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Start a free table at work

In the break room at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, there’s a “free table” where staff and volunteers leave items that they don’t want any more or can’t use. Once an item is placed on the table, it’s free for the taking. The concept of the free table started many years ago.
 
“A long time ago, people started leaving extra food on the table from events or they brought in special goodies to share,” explained Programs Director Larry Fukuhara. “Then people started leaving stacks of books on the table with little signs that said ‘Free for the taking.’ Then knick knacks, then clothes and then finally about 12 years ago it was officially declared the free table.”
 
Now the free table is a well-established tradition. Staff and volunteers swing by the break room to see what’s on the free table, inspect new items and snatch up the good stuff before it’s gone. Food is still the most common contribution. People bring in leftover Halloween candy, extra sweets from events and sometimes special baked treats just to share. One volunteer is famous for bringing in homemade cookies on Tuesdays and one CMA staff member brings in freshly baked bread on Wednesdays.
 
There are also plenty of non-food items donated to the free table including books, magazines, ear phones, travel mugs, shirts, decorations, soap, lotion, tea, notebooks, cards, magnets and much more. And it’s great because other people get to pick up stuff for free! As the old adage goes, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
 
But the best part about having a free table is that it reduces waste and encourages recycling. Instead of throwing extra food in the trash, it gets eaten. Instead of throwing away items that aren’t appropriate for a donation center, someone else gets to use them. The free table extends the life of unwanted items, keeps things out of landfills and protects our waterways in the process.
 
So expand your recycling consciousness and start a free table where you work. It’s a fun way to raise awareness about recycling and turn ocean conservation into action. Plus, you never know what cool item you might find on the free table!

Post Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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