Chris Belland's - "Going Green"
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Good Ideas Need Good People to Make Them Happen

Idon't know about you but my garage sales always turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. In the past I have put out things that originally cost several hundred dollars and wind up getting just a few bucks and a dose of humility. I would much rather the items be used by someone who needs them.

In the same vein, I have been associated with people who have had either a spouse die or they need to move and they have literally a lifetime of articles and they either don't want to or can't have a yard sale. They usually end up making one phone call to a charity, which in itself is a good choice -- but there is yet another way of getting these things where they really should go. The idea is the brainchild of Mike Welber. It is called Keys Reuse and you can find it at www.keysreuse.com.

Mike called me the other day and told me, from personal experience, that he had a used telephone he was replacing that was perfectly fine but he couldn't come up with a place to simply get rid of it. He said, "I hate to throw away reusable things." Thus was born the idea of Keys Reuse. I think it is a great idea. It reminded me of a photo I took a few months ago in Naples. I was passing through a wealthy neighborhood and saw what "the other side" throws away. There were chairs, games, vacuum cleaners and a whole assortment of things that my brother, who lives in Nicaragua, says wouldn't last 10 seconds on the street in that poor nation. They say you can tell a rich neighborhood by its trash.

Essentially, the mission statement of Keys Reuse is, "Don't throw it away -- give it away!" The idea is that you now have a place to donate used items to people who really need them. They can be anything from old sheets and towels to discarded computer monitors, tools, musical instruments and toys your children have outgrown. Now we all have a method to find someone who really needs what we no longer want. To me, it's a better option than a yard sale. Or worse, just throwing something away.

I went through Mike's website and nothing could be easier. After the home page with its mission statement, there is a section called "items" that gives a summary of needs from various organizations. Those range from air conditioners, boating gear, food items, furniture, gardening tools, medical items, office equipment, musical instruments and pet supplies to school supplies and tools. An organization that has made a specific request is listed next to each of the items. Hey, come on, it's in alphabetical order so if you have green outdoor fencing paint or a pallet jack, all you have to do is look and see if it's on the list and there's somebody who can use it. I imagine that in most cases they would even pick it up.

The next category on the website is "nonprofits" that lists all the nonprofits registered with KeysReuse.com.There are a lot of names you'll recognize like AIDS Help, Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue, Keys Help Line, the Nature Conservancy and Reef Relief. There are others with whom I am not familiar but you'll probably find one there that you have a special feeling for. Why not reach out and give them a hand? If you're a nonprofit, you might want to register if you haven't already.

Finally, and this is probably the best thing of all to do, Mike has a blog for which you can register that will come to you every time someone puts an item on KeysReuse.com that they'd like to pass on to someone who can use it. This way, both parties -- those with stuff and those who need stuff -- can get together easily.

As is the case with the folks at GLEE, we are blessed in our community that someone has taken the time and energy to make reusing something we don't need anymore so easy to place where it's needed. I can tell you from my own experience, it beats dragging it out and setting it up for a yard sale. I can also tell you that after talking with Mike I have done my own inventory and plan to put a number of items "I'm going to get rid of one of these days" (but no I won't) and put them on Keys Reuse so they can make a difference in helping the nonprofits that are such a special part of our community. Great job, Mike. Keep up the great work.

Remember, too, that your efforts to Recycle, Reduce, Reuse and Rot (compost) may be small by themselves -- but so are the effects when you don't. It is only when all the efforts, both small and large, are put together that they make a big difference.