December 9th, 2010 by Richard Lord
Rosie Dorey’s letter published in The Guernsey Press on 4 December called for Guernsey to have a Community Repair and Reuse facility. This coincided with Mrs. Green of My Zero Waste website writing “all I want for Christmas is a community reuse centre.”
Mrs. Green wrote “I’d like to create a ‘real life’ place where people could take items they no longer want, which could be useful to someone else.”
Mrs. Green echoed Rosie Dorey’s sentiments by writing “I’d like there to be a ‘drop in’ cafe on site; where locals could catch up with one another and perhaps tuck into home made cakes and other local food whilst forming meaningful relationships. It would be a community reuse centre where people can either take things for free or leave a donation.”
Around our island, skips fill-up with unwanted household items that have value to someone else. Some items are in mint condition and others need restoration or repair. These could go to an attractive and welcoming community reuse and repair centre that would draw people to it to recover useful items that would otherwise be damaged and end up as waste.
There is tremendous value in the waste stream; a community reuse and repair facility could salvage that value. To illustrate how valuable the waste stream is in western society, when Ted Botha, a South African moved to New York City, he decorated his apartment with furniture found on the street. When he discovered that lots of people did this he wrote a book, Mongo, Adventures in Trash, about the collectors he met. One collector had “built one of the most extensive rare book collections in New York City” from the books he found in people’s rubbish.
Guernsey can aim to be a Zero Waste community. An attractive community repair and reuse centre run as a social enterprise to house all the valuables thrown out through over-consumption or changing tastes can help us towards that goal.
This facility could be a magnet for socialising and sharing, and education and training through the repair facility. Such a facility could be an iconic building that attracts people for its architecture as well as its functionality, and it could be constructed in part from locally sourced building material and construction material that may have been destined for the waste stream such as tires, cans, and bottles used in the construction of earthships.
Salvaging good quality material from a community reuse and repair facility is a lot more civilised than jumping into a refuse skip to retrieve something that is too good to pass by.
Guernsey households throw away a great quantity of valuable material every year. A community reuse and repair facility run as a social enterprise would do a good job of recovering that value and making it available to the people of Guernsey.