Students are often known for their creative approaches to decorating. Thanks to a trial recycling program in Saskatoon, this year it will be easier and cheaper than ever to get a hold of those great cheap finds.
The program, called New 2U, invites residents from certain neighbourhoods to put unwanted items on the curb on a certain day. Then residents from across the city are invited into the host neighbourhood to scan the streets for used treasures.
City of Saskatoon Ward 1 councilor Darren Hill says the idea started during a conversation with a neighbour.
“We were sitting on our front steps drinking coffee one Sunday morning and talking about how people would put stuff in our back lanes and (other) people would just take it.”
Hill said he had students in mind when he came up with New 2U.
“Students were one of the groups we identified as a stakeholder group that would be focusing on picking up the materials on the curb.”
The event is scheduled for four Saturdays in different neighbourhoods. It takes place Sept. 12 in City Park, North Park and Richmond Heights; Sept. 19 in Sutherland and Forest Grove; Oct. 17 in River Heights; and Oct. 24 in Caswell, Mayfair and Kelsey Woodlawn.
“That’s when the majority of students are back in the city and are in new accommodations and might be able to benefit from grabbing free furnishings,” said Hill.
He had heard of similar programs throughout North America and Europe, and so started doing research. It turns out these programs run into certain predictable problems, something he tried to avoid when designing New 2U.
One solution includes avoiding a city-wide exchange. Hill has personal contacts in each community and the various community associations have expressed interest in getting involved.
“We wanted to avoid bargain hunters going from Erindale and racing across the city to get the best items,” said Hill. There are a maximum of three neighbourhoods involved per day. “We get the best impact of people coming into the area to ensure the highest use of recyclable items are getting into the hands of people that need them.”
Hill warns neighbourhood residents to be aware that there will be additional traffic in the areas and to drive carefully.
There are strict restrictions on items that are acceptable and the city isn’t responsible for picking up left-over items.
“This is one of the things we found in our research,” said Hill. “If the city or another organization said they would pick up stuff not taken, people just put out garbage and use it as a tool to just get rid of anything.”
New 2U suggests participants simply return items to their homes or call 1-800-Got-Junk to pick them up at a 25 per cent discount. The waste removal company will also donate 25 per cent of the fee to the Children’s Health and Hospital Foundation and instead of taking the items to the dump, 1-800-Got-Junk will take items to Value Village or Habitat for Humanity.
Acceptable items include sporting goods, electronics, tools, household furnishings, books, toys, shoes, clothing, plants, building materials and furniture. Dangerous items such as weapons, chemicals, alcohol, drugs and tobacco products, as well as food, garbage and recyclables are prohibited.
As far as the quality of those items goes, the guidelines are less strict.
“Every individual’s standards are different,” explained Hill. “(It’s acceptable) as long as there is a perceived value as reusable.” He gives the example of a bike he inherited when he bought his new house as the type of item he expects to see on the curb.
It has taken Hill nearly three years to put the event together. He calls it “a labour of love.”
Right now, the City of Saskatoon is not involved, but Hill hopes the event runs smoothly so the city can see it as a viable program.
“My plan is that the city adopts it and makes it available through the community services branch. Local community associations would say, ”˜we would like to do this program on this day,’ and then they could co-ordinate. The (communities) themselves would determine what time of the year and when they would do it.”