Gear Closet recycles outdoor items for clean water

Gear Closet recycles outdoor items for clean water

February 22nd, 2012 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

Can't remember the last time you used the camping stove or fishing rod in the back of your closet? Move away from the lake and have nowhere to put your canoe?

Help save the environment in more ways than one by donating to The Gear Closet, which is collecting donations of gently used outdoor gear to sell as a fundraiser for the TenneSEA Kids 4 Clean Water Project.

Mary Beth Sutton, executive director of Signal Mountain-based Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance and its local offshoot TenneSEA, displays a few items donated to The Gear Closet. The nonprofit will open a storefront soon to sell the donated items to raise funds for the TenneSEA Kids 4 Clean Water Project.

Photo by Emily Crisman

"[Supporting The Gear Closet] helps kids in the community and developing countries," said Mary Beth Sutton, executive director of Signal Mountain-based Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance and its local offshoot, TenneSEA. "Everyone needs clean water."

She plans to open a storefront soon and is currently deciding on a location. For now, donated items are stored at the Mountain Arts Community Center, which along with Outdoor Chattanooga in Coolidge Park and at Greenway Farms/North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, and Leisure Time Dive and Snow Ski Center, is accepting donations during business hours.

Chris Calhoun and Bob Paulson, who will manage the store once open, will arrange to pick up large items such as kayaks or canoes, which can also be sold on consignment if donors need to recuperate some of the funds from a large purchase.

The Gear Closet also plans to set up a booth at the Outdoor Gear Swap and Expo Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kids 4 Clean Water funds educational programs in local schools, such as Thrasher Elementary and Scenic Land School, and the purchase of water testing kits volunteers train community members to use to monitor area streams. Funds may also be used to help fix water-related issues uncovered during school programs, for example, constructing a manmade wetland to treat contaminated water, said Sutton.

Donating any type of old gear such as backpacks, rain jackets, snorkels, climbing harnesses, Frisbee golf putters or sunglasses keeps those items out of landfills and could provide someone else with exactly what they need at a good price.

"Chattanooga has really become an outdoor place, and lots of people come here to go rock climbing, canoeing or [standup paddle] boarding," said Sutton. "[The Gear Closet] helps people because it's cheaper if you want to try something out or get your kids into something and see if they like it."

A mismatch bin for seemingly useless donations such as a lone glove or sock is a potential treasure trove for some.

All donations are tax deductible, said Sutton.