By Christa Mustard –
You already know some of the benefits of using Share Sheds: donating reduces the amount of waste in our landfills, and taking items home can save you money. Here are a few other benefits you might not have considered.
When you donate, you’re directly helping people in your own community, promoting goodwill and a standard of living that some of your neighbours might not be able to otherwise achieve. On the coldest day in December, I met a gentleman who was understandably grateful to find a pair of wool socks—not grateful to a corporation or a manufacturer, but to a fellow Williams Lake resident. And whoever left the Canucks mittens at the Wildwood Share Shed is my hero and is keeping my hands warm. Thank you.
Share Sheds help keep the resources of Cariboo residents among Cariboo residents. On a smaller economic scale than most of us think about, when you give and take from Share Sheds they become anonymous trading posts, bypassing corporations (and even money) entirely. Trading directly with each other is more efficient than receiving a pay check from one company and giving it to another company, because none of the value is lost in corporate profit, packaging, or advertising.
You may think that there’s no personal benefit to donation, and that you should have a yard sale instead to regain some of your costs. Of course there’s a benefit – pick out anything else you like! A lady I met last week was returning her daughter’s outgrown winter boots to exchange them for a larger pair. And after this season I might be trading in my Canucks jersey for a Leafs jersey (just kidding). But for the cost of a little laundry soap, I get to pick out as many new outfits as I want from an infinite wardrobe, wear them until I’m tired of them, and return them washed and mended to choose something new. Same thing with furniture – bring it home, fix it up, and bring it back when you find something more suitable. I overheard a lady telling her son, “It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit; the return policy here is great.”
Share Shed use is also perfect for those who move around a lot, lack storage space, or enjoy an adventurous lifestyle. When I left the Cariboo nine years ago to go rampaging across the continent, I donated everything I owned rather than pack it around. I got back a few months ago with just a backpack, and have furnished my entire apartment from the Share Shed: all of my furniture and dishes, most of my clothes, even the coffee-maker. I think I might’ve gotten my same old dresser back. And it’ll all end up back at the Share Shed when I go on my next adventure.
The most common argument I’ve heard against bringing things home from the Share Shed is that they’re dirty, and that it’s better and easier to just buy things new. Absolutely, some things should be bought in a store. But all of the containers in my apartment, from the garbage cans to the plant pots, are recycled from the Share Shed and made from metal or wood; reducing the amount of plastic that has to be commercially produced keeps the world cleaner. None of us started out trading our pay checks at box stores for clothes, toys, and tools packaged in polypropylene and manufactured in Indonesia. We all started out playing in the dirt, finding and creating our own treasures, and sharing with each other.
Please respect Share Shed sites, posted rules, and hard-working attendants. You can find more information about Share Shed locations and etiquette on the CRD website at www.cariboord.ca/services/solid-waste-management/swm-overview.
Christa Mustard is a nomadic advocate for a subsistence-level peasant lifestyle. She’s passionate about foraging, recycling, and the barter system, and will welcome any comments you’d like to send to firstname.lastname@example.org.