An amazingly successful Re-Use It store on Bowen Island is giving back to the community while diverting waste from the landfill. And with each knick knack sold, their long-time goal to build a composting facility is making headway.
Bowen Island is one of the 21 municipalities and one treaty First Nation in Metro Vancouver committed to diverting 80 percent of waste from landfill by 2020. Bowen residents are so committed to recycling that the Knick Knack Nook is one of the busiest stores on the Island.
Mary Ellen deGrace is a founding member of the Knick Knack Nook Re-Use-It Store Society. “Our purpose is to be a welcoming place for the community to come in and purchase items at a nominal charge and our goal is to keep items out of the landfill,” she said.
Revenues from the start smashed expectations. “The first year we raised approximately 50 thousand dollars, the second 60 thousand, then 70 thousand and expected revenues for the coming year is 100 thousand,” said deGrace. “And this is from the sale of items at 25 or 50 cents. Clothing is 3 to 6 dollars an item. So it’s pretty amazing, the volume that goes through here.”
Fifty volunteers manage donated items, stock shelves, distribute donations to organizations throughout Metro Vancouver, or put things aside for special events such as silent auctions that benefit other not for profit agencies on Bowen.
Re-Use-It Store Gives Back
Bowen resident Laura Quilici describes an annual event that makes the Knick Knack Nook a treasure in the community. “Every Christmas they shut down the Nook from everyone except for children, 12 years and under,” she said. “And they have volunteers that help the kids pick presents for their family.” Quilici’s daughter, Lola, was able to buy all her Christmas presents for eleven dollars.
The success of the Knick Knack Nook enables its operating society to return funds to the community through environmental grants and scholarships. Thirty-six thousand dollars was donated to purchase two recycling compactors, which has reduced trips by recycling trucks off the Island by 50 percent.
Partners in Diverting Waste
The Bowen Island Municipality is a key supporter. “The Municipality supports the store in a number of ways. The land that it’s on is municipal land as is the Bowen Island Recycling Depot,” said Councillor Maureen Nicholson. The two groups and others joined forces to explore the feasibility and possible sites for an on-island composting facility. “We want to get away from shipping our organic waste off-island,” she said. Council established an On-Island Composting Facility Working Group to advise and work towards the development of the facility.
From its opening in 2009, not only has the Knick Knack Nook diverted large amounts of items from the landfill, Mary Ellen deGrace feels it has become an important part of Bowen life. “People gather, share stories with friends, and it’s really a great place to volunteer and come in and purchase what you need…or don’t need.”
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