A long time ago, when I first moved to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, I soon started hearing stories about the ‘dump’. In a community where most everything had to be driven in or flown in from outside, recycling had become a fine art long before it caught on in southern Canada. People would go and pick through the discards, taking home things that they might need.
And it continued that way for a long time, even as Yellowknife grew larger and the big box stores had moved in. I remember my friend John Bayly showing up to a gathering of our writers’ group with a wonderful loaf he had baked using a pan discarded at the dump. It got more complicated as the city got more and more organized, but the human desire to scavenge didn’t go away, as far as I can tell.
So I was fascinated to read a story in the Progress Network’s first 2022 newsletter, about Stillbruch, which it called the Ikea of waste. “ Stilbruch is run by the city’s sanitation department, and instead of destroying or disposing of these throwaways, the municipal team checks and, if necessary, repairs them, before putting them on sale to the public. It touts itself as “for everyone who prefers used to new—used is the new sexy.”
Stillbruch tells people that it’s ‘easier than a flea market’. It offers thousands of used items at fixed prices under one roof in Altona. The goods come from Stadtreinigung Hamburg’s bulk waste, and from things that people bring in directly.
“The articles are viewed and checked on site,’ it says.’Often the articles are still in TOP condition. Many collector’s items are also repaired in our workshops or can be taken away cheaply as a basis for individual projects In this way, we save tons of rubbish every day and also have a large pool of items that go far beyond the current ranges of established providers: This way you can stand out from the crowd and also often get your favorite item cheaply.”
Not only is it saving tons of rubbish, it pays for itself. In 2020, the turnover of its three stores was 4 million Euro, and it was financially self-supporting.
You can find pictures of some of the special items on the store’s Facebook page.
Hamburg was chosen as European Green Capital in 2011 in large part because of its sustainable waste management. “Hamburg’s Municipal Sanitation Department (Stadtreinigung Hamburg, abbreviated to SRH) sees itself as a proponent for forward-looking and sustainable recyclable resources management,” says one article.
While Hamburg is managing its waste sustainably, the popular furniture store Ikea is making its own contribution to creating a world without waste.
“Our ambition is to be circular and climate positive by 2030, and to inspire and enable the many people to live a better everyday life within the boundaries of the planet,’ Ikea says. ‘This is a huge change that impacts every aspect of what we do: from how we meet customers to what products and services we develop. It will affect our complete IKEA value chain and the sourcing of energy and materials.”
To me, it’s wonderful that companies and governmental agencies are doing their best to make it easier for all of us to do our part to create a sustainable world, where we see waste as a resource and not garbage.
Happy new year!