Undeck your halls, mindfully: Edmonton companies hope vacation spirit carries ahead

It can be tempting to ditch the old and revel in the new as the new year approaches, but Edmonton agencies that rely on donations and advocate for reducing waste are hopeful people will think twice before filling their garbage bins with the remnants of Christmas cheer.

Stuffing black bins full of wrapping paper, gift boxes and packaging might seem like the easiest way to undeck one’s halls, but a lot of that festive detritus can be recycled or can get a new life at the city’s Reuse Centre.

“We’re here really to divert waste from landfill,” said Kristin Arnot, Reuse Center supervisor.

Reuse Center supervisor Kristen Arnot hopes Edmontonians will think twice before throwing away holiday waste that could be recycled or reused. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

Arnot said the Reuse Center tries not to compete with other donation-based organizations in the city by taking on items that would otherwise go in the trash, like broken Christmas lights, bows and ribbons and even some types of Styrofoam packaging.

Arnott said residents should check the WasteWise app to see what can be recycled, taken to an Eco Station or brought to the Reuse Centre.

Finding a new home for furniture

If the pending new year has inspired someone to get rid of unwanted household stuff, a local organization that supports housing is happy to take in items that are still useable.

Find Edmonton accepts donations of furniture and other home goods, and helps set up homes for people transitioning out of homelessness through the Housing First program.

A woman wearing a scarf and toque points a table with many toques on it.Find Edmonton marketing and donations co-ordinator Janine Tremblay says her organization is in need of donations to help furnish homes for people transitioning out of homelessness. (Janine Tremblay)

Demand has been high – they’re setting up an average of 12 new homes a day, according to Janine Tremblay, Find’s marketing and donations co-ordinator.

“We’re just really struggling to keep up with demand for that right now, donation levels are quite low, and we’re just really wanting to give everybody what they need to be successful in their housing journey,” Tremblay said.

The top essential items Find needs are couches and loveseats, kitchen tables and chairs, dresses and TV stands. There’s also a lot of need for kitchen supplies, like pots and pans.

But Tremblay is up for taking all kinds of stuff that people are looking to get out of their homes.

To support its operations, find also runs a thrift store for the public, selling items that don’t work for the housing program, and everything from tchotchkes to fitness equipment.

If find can’t sell it, Tremblay said they work with partner organizations to find a use for it to keep it out of landfills.

There’s a full list on Find’s website about what is and isn’t accepted.

“If you’ve got donations, we definitely want to see them,” she said.

Food Bank demand ‘astronomical’

Another organization counting on Edmontonians’ giving spirit carrying past the holiday season is Edmonton’s Food Bank.

As of Dec 23, the food bank had reached 70 per cent of its food donation goal and 80 per cent of its monetary goal for the season, said Tamisan Bencz-Knight, the food bank’s manager of strategic relationships and partnerships.

“Unfortunately, the need is outstripping the resources that we have in our warehouse at this time, and we don’t know what 2023 is going to bring other than more large volumes of people. But I think Edmontonians will serve up hope to us and help us out,” Bencz Knight.

Tamisan Bencz-Knight, Edmonton’s Food Bank spokesperson, says the food bank is hoping donations continue past the holiday season. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

She said these days, the food bank is serving 30,000 people through hampers – and that doesn’t include its other programs. She described the demand as “astronomical.”

Bencz-Knight said the community has already been incredibly generous, but she hopes people who are able to will consider making regular donations, continuing to drop off non-perishables in collection bins at the grocery store or even becoming a volunteer.

The food bank is continuing to collect donations towards its holiday goals until Jan 6.

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