Maple Ridge initiative to provide free clothing and more on Earth Day

people going through items at the Freecycle
Gently used items including clothing is donated for this event every year/Photo Supplied

In the wake of historic inflation, what if there was a way to buy things for free?

That is the concept of Freecycle, an initiative by the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society for Earth Day celebrations.

Through Freecycle, residents have the opportunity to choose from a variety of clothing, toys, books and wearable sports equipment.

Read: Earth Day 2022 in Ridge Meadows

Launched roughly 13 years ago, the idea came out of a need to keep items out of the landfill and encourage people to recycle and reuse.

“We’re helping, giving back, and reusing things that would maybe end up in the landfill. It’s just really positive, the whole day is amazing,” said Laetisha Biles, coordinator of Freecycle.

Donations come from not only community members but daycares and schools that have unclaimed lost and found items to give away. The St. Paul’s Church also donates to the initiative.

Their motto is, “If one person can carry it out, we accept it.”

When asked how many donations they receive, Leanne Koehn, community engagement coordinator for RMRS, said they measure the number of donations by minivan loads.

When they first launched, they would have three minivans filled with donations and now, they have nearly five. At the end of the day, whatever is left is donated to the Ridge Meadows Hospice Thrift Store.

Last year, they loaded a trailer, truck and a van full of donations, according to Biles.

“People are kind of shocked when they don’t have to pay anything for it. And then you’ve got the people that know about it and they bring their wagons right there to get some good deals,” she said.

However, they don’t collect donations year-round.

The initiative is specifically for Earth Day so they start collections in January and continue till the day before the event which is Friday, April 21 this year.

Freecycle goes digital

man looking at books at Freecycle event
A glimpse into last year’s Freecycle event/Photo Supplied

Just like many other businesses and programs, the pandemic pushed them to think differently after Earth Day 2020 was cancelled. Since they had already started collecting donations, they wanted to make sure they were rehomed.

That’s when they launched Earth Day Freecycle, a Facebook group where community members could request an item and if available, could arrange a pickup. Despite the return to in-person activities, the group is still active.

“I know what it’s like, you’re trying to save money, you’re trying to find good deals and doing everything you can to save. And I love a good deal . . . so this just really appealed to me on a lot of levels,” said Biles on why she joined the initiative.

She shared some instances when people in need stopped by the booth.

“We’ve got people who come in and they don’t have shoes, we’ve had people walk by when we’re sorting things and they’re looking for shoes so we give it to them. Last year we had two sisters come in and they had seven kids between the two. And so they’re trying to clothe children and [looking for] toys and all that so, it’s just a feel-good event.”

If anyone is interested in donating, they can drop off items on Friday, April 21 outside the ACT Arts Centre from 5 to 7 p.m. and contact Biles at [email protected] for more information.

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