Landfill is located at 1875 Windermere Loop Road. Call 250-342-0381 for hours of operation.