Trees, toilet seats and a curious chicken: it’s the Sustainable Witney swap shop!

October 27th, 2014 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »
man with box containing Christmas tree, smiling

The Christmas tree awaits weighing

A Christmas tree, a toilet seat, a Mothercare buggy…no, it’s not the conveyor belt on The Generation Game, it’s the Sustainable Witney swap shop! The idea behind these events is to get unused items out of cupboards, attics and sheds so they can find a new home rather than ending up in the bin. Over the years we’ve been running these swap shops, it’s been proved again and again that one person’s junk is another person’s useful find. Something that you might hesitate to give to a charity shop is snatched up enthusiastically by someone who knows just what they can do with it…while you grab something that will be just perfect once you’ve cleaned it up a bit.

As a sustainability organisation, our biggest goal for the swap shops we run is to divert as many items as possible from landfill – although there will always be a small proportion of items that really can’t be rehomed or recycled. We calculate our success by weighing all the items as they come in and then weighing the “landfill” pile at the end. The October 2014 took in 552kg of items, of which only 4kg (less than 1%) went to landfill.

Jade plants in a box

This is what 11kg of jade plants looks like

One of the best things about our swap shops is the stories. We love it when people tell us the background to unusual items, or tell us what they’re going to do with the things they’ve just found.

One of our donations this time round was a big bag full of jade plants, weighing 11kg in total. Julie from Oxford took one, explaining: “This is going in my bathroom. They’re also called money plants, so maybe it’ll bring some wealth into my life – I’m broke at the moment!” She had turned up at the swap shop with a baby changing mat, no longer needed by her but quickly taken by another family.

Meanwhile, two children who’d come along with their grandparents were pleased with their finds. Lucy was delighted to find a vintage tea tin to store things in, while Olly was happy to find some “crafty” items so he can pursue his hobby of making jewellery.

Chicken pecking on barn floor

The curious chicken

Another important measure of success for us is attendance. We want plenty of people to come to our events and feel involved with Sustainable Witney. This swap shop was held in a great location: a big barn at Cogges Farm opening onto the Langdale Common path into town, which meant plenty of people dropping in on the walk past. Our greeter counted 107 people in total. The Cogges Farm location also meant that we got a visit from a curious chicken! (No, we didn’t try to weigh her!)

And that Christmas tree? Brigitte, the original owner, brought it along after 20 years’ faithful service. Despite its age, it was taken so fast that nobody saw it leave the building.

To find out about future Sustainable Witney events you can subscribe to this blog by entering your details into the form provided: Registration Form. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter. And we’re always looking for new volunteers, of all ages and experience levels. It took 16 of us to run yesterday’s swap shop – could you be one of the people helping out next time?


1 comment

  1. becky says:

    Amazing what the people of Witney have in their lofts. Really glad it went well :)

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