Friday, 24 July 2015

Reuse on Campus

Reuse on Campus
The sustainability group, which is part of the Student’s Union at the University of Alberta sure has its work cut out for it when it comes to reuse. The campus is huge, hosting about 40,000 students each year, in addition to faculty members and support staff. Sustain SU is doing a great job of promoting environmentalism at the University, by launching several projects that are successfully encouraging reuse and sustainability among students.
The Student’s Union Building (SUB) is one of the main eating, shopping and study areas on campus. The building is home to a food court, various student services, Room at the Top restaurant and bar, and the U of A Bookstore.
Source: University of Alberta Student's Union
In response to the high volumes of waste produced by the students and staff passing through, Sustain SU created the Reusable Dish Program. It allows students and staff to use the provided dishes for free and also receive a $0.25 “dishcount” on their meals at participating vendors on campus. The dishes are picked up from L’Express in the food court and returned to the waste station in SUB. The program also rents out the reusable dishes to groups on campus that may be hosting an event. Talk about promoting reuse!
In addition to this program, the Student’s Union also operates SUBtitles, a consignment store that deals in used textbooks. This store is a great outlet for students who would like to get a portion of their money back by selling their used books, while others can find books they need at a reduced price. It is a great way to ensure that these books will continue to be used instead of collecting dust or being thrown out.
The dormitories are also active in promoting reuse. Residents at Lister Hall created a Facebook page that allows members to buy, lend, or sell unwanted or extra items that other residents might use. Lots of different items may be posted, from textbooks and dorm furniture to clothes and electronics. What a great way to keep the community thinking of reuse while living on campus!
We can’t wait to hear about other great reuse-friendly projects from the University of Alberta in the future! Does your school or workplace promote reuse in creative ways? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Celebrating 1st Year at our New Location!

This July, the Reuse Centre celebrates its one year anniversary since moving to its new location from the old downtown store. This was a big move for the store, and a much welcomed improvement. The new store is much larger, with plenty of natural light coming from the south facing windows, which brightens the whole building and creates a pleasant shopping experience for our customers. Compared to the downtown store, the new location also offers much more parking space for customers shopping or donating items.
We have received lots of positive feedback from staff, volunteers and especially customers since relocating. When accepting donations, the staff finds the larger area much more convenient to sort items and organize stock. Volunteers also appreciate the new space which has more room for sorting and more shelf space for the bins.
Over the past year, the customers have enthusiastically welcomed us into the new area. They have expressed great satisfaction with the new space, parking lot, and the Reuse Centre's expanded list of accepted items. Being situated in a residential, but still relatively central, area of the city, the centre is able to expand its goal of community outreach by being able to connect with more citizens.

In the future, we also hope to host in-house reuse workshops, programs, and reuse-related community functions within the new boardroom space. The Centre also hopes to be able to promote reuse in the city through building and developing partnerships in the community.

Our customer visits and amount of donated materials have increased since the move. Each month, we have been accepting about 19.5 tons of donations compared to about 12 tonnes per month downtown. At the downtown location, there were 9,062 total customers from January to June, while this year there has been 13,939 customers at the new location (Figure 1). In 2014, the Reuse Centre received about 69 tons of donations from January to June, compared to about 116 tons we have received so far this year (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Graphs showing the increase in the number of customers and the weight of donations coming to the Reuse Centre from 2014 to 2015 for the months of January to June.

If you have not been to our new location yet, be sure to stop by and see the new space for yourself. We have plenty to offer for your next reuse adventure!

- Lynnette (Staff)

Monday, 13 July 2015

Reusing is Elementary!

This spring, I was lucky enough to get to go to the first official convention for BBC's tv series, Sherlock. 

I spent two and a half days with two friends (and about 6,000 other fans) at London's ExCel Convention Centre. There was a lot to see and do, including getting up close and personal with most of the cast and crew (see the final picture for proof!).

One of my favourite parts of the weekend was learning more about the work of production designer Arwel Wyn Jones. He and his team create the look of the show, including the decor of 221B Baker Street. 

Arwel and his team made a lot of props for this modern version of Sherlock Holmes' famous address. They also used new items, found objects and charity shop treasures. Some antiques do appear, along with carefully selected "junk." It's all set in a flat designed to look like it was last decorated some time in the 1960s. 

If you've ever watched the show, you'll know that Sherlock's flat has a lot going on. Every item tells us something about him. For instance, there is a copy of Faust in the original German language on the bookshelves. Some German fans donated it, because that is how Sherlock Holmes (in the original stories) would have read Faust. Sherlock is a graduate chemist and loves to experiment, so there is a lot of science equipment. That probably explains the various specimens, too. And because of the work Sherlock does, there are weapons, skulls and blood spatter reference charts. 221B is as cluttered with things as Sherlock's mind is with facts. Everything seems random, but (as Sherlock would insist) it is all exactly where it should be. 

The BBC has a reputation for limited budgets, yet Arwel and his team have given 221B Baker Street a look that is a perfect blend of vintage and modern.

My friend Keynyn (right) and I take our seats in the used chairs that Sherlock and John usually sit in.
Pro Tip: Dr. John Watson's favourite armchair is REALLY uncomfortable (it's broken in a few places),
but apparently Martin Freeman doesn't mind. 
As I looked at all the set pieces and props on display at the convention, it struck me that Arwel would have a lot of fun at the Reuse Centre! Our blog has recently featured ideas for interior decorating samples, and Arwel has a fondness for old wallpapers and tiles. I don't imagine anyone here in Edmonton will be using our items to dress the set for an Emmy-winning television production. But you never know!

Get a closer look at the 221B Baker Street set with Empire Magazine:

And here is the proof that I met Benedict Cumberbatch! If you are a fan, well, you have
every reason to be--he is a real gentleman.

- RuthAnn (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How to Support Your Community and Fill Your Book Shelves at the Same Time!

One of my favourite things to do during the summer is to take in one of the Edmonton Public Library's seasonal book sales, hosted about four times a year at the Stanley A. Milner Branch, in the basement that you probably didn't know existed. These three-day sales feature some of the library's excess books, CDs, and DVDs at absolutely bargain prices. Even better than snagging a literary classic for $1 is the knowledge that my dollar goes to fund the library's literacy vans and Welcome Baby reading program. The latest Books2Buy sale raised $32,000 for these community services!

A visit to the library book sale has become a tradition for me and my bookish friends, and none of us ever leaves empty- handed. There's always a great mix of classic and contemporary items on offer,  almost all of which are exclusively in great condition. In past visits, I've picked up everything from classics like Poe's The Raven and Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, to books on modern home design and tips for stress-free living. 

The book sale also offers a wealth of crafty books, from gardening and woodworking to knitting and scrapbooking. Basically any topic you can imagine is well represented at these events, and you'd be crazy not to come armed with your biggest reusable bags. And while the written contents of these books may prove useful for your purposes, the actual books themselves can make great crafting materials!

Artist Luciana Frigerio -

Over the years I've come across some interesting craft ideas involving the use of books, including sculptures, boxes with secret compartments, and even tablet covers. With a great selection of both paperback and hardcover books of every size and shape, you're guaranteed to find something suitable for these types of projects and more for an extremely affordable price. And don't forget, while you're stocking up on great reads or craft materials, you're also supporting the Edmonton community! I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

For more information on this book sale, including upcoming dates, hours, and pricing, check out the library's Books2Buy page!

- Nichole (Volunteer)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Broken Teacups: Finding the Silver Lining

A Blue and White Ming Charger with Kintsugi Repair
Aspire Auctions
I collect teacups. Some are collected from garage sales, others are purchased brand new.  These have cost me anywhere between $0.20-$60.00 per teacup and saucer set, but each is precious and invaluable to me, so I take extra care whenever I use them.  More than collecting teacups, I love hosting tea parties.  Guests are delighted to claim their special pattern for the afternoon, but no matter how gentle my guests are, accidents still can happen.  So to prepare myself for a broken heart and china, I learned more about repairing pottery and discovered the art of Kintsugi.  

Kintsugi at Tokyo Bike
Sequins and Cherry Blossom
Kintsugi or Kintsuguroi is a technique to mend broken pottery with a philosophy of beautifying its wear and tear rather than hiding it.  This method fills in the missing pieces and glues the broken edges together using lacquer resin with metallic dust, coloured in gold, silver, copper or bronze. Chips and tumbles are part of the life of the ware, so it aims to highlight its history while repairing it to be used once more. 

Outside of pottery, Kintsugi is so poetic. It speaks to me about growing and aging as a beautiful transformation.  It encourages me that when we go through life and have pieces of ourselves worn or cracked along the way, we are also changing and building shinier, prettier pieces of ourselves.  
We can also apply this same idea onto our favorite subject, Reuse.  Just because something is broken, it does not immediately lose its value.  Do not throw it out just yet - Stop and consider the possibilities and options you have.  Can this be repaired? Are there still workable spare parts? Would this be a good item to repurpose? Create the silver lining.

- Siao (Volunteer)