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‘Free store’ at transfer station is a great idea

June 28, 2019
Editorial ( , Lake Placid News

The town of Lake George is trying something new to reuse what is not so new. It would be a good idea for the Tri-Lakes area, too.

Lake George is starting a "free store" at its dump - OK, its garbage transfer station and recycling center - where people can leave items they need to get rid of but which others might like. It's supposed to be all self-service, with no cost charged for any of the items, no staff to maintain it and no cost to the taxpayers. In fact, it might save the taxpayers money since there would be less garbage to ship away.

The Lake George town board approved the idea in mid May and has since secured a quaint little shed to spruce up and use to house the "free store," according to Sun Community News. The town is basing it on the long-established Reuse Center in the nearby town of Chester, which Sun describes as having "all sorts of gently used or new household goods, furniture, toys, small and large home appliances, sporting goods and some tools. Most all the items are sorted and arranged on shelves, and clothing - both for children and adults - is neatly hung on racks."

We've also seen the same kind of thing - also called a "free store" - in a small town in British Columbia. Residents there take ownership of this resource, keeping the store tidy as they browse and drop off items. Some put in extra time here and there to keep it neat and clean. Residents understand that they're all responsible for this community resource.

People in our area would do the same. We're sure those who put in a little extra effort would easily make up for the messy ones.

This just makes sense. We hope the town and county entities that run the transfer and recycling stations in Lake Placid, Lake Clear and Tupper Lake read this and seriously think about how easy it would be to start their own "free stores."

Some already do this kind of thing at a very small, ad hoc level. In Lake Placid, for instance, often some items are set against the fence next to the dumping station, free for the taking.

We live in a place and time where thrift stores often overflow and have to turn away donations, a place with tons of yard sales but also where most residents don't have time to put on their own sales. Good, usable stuff piles up in attics, basements and garages, waiting to be given away or sold. Or people lose patience with it and take it all to the dump, which is a major waste.

Yet there are people who need and want these things but either don't know where to get them or can't afford them.

We, as a society, are properly concerned with helping those who struggle. Government tries to help by shifting resources through taxation and direct assistance, raising the minimum wage and subsidizing housing and food. Charitable organizations also shift resources from those with excess to those in need; Family Champions in Tupper Lake and church thrift stores already do part of what a "free store" would, although the need is greater than their ability to meet it.

Those things will continue to be necessary and important, but let's not neglect easy, cheap ways of getting items from the people who don't need them to the people who do.

A "free store" would also be another way of taking responsibility for our place on this planet, lessening our waste and dealing with it in a way that has less impact on our environment.



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