Summit Free Market makes progress for environment

SUMMIT, NJ — The Summit Free Market took place two consecutive Saturdays, Oct. 15 and 22, for residents to donate unwanted materials and reuse other items of interest. The event took place at Summit Transfer Station, located at 40 New Providence Ave. Middle- and high-schools students run the event that has served more than 5,000 residents and has kept more than 125 tons of reusable material from the waste stream.

“The event has a great social aspect, as members of the community come together to donate and reuse items,” Summit Mayor Nora Radest told LocalSource over the phone. “The middle and high school students run the program and have a chance to get to know one another. The event attracts a lot of young families, and many people find things that were barely used that they can share with one another. The Summit Free Market is held twice per year, two consecutive Saturdays during the spring and fall seasons.”

“I’m one of the adult mentors who supervises the team of students that host the event,” Summit Public Information Officer Amy Cairns told LocalSource in an email. “The event is only open to residents of Summit. We have been running the event since 2008, and the initiative has been successful in reducing tipping fees for solid waste and keeping more than 120 tons of reusable material from going into landfills. Citizens love it. We get hundreds of people bringing items to share and taking items during each Saturday event.”

The Summit Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to educate the public and improve the environment in Summit, has raised funds to construct a building that would be used to host this event in the future. There are also plans for a second floor to the building where environmental classes will be held.

“The conservancy has raised more than $100,000 to build a permanent home for the Summit Free Market,” Cairns told LocalSource in an email. The building is expected to be located on New Providence Avenue, according to Conservancy Board Member David Naidu.

The construction hasn’t started yet, but the city is anticipating it to start soon and the completion to be sometime next spring.

“We hope to have the structure built by the spring of 2017,” Radest told LocalSource over the phone. “The lease for the county property has been signed, but we are still in the process of working with the county prior to construction.”

While the building is ultimately the city’s project, the Summit Conservancy is the group that worked to raise the necessary funds as well as organize some of the building plans.

“A group of us founded the conservancy with the aim to fund projects related to improving the environment in and around Summit,” Naidu told LocalSource over the phone. “The Free Market building is our first project, and it’s a significant one because it will reduce the amount of waste in landfills and help the community in need. We also can educate people on reusing materials to save them some money. Now, thanks to donations and pledges, we have enough to begin construction. We are still collecting donations for any unexpected costs we might encounter. Donations can be made through our website,”

Once the building is complete, Summit plans to hold more free markets throughout the year. They anticipate not as many residents coming at once, but that the event will have a larger turnout altogether.

“We hope to hold the event once per month once the building is established,” Naidu told LocalSource over the phone.