If he hadn’t ended up in Ward Ricker’s storage unit, it would have been junk. Instead, he carries the things that others don’t want and gives them to those who want them.
Much is not enough to donate to thrift stores. But Ricker sees finding a home – other than the landfill – for furniture, housewares and all the odds and ends he collects as a way to reduce overall waste. He hopes to give out some hooking stuff.
Ricker tries to start a free store, where everything costs buyers nothing.
Almost every Sunday since April, Ricker has opened a storage unit in Eugeneto for anyone who wants free stuff. Ricker’s main goal is to intercept items destined for the landfill by giving them all to the people who want and need them.
âI am concerned about the waste issues,â Ricker said. “We are using all of our resources, wasting them so that future generations don’t have them. We put all of our waste in these horrible, toxic piles that we call landfills, and that’s just not right. We shouldn’t be. to do this to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is simply not true. ”
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Ricker stores his free storage locker with the things he’s taken since starting a garbage collection business last December, a business he says started out as a way to find out more about waste. In April, he was giving away the items he brought back for free and hoped to spark the development of a nonprofit dedicated to free shopping.
Ricker gets paid to haul the trash, but he said customers are often happy to hear that their old stuff won’t just be thrown in the trash. Now he wants to take the next step.
Ricker is considering calling the future organization “No waste Eugene. “
âFurniture, housewares, dishes, there are electronics, tools, equipment, books. I think most of the stuff I carry is reusable. Ricker said. “Let’s have a place where people can take it rather than the landfill, what I call ‘in the garbage’ people will use it pretty well if you give it to them but the thrift stores don’t want it and end up in the dump. ”
Danielle Sirota visited Ricker’s Weekly Gifts for one simple reason.
âI like the free stuff,â Sirota said.
Sirota said she only takes a few things like an alarm clock or a new push cart. She said it was no surprise that unwanted items were picked up quickly – she sees it all the time.
âPeople throw away so much stuff. Even in my apartment building, they’ll put it in the trash and then it’s all gone,â Sirota said.
âFree stores,â where donated items are distributed for free, have been around for decades, sometimes as occasional pop-up events and sometimes inside a storefront. They can be charity-driven or focused on creating social or environmental solutions.
Everyone is invited to Ricker’s freebies, although the first hour is for buyers with limited financial means, he said. Events take place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Those wishing for early entry are asked to call to plan in advance.
Ricker hopes the weekly giveaways will generate enough interest and attention that others will see the value of starting a free store as a nonprofit with a physical location. But that idea is still in its infancy, Ricker said, and so far it’s just him and, at times, volunteers.
Shannon Wellborn, one of those volunteers, said she has always attended sharing and giveaway events as a cheap alternative to buying items like new or even used books.
But after her first visit to Ricker’s storage unit, she said she was eager to help.
âI was so in love,â Wellborn said. “It might sound like a storage unit full of trash to you, but when you have no money for anything, it’s a wonderful resource.”
Ricker recently moved the location of his free gifts. He now welcomes them on Sundays at Quail’s Nest Mini Storage at 90010 Prairie Road in Eugene.
Ricker can be contacted at 541-650-4662.
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.