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Earth Day ‘drop, swap and shop’ draws hundreds who hope to make the old new again - brickworks

Earth Day ‘drop, swap and shop’ draws hundreds who hope to make the old new again

‘As long as someone thinks there’s a use for something, it will come through here,’ spokesperson says

A clarinet. Sailing equipment. Woodworking tools. A Yves Saint Laurent bag.

What do all of these items have in common? They were all up for grabs at the spring “drop, swap and shop” in Toronto on Sunday.

The Earth Day event drew some 800 people to Evergreen Brick Works to check out the 12,000 or so “gently used, clean and functional” items shoppers could chose from.

The swap hinges on a simple system: participants can drop off up to 25 items of their own. For each item, they’re given one ticket in return. Those tickets are then used as currency on the day of the event.

“The beautiful thing about having 800 people bring 25 items is that you couldn’t even begin to name all the things that we’ve had come through here. As long as someone thinks there’s a use for something, it will come through here,” said Cameron Dale, project manager for public markets at the Brick Works.

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Earth Day ‘drop, swap and shop’ draws hundreds who hope to make the old new again - dale

Cameron Dale, project manager for public markets at the Brick Works, says the popularity of the swap and shop represents a ‘resurgence’ of attitudes about reducing waste. (CBC)

The swap is in its fourth year, with events held in the spring and fall each year. The categories for items this time around include baby supplies, clothing, toys, housewares, art, sports equipment, and media and entertainment products.

According to Dale, more and more people are participating every time.

“It’s a resurgence of a trend. Traditionally, we have shared more things, but in the last 40 to 50 years we’ve become more and more wasteful,” Dale told CBC Toronto.

“And I think people are really getting back to that community sense of helping their neighbours, helping each other and helping their city.”

Earth Day ‘drop, swap and shop’ draws hundreds who hope to make the old new again - sherry

Sherry Pavolic says ‘upcycling’ goods, or finding new creative uses for them, is a common practice in places like Europe. (CBC)

Sherry Pavolic makes her living “upcycling” clothes and describes herself as a “refashionista.” She said she’s encouraged by the growing popularity of reusing all the stuff we so often throw away.

“I recently moved from Europe, and over there what I do is pretty normal. But over here I find it really is a new thing,” she explained.

“A lot more people should embrace recycling and upcycling. As I always say, ‘new to you’ is still new.”

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