What If we had a ‘Swap Shop’ near the Norwalk transfer station?

Norwalk recycling advocates Audrey Cozzarin and Diane Lauricella visiting the SWAP Shop HQ at the Darien Transfer Station, partially paid for with an early adopter grant from RecycleCT.com over five years ago. The metal shed includes a section for used books, sports equipment, housewares, and tools. It is a great gathering spot to meet residents, swap stories, and help educate residents about reducing our waste. (Contributed)

Send signed letters to [email protected], with a suggested headline.

Ah, the dump, or rather, Norwalk’s transfer station, is a place many of us frequent either to recycle metal, waste oil, or large plastic items, or drop off food scraps. What seems unfortunate is visiting the transfer station and also seeing furniture that is gently-used, brand-new, or vintage, along with other interesting items that are unwanted by the original owner being thrown out in the solid waste dumpsters on a daily basis. Why can’t these items also be set aside for someone to give them TLC?

What if we had a “Swap Shop” at the Norwalk transfer station as do neighboring cities and towns? Darien, Stamford and New Canaan feature a shed where furniture, books, toys, kitchen items, sporting goods, luggage, etc., is neatly put on display for folks to take home. Stamford sets aside lamps, working appliances, and all sorts of items still in good shape. Greenwich’s famous “Book Shed,” a hub for readers, a free library, has existed for years. All of the Swap Shops utilize volunteers with the back-up support of staff. All sites seem active and lively, a place to meet your neighbors and swap stories alongside the swapping of furniture. We could all use more fun, right?

Some of the kitchen and useable household items in good condition. Seasonal items like Christmas decorations and snow shovels often appear. (Contributed)

At prices approaching $100/ton in tipping fees for Norwalk mixed solid waste, what if Norwalk could try to further reduce the expensive waste stream by increasing the opportunities to divert even more perfectly valuable items that can be reused?

Many of our other waste streams could be optimized, such as electronics and mattress collection so that we collect more of the valuable items that have real reuse value, and help the state of Connecticut achieve its waste management goals that are fast approaching.

We will offer more ideas in future articles.

Let’s try to treat furniture more sustainably by reusing rather than hauling off to be destroyed. All comments are welcome. Let’s see what can be.


Audrey Cozzarin and Diane Lauricella

Norwalk Waste Reduction Advocates

Reminder: NancyOnNorwalk requires full names from commenters. For more information, go here.

One possible location for a “Swap Shed:” Norwalk-owned site near the Transfer Station and now leased by the Ducci Electrical Contractors of Farmington. (Contributed)

Darien SWAP Shop rules and accepted items. Outdoor tables and additional bins are provided for donation of textiles and bikes.(Contributed)

Sports equipment that is in good condition and could save a family hundreds of dollars. (Contributed)


Jalna Jaeger February 6, 2023 at 6:46 am

I think that the swap shop is a great idea! Why can’t we have one? I would be glad to volunteer.

Jo Bennett February 6, 2023 at 7:49 am

Nice idea! I also wonder why Goodwill doesn’t have a relationship with the transfer station. Goodwill already provides a great service in training people for jobs in retail; this would be an expansion into the supply chain.

Patsy Rupp February 6, 2023 at 8:47 am

This is an excellent idea. I have long wished for such a facility. Thank you for proposing this idea.

Brenda Jacobsen February 6, 2023 at 9:01 am

This is a terrific idea!! Thanks Diane and Audrey for thinking outside of the box , no pun intended ! I used to donate to the swap shop in Darien and it was a way to foster community while letting go of things ( or finding ) that still have life left in them.

lucia fiaschetti February 6, 2023 at 9:20 am

A wonderful idea. I have personally seen many items tossed away that could have/should have been recycled. Please let me know how I can help move this project forward.

Georgette Wirth February 6, 2023 at 9:40 am

Yes this is very much needed I had taken photos of the swap shop in Stamford and was going to write the city about it. It is a disgrace to see quality items, antique or vintage furniture thrown out when other familirs could use them and we dont have the room in the dump.Repuposing and reusing is a concept that IS working in other towns. Even Milford has two times a year where residents put out items for free.Residents start as earlier as 2 am to pick up items they can use! I agree with Diane on this.Great!!

Mary Ann Cappiello February 6, 2023 at 10:13 am

This would be a great thing to do. Stamford has a building for books and another for small furniture and household items that can be recycled to others instead of going into landfill. Better for the environment and useful for others who can not afford items.

Melissa Murray February 6, 2023 at 11:46 am

Fantastic idea. I hope this gets support. I have items I’d bring down today if I knew they weren’t going straight to waste.

Russ Atkins February 6, 2023 at 12:44 pm

An absolutely great idea! I have several items in good shape which I no longer need or use and don’t want to throw them in the garbage and waste precious resources. Please help support this endeavor!

Audrey Cozzarin February 6, 2023 at 4:01 pm

How wonderful to know others are feeling and thinking and desiring the same wishes for our community! Please, to those who wish to volunteer, Diane and I are happy to keep the list of names. E-mail me at [email protected] and Diane at [email protected]. “What if” together we create a much-needed Swap Shop here in Norwalk, maybe even more than one!

Bryan Meek February 6, 2023 at 6:54 pm

If it was a viable business model, it would exist here already. If only we had a junk and salvage-ables officer on the city payroll, maybe we could make it happen?

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