Swap shops in Wallingford have come to a natural end at the beginning of 2019!

Sustainable Wallingford became known over the years to many people for our quarterly Swap Shops, at which people brought along items they no longer had a use for and left them for others to help themselves to.
The first was held in 2003; back then and for many years after, we also collected the things that at that time you could not put out for kerbside recycling, for example tetrapaks, batteries and foil (we even got Tetrapak to send a lorry for the large number of containers that we had collected). We also collected computers, light bulbs, mobile phones, spectacles, and printer cartridges, all of which can now be recycled or disposed of easily in a more sustainable way.

Broken computers and monitors should be taken to Oakley Wood recycling centre. Incandescent light bulbs unfortunately have to go in your black bin, but low energy bulbs and fluorescent tubes can be taken to Oakley Wood. Many charities collect old mobile phones, and spectacles can be taken to Boots or other opticians, from where they are sent to Africa. Printer cartridges can be taken to Higgs stationers in Castle Street among others. As for the other things that you might have brought to Swap Shops, working computers and monitors, and anything else you feel still has useful life in it can be passed on or sold on internet sites such as Trash Nothing or Wallingford Piper Sales, Gumtree, eBay and others. – and where possible we should all try not to buy things that are likely to become unwanted before long.

Our decision to stop running Swap Shops was partly due to SODC improving recycling, and partly to wanting to get Repair Cafés underway. Also, getting rid of the leftovers from Swap Shops, even after passing as much as possible to the charity shops in the town, was an increasing problem and incurred some payments at Oakley Wood.

We owe the enormous success of these events to our loyal volunteers over the years, who turned up to set up, put out the huge amount of items brought in, manned the doors (to restrict items entering that we were unable to deal with), carried out the electrical PAT testing so small electrical items could be passed on, weighed the items that people took away, cleared away by boxing up all the same types of materials together, trudged the streets of Wallingford to offload items to charity shops, packed car and trailer and headed for Oakley Wood, and unloaded there into the different categories of skips. We also need to thank the Oxfordshire Community Action Group Project (themselves funded by the County Council) for their help with costs (and for giving us the idea in the first place), and SODC for their practical help in the early years.

We need to congratulate ourselves for our sterling work. Over the course of 15 years we held 60 events, each of us having volunteered for roughly 240 hours. Based on the figures taken at the weighing station at each event, we saved approximately 35 tonnes of items from being thrown away, and their reuse prevented people from contributing to the depletion of our world’s resources by buying new. Furthermore, that figure does not include the amount taken to charity shops or put on Freecycle after the Swap Shop, so the true total will be significantly higher!