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Raven Recycling to close free store

Raven Recycling will close the doors on its community free store on May 8.

Raven Recycling will close the doors on its community free store on May 8.

The Raven free store had seen the volume of donations coming in “creeping up over the course of years,” said Joy Snyder, executive director of the Raven Recycling Society.

They have seen a dramatic increase, she said, since April 2016, when the Whitehorse landfill closed its reuse store after finding a used needle in a donation left onsite. With the closure of the Salvation Army thrift store last month, Snyder said Raven “knew what was coming.”

“It was a big job,” said Snyder. “We just thought ‘this is crazy.’”

Snyder said the volume of donations was so great that it took two people four hours per day just to organize everything coming in. This meant things were only on display for people to take home for a day or two, because there wasn’t enough space to house it all and things had to be thrown away or recycled almost immediately to make room for the next day’s tide of donations.

“It was just too much,” Snyder said.

Snyder said she started the free store herself in 1992 with “just one humble shelf.”

“I feel very sad…. I started the free store and it really had a piece of my heart…. But it had to go,” she said.

The free store had a special place both among the staff and the community, she said.

“We get to recycle (at Raven) but to reduce and reuse is even better.”

Raven Recycling will still be accepting textiles, such as used clothes, but they won’t be available to public to take away as they have been in the past. Raven has a market for these products to recycle down south, said Snyder.

The Yukon Community Development Fund recently granted Raven Recycling $20,000 to do research and collect data on the free store, to see what was coming in and out and how much of it was actually used. Snyder said Raven has reworked the grant and will be using the money to hire someone to work as a kind of community liaison officer. The person will work for four months, focusing on promoting Zero Waste Yukon events and building community relationships.

Snyder said there are still many options for people to continue with the initiative. There is a flea market starting in Whitehorse on May 6, she said, and the City of Whitehorse is holding its annual Tag n’ Take event May 13-14. There are also many garage sales which happen over the course of the summer and Zero Waste Yukon has a reuse and repair fair set for June 3.

“Yukoners are really self-reliant and we already had a reuse culture. Maybe this (closure) will provide an opportunity for for some business or nonprofit to open a real free store, with the space to do it,” said Snyder. “I don’t know what will happen (after this) but I know something will happen.”

Contact Lori Garrison at