When you live on an island you’re aware that everything that comes here must leave the same way – that is, by ferry (or occasionally, by float plane).
We’re fortunate as gulf island residents that we also have garbage pick up (alternating biweekly pick up for 1 can/garbage or blue box, weekly green bin) but we have no way of getting rid of big garbage or unwanted, but useable items, without taking them off island. That all changed, when in 1991, the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization (GIRO) opened a depot to divert things from the landfill. They operate as a self-funded non-profit generating income from the sale of clothing and household goods, metal, paper and recyclables. Their motto is: ‘Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Good advice for us all.
GIRO has expanded over the years: more staff (currently one full-time and six part-time), more services and more infrastructure. When Jan & I moved here in 2000 GIRO was housed in one building: the Re-store on one side and recyclables on the other. We’ve now got a new purpose built Re-store which takes in donated clothes, housewares, books, tools, toys, furniture and electronics and sells them at low cost. There is an outside area with metal roofing, gutters, PVC, windows and doors and garden supplies.
The recycle area accepts paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, light bulbs, paint, spray cans, batteries and propane canisters. Most of it gets recycled, but some things like egg cartons, moving boxes, bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts are free for the taking.
They’re only open Wednesdays and Saturday 9:30am – 4pm so it’s on our weekly to-do list for many of us. As you can imagine it’s a hopping place with lineups to get into the parking lot and at the cashier desk. I take my blue bin weekly (we also have curbside pick up but I like to support GIRO as they make money on what we bring) and look for good finds.
As a chicken keeper, I’ve made some good scores: waterers and feeders, dog crates, PVC to make DIY feeders, hardware, windows and gates for coop renos. It’s where I get my egg cartons, boxes and bubble wrap for transporting birds and hatching eggs.
I had a chicken friend who came over to visit me monthly and the highlight was checking out GIRO not once, but twice – when she first arrived and just before she left. (You never know what new stuff might have just come in). She got all kinds of things for her chickens and often had to cram it all in just to get her car closed. GIRO is a hit with visitors and tourists, which makes for even more traffic in the summer months.
If you’ve got a recycling centre near you check out what they’ve got. You might end up with a treasure.