BUSINESS

Junkery takes hands-on, personal approach to removing junk

‘You have their lifetime of memories in your hands’

Ginny Sterling Boddie and John Boddie at the Junkery warehouse.
Ginny Sterling Boddie and John Boddie at the Junkery warehouse.   Sydney Jones

Dirty, shabby, rusted, old, dusty, creaky, drippy and smelly.

Those are words most people associate with garbage, but Ginny Sterling Boddie and John Boddie see the objects as something else.

“Junk is psychological for a lot of people,” says Sterling Boddie. “It’s lifetimes of memories.”

The couple started Junkery, an independent waste removal company servicing all of the Halifax Regional Municipality, in January 2015. Unlike other waste removal businesses, they take junk back to a 2,200-square-foot warehouse in Bayers Lake to be sorted.

During this process, more than 86 per cent of the junk gets recycled, while other items are organized into different piles to be donated. The rest goes to the Otter Lake Waste Facility.

Donating gently-used items

With the exception of metal scraps like steel and aluminum, Junkery doesn’t sell what it collects.

Instead, items that aren’t recycled or taken to the landfill are donated to about 20 different locations in Halifax. Among them are Value Village, which accepts clothing, furniture, and other household items and Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer program promoting homeownership and affordable housing.

The Junkery “Hall of Fame.”   Sydney Jones

“They’re getting all of these items and they need to figure out where they can put them that keeps them out of the landfills,” says Deborah Page, director for Nova Scotia’s Habitat for Humanity.

“If they’re cleaning out a garage and it happens to have windows and they’re still good, we’ll take those.”

The items donated to Habitat for Humanity go to a ReStore in Bayers Lake. The store accepts anything from gently used furniture to plumbing supplies and electronics from Junkery, many of which are still in “excellent condition,” says Page.

Proceeds from the store go towards fundraising costs for housing.

Sterling Boddie plays with some old cameras.
Sterling Boddie plays with some old cameras.   Sydney Jones

Emotional side of junk

Sterling Boddie has found that each piece of junk tells a story.

“All of a sudden, it became much more intimate than I thought it would be,” she says.“You have their lifetime of memories in your hands and you’re starting to paint a picture of who this person was.”

A newspaper from 1927.   Sydney Jones

An old organ pushed up against a wall in the warehouse holds a particularly special memory for the couple.

About a year ago a man and wife, who were downsizing from the home they had lived in for 40 years, contacted Junkery. Boddie met the couple over tea and together they came up with a plan for their possessions, like the organ, that had sentimental value.

“That organ, when it came time to move it (the older couple) hugged each other and they turned around because they couldn’t even watch us taking it away,” says Sterling Boddie.

Boddie plays the old organ in the warehouse.   Sydney Jones

The organ is still sitting at the warehouse, but Sterling Boddie says she promised the couple she would find a good home for it.

Waste removal in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has often been considered a leader in waste management.

According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia’s disposal rate, meaning the amount of waste disposed per person, per year, is 50 per cent lower than the Canadian average. 

Between 1994 and 2011, Nova Scotia also saw an increase from 19 per cent to 94 per cent in the number of households composting their kitchen and yard waste.

What’s next?

So far, Junkery only deals with calls within the boundaries of the HRM, but the Boddies are hoping that will change.

“We’re hoping to bring it to other jurisdictions as well,” says Boddie. “To Nova Scotia and beyond.”

Junkery has one garbage truck and the team hopes to acquire another next spring.