Great Exchange turns trash into treasure
By Anne O’Connor
Nashoba Valley Voice
Posted:Tue Sep 26 10:29:22 MDT 2017
DEVENS — Savvy bargain hunters knew to arrive early; a line formed before the doors opened.
The Great Exchange turns the trash of one business into the treasure of another. Nonprofit groups score too.
The donated space in the cellar underneath the MassDevelopment offices was filled with shelves, boxes and assembled furniture on Sept. 20. All of the goods were kindly-used or brand new.
The room was a cornucopia of stuff. Plastic bottles and jars, binders and even toilet paper was there for the taking, just about anything except electronics or hazardous goods.
The exchange is part of helping organizations make better use of resources, the mission of the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.
Since 2009, when the first exchange took place, over 400 tons of material have been diverted from landfills, said Executive Director Dona Neely. She estimates close to $500,000 in savings for the more than 225 institutions from 27 area communities that give or take at The Great Exchange.
Businesses save at two ends, she said. They reduce disposal costs when recycling and can reduce purchase cost by taking what they need.
Members of the nonprofit organization can fill boxes during several-times-a-year event or get larger items by making a donation. The suggested amount is usually less than 50 percent of the value.
Non-members can join for the day. Only businesses and non-profit groups qualify and they do not need to be located in Devens.
The swap is held several times a year, now that there is a place to store the goods that Neely collects from businesses. It began as a one-time deal, a get-together with member businesses with clean things to discard and non-profit groups that could use those
This fall, food service-sized jugs from a manufacturer that left the area will find new purpose. Chairs from a cleaned-out conference room will provide seating for another group.
Katie Ferreira filled boxes with things that can be used for craft projects and with office supplies for the Guild of St. Agnes.
The family childcare coordinator who also runs the school-age program said she was getting a lot of everything.
The planned maker spaces at Lowell’s middle schools will benefit. The wide assortment of things “gets your creative juices flowing,” said Patty Myers, the STEM coordinator for the district.
“It’s been great,” she said. The September 2017 exchange was the third time she hunted for treasures at the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.
The early to arrive were wise. Within an hour, some of the shelves that had been filled were nearly empty, Neely said.
“Hold” signs decorated chairs and cabinets.
The Devens Eco-Efficiency Center provides educational programs, technical assistance, networking venues and partnership opportunities to help establishments protect natural, material, human, and capital resources.
For more information visit: https://devensecoefficiencycenter.wordpress.com
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.