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'Sharing and repairing': York Region spending $100K for 6 community reuse initiatives

The funding will supply community projects — including electronic waste collection events and a new virtual resources hub — to help create a waste-free, circular economy
File photo/Village Media

CORRECTION, Nov. 9: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the funding total was $600,000. York Region clarified that the funding total was $100,000 split across the six organizations.

York Region wants you to reduce waste and reuse products and is funding six community initiatives to the tune of $100,000 to help achieve that.

The region's first-ever Circular Economy Initiatives Fund is meant to provide funding for “community-driven, innovative” projects from non-profits to reduce residential waste and encourage a circular economy.

The concept is to have an economy based on continuously reusing products, rather than using things once and throwing them away. Funding recipient Circular Innovation Council executive director Jo-Anne St. Godard said it is an atypical investment from governments, but a good one to make.

“We don’t really blink an eye when we think about how government, local organizations, support local businesses that provide new products,” St. Godard said. “Why would they not see value — in fact maybe even more value — in businesses that are helping us give life to products, maintaining the longevity of products, keeping them out of landfills? It’s expensive for municipalities to continue to dispose (of waste).” 

The Ontario-based Circular Innovation Council is planning to create a virtual hub where people across York Region can access every local resource for reuse, whether for one-off events or repair businesses.

Other projects getting funded include: Free Geek Toronto for a series of electronic waste collection events, Furniture Bank to promote repurposing household items to local families in need, Impact Zero for a circular business directory, the Whitchurch-Stouffville Strawberry Festival to reduce waste for the 2022 event, and Whitchurch-Stouffville's Willowgrove for workshops teaching children to use upcycled items. 

“York Region is proud to support these six initiatives and is excited to see the impact they will have now and in the future on our communities as we move toward our visionary goal of a world in which nothing goes to waste,” the region said in a news release.

Circular Innovation Council program manager Caitlin Perry said they plan to have the virtual hub ready by April for Earth Month. She said it is meant to address a gap they saw in people’s knowledge of where to get help in reuse.

“People know repairing and sharing is such a simple day-to-day thing to extend the life of your products, but there isn’t always the tools or resources easily accessible there,” Perry said. “We thought it was a huge need, especially in York Region.”

St. Godard said pushing for a circular economy is good for local business, linking people to community repair services rather than getting new products in long supply chains.

“When we educate and promote sharing and repairing for an environmental benefit, we actually support the very businesses that are local that provide the services,” she said. “We aim to provide that with the new project."

You can reach out about getting into the virtual hub at [email protected]