The larger thrift store charities take the easiest route when disposing of materials that are stained, soiled or needing repairs. Textiles, for example, may go to rag dealers or companies that bale and send the sub-standard clothing and textiles overseas.
Other countries are now starting to refuse admission to any of our "waste", but still we consume too much. China is refusing to take our unwanted materials in 2018, countries in West Africa are banning the import of textiles in 2019
There are many organizations and individuals in Toronto who have been teaching classes and workshops in reuse, repairs and creativity through different methods, in different locations throughout the City. Some of these organizations move from one neighbourhood to another with their workshops.
The approach so far has been scattered and the logistics of constantly having to move and gather equipment and supplies, and find suitable locations for events and teaching has been complex and is not sustainable by volunteers who donate their time for these projects. Burnout rates are high. The logistics are far too complex.
Finding appropriate materials for creative reuse projects - as professionals, hobbyists, charitable craft programs, or new learners requires a complicated and time-consuming search through social media and websites, garage sales and thrift stores and other places. There is no single place to go where you can get almost everything you need for a project. This discourages reuse and the shift to a local sharing economy.
People who are disabled or do not have vehicle access are often left out of this process entirely, as are many nencomers who are unfamiliar with the City, and with the current scattered process.
Small charities often find themselves overwhelmed by donations of materials, including items and materials that are inappropriate for their programs. They have little or no storage space, so donations are turned down, or the charity or not-for-profit is left to deal with disposal or dispersal of the unwanted donations.
Artist studio spaces are rapidly disappearing because of development and gentrification. Rents and housing and workspace prices are now too costly for many small entrepreneurs, designers and artists. They are moving their studios into their homes or shared studio spaces, but these spaces have little storage room for the creative projects and equipment.
Community space is at a premium and often booked so heavily that it is hard to find space for a class that is affordable. As a result classes become too expensive for many people to attend.
It simply makes sense to have one location that can deal appropriately with sorting donations and selling them on a cost-recovery basis. The economy of scale would allow appropriate safety measures and training for staff and volunteers doing the sorting.
We need to think of a creative reuse centre as a communal storehouse and store, a place to learn and share our knowledge of creativity, environment, skills; a place to meet and connect with others in the community; a place to go and purchase what we need on a project by project basis; and a place we can take those extra bits and pieces that are too valuable to go in the landfill, but that we no longer need.
A creative reuse centre will help all of us change our perception of waste and see materials as resources instead.