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The best way to curb side shop and share in Toronto

How to curb your shopping with curb side shopping

Toronto’s Degrassi Street is better than Value Village for odds and ends, sometimes even Guff Furniture.

After seven years in Toronto, the curb is where I’ve looked most often when I'm in need of something for my home like kitchen table chairs for example, or a full-length mirror. It started out more to do with lack of finances for big ticket items than joining any zero waste Toronto movement but I’m proud of my individual actions to be net zero, none the least.

Coming from a small town, the concept of leaving things like old coffee mugs and dishes or books and binders at the curb for someone to take away was very new to me. First I noticed a bird cage, then a bookcase, and then I forgot about the mall completely. Back then online shopping wasn’t as prevalent as it is today.

Now that I’ve been at this ‘curb your shopping’ game for a few years, both leaving items out and taking them in, I’d consider myself a pro.

3 Tips to keep it classy at the curb side

Unofficial rules to live by whether you contribute to the curb side or collect from it

1. Unless it's really cool, like a vintage crochet top you found hanging on a fence in East York, or basically brand new ballet slippers on Queen, or green and black striped fingerless mittens from Jones, don't take clothes from the curb. Similar to mattresses, sofas, and rugs, bed bugs will often hide out in clothing at infested homes. Be careful.

2. Most items left on the curb in Toronto aren't labeled ‘For Free,’ so it’s best to make sure that garden edger is actually up for grabs. You don't want to be walking off with your neighbour’s flower pots, for example, even if they were a little close to the curb. Use common sense. Or, if you really like what you see, just knock on their door and ask!

3. There is nothing wrong with putting out free stuff on your curb, as long as you dispose of it, if no one takes it. After a few days, pretty much everyone on your block has seen your bakeware from Home Sense and they don’t want it. Fortunately the average amount of time something sits on the street in my neighbourhood is one minute. Several times I’ve even caught a glimps of my unwanted item’s new owner. How cool is that?

Every year, the City of Toronto manages more than 900,000 tonnes (almost two billion pounds) of waste. This requires money, energy, and resources and takes up valuable landfill space. As the City of Toronto take aggressive action to reduce its carbon footprint, individuals are encouraged to take action too. To ensure that Toronto is on track to reach net zero by 2040, one thing we can do is reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

What I like most about curb side shopping (or, rather, sharing) is that it not only keeps waste out of the landfill but it keeps money out of the transaction. When you donate your items to Value Village – a for-profit business, for example – it will be resold, likely right back into your neighbourhood. Why not let someone have it for free, instead? What goes around comes around, especially in the circular economy.