Members of the Cape St. Claire community are looking to change the world, starting in their own backyards.
The Zero Waste Capers have made it their mission to introduce zero-waste practices in Cape St. Claire through their educational Facebook group, turned community environmental activist group.
“The Facebook group was started to help educate ourselves about reducing our waste,” said Audrey Lengbeyer, a founding member of the group. “We discuss zero-waste hacks like reusable fabric lunch bags, beeswax wraps, container-less shampoo bars and toothpaste tablets, permanent safety razors, refillable coffee pods, reusable notebooks, stainless steel drinking straws, and bamboo toilet paper.”
The Facebook group, which was started by Stacey Wildberger, has grown to include 237 members. Learning about zero-waste alternatives and interacting with neighbors is the driving force.
In April 2019, Lengbeyer led the first Cape Community Swap event with the support of the Cape St. Claire Improvement Association. People were encouraged to bring toys, clothes, and other items they no longer needed and swap them for new items.
“We want to encourage swapping and reusing goods rather than landfilling them and shopping for more,” said Lengbeyer. “It’s so much fun to watch people excitedly taking home things you no longer need, and participating together in a swap is a fantastic way to meet and get to know one’s neighbors.”
Lengbeyer has been hosting smaller versions of the community swap in her front yard for years, as well as a puzzle swap at the Broadneck Library last winter.
On October 27, the Zero Waste Capers hosted their second Cape Community Swap, following the success of the spring swap. The goal is to host two swaps in the spring and fall each year to encourage people to hold off on throwing items away.
People bring everything from clothing, shoes, books, toys and games, to housewares, electronics, and even furniture.
All items are free, however, swappers are asked to bring a $2 donation for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Lengbeyer explained that they wanted to make it affordable so everyone could participate, while still making an effort to raise money. The spring swap raised over $200.
“We chose Chesapeake Bay Foundation because everyone in Cape knows the health of the Chesapeake Bay is a cornerstone of our quality of life in Cape St. Claire, and we all want to support their work on our behalf,” said Lengbeyer. “Our mission to reduce waste is loosely tied to protecting the bay and other environmental efforts.”
Though a yard sale is a more popular method of getting rid of unwanted items, Lengbeyer prefers the simplicity of swapping.
“There’s no pricing, no bringing money, no worrying about whose things and whose money,” said Lengbeyer. “Everyone has so much junk they want to get rid of, and this is the easiest way. Just leave your stuff on the tables and take home new treasures.”
All leftovers will be donated to Unity by the Bay Church to be sold during its garage sale fundraiser.
The Zero Waster Capers currently have no plans for new events, but they are making strides to better Cape St. Claire and raise awareness. Two members even helped the Cape St. Claire Garden Club go zero-waste. They compost food waste using a bin system for reusable flatware, tableware, and cloth linens.
“The wonderful thing is seeing people learning and working together to generate and implement efficient ways to reduce or even eliminate waste,” said Lengbeyer.
For more information on the Zero Waste Capers, find the group on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.