Junk Swap

Tree fort made from recycled material

“We’re going junking!” Exclaimed our friend’s four year old daughter.

This is not a common term for what happens each Spring in the Thames Centre area, but it is catching on with those whom we call friends. The municipality of Thames Centre, situated in South-Western Ontario, Canada, schedules a week in early May each year to pick up large items that are not normally picked up by the sanitation crew each week. Starting from late April, when the weather is nicer, people begin to bring out all kinds of things that they deem no longer necessary for them to the curve side of their homes. One can say that the pickup dates mark the end of “Spring cleaning” for those living in the municipality of Thames Centre. 

“You won’t believe what I found today!” A neighbor said as he slowed his car down to greet me. “I found a good sofa set, and solid wood book cases!”

A group of kids were pulling a wagon loaded with all kinds of toys and books. The old saying, “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure” is definitely true here.

We took part in “junking,” too. For a few years we collected wood and playground material (slides, swings, etc.) to build a tree fort in the back yard. Although we had to buy a few things (deck screws, a few more planks of wood for support, etc.), we were able to build a solid fort with recycled material found during the “junk swap.” We also learned cross country skiing by salvaging the skis and boots one year.

We contributed, too. Toys that our kids out grew, sports equipment that we no longer used, flower pots, and anything else that we could no longer use, but others could, we put it out on the curve. And, of course, whenever we saw someone come and picked those up, we cheered and celebrated. We love seeing our “junk” find a good home!

Although we are not what people would label as “environmentalists,” we are glad for the culture of our “neck of the woods,” in doing what we can to reduce the amount of landfill junk by salvaging and reusing things that still have shelf life.

This culture of “junk swap” is one that we are thankful for, and hope that other municipalities can adopt in their own strategy to reduce waste. In a “disposable” economy, where it is almost cheaper to buy a new printer with cartridge, than to buy replacement ink cartridges (check out the prices), little acts like these help.

An added benefit is to see those little kids learn to celebrate what they have found by going “junking.” For some of them, they are learning the benefits of recycling through experience.

Junk swap is a part of the culture that we have come to appreciate and embrace here, in our neck of the woods. What unique culture do you have in your neck of the woods?

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