SOUTH PORTLAND – Spring cleaning has officially begun.

It can be challenging to decide what to do with unwanted items; luckily, South Portland offers an easy solution. The city’s official Swap Shop, located next to the Municipal Services Facility on Highland Avenue, recently opened for its second full year.

The process of swapping items is simple. Residents drive past the Transfer Facility to the Swap Shop building, where they drop off any items they don’t need anymore. They can then pick up anything they would find useful. If the item is still in good condition, chances are somebody would have an interest in it.

Books are some of the most popular items. There are also rugs, small furniture, luggage, glassware, lamps, toys, vinyl, paintings, crafts and many other items. In addition, there is a nearby bin for clothing to be brought to the Salvation Army.

“It does a great job of putting things out of the waste stream, things that could have been reused,” said Denise Michaud, administrative assistant at South Portland Public Works.

Michaud helps organize the facility and coordinates volunteers.

Even though its doors have only been open for two years, the service has had a remarkable turnout, Michaud said. The smooth operation is thanks in part to its proximity to the transfer facility and public works. Everybody works together to assist residents in whatever they need.

“The Transfer Facility is our first line of defense,” Michaud said. “People are supposed to check in there first. Then they continue to the Swap Shop.”

Despite these measures, there are still instances when the Swap Shop ends up with items that don’t belong. Volunteers have seen everything from microwaves to cans of diesel. Other things that aren’t accepted include TVs, clothing, refrigerators, mattresses, bedding, food and perishables. A list of items is available online.

Overall, everybody is friendly and eager to follow the rules, said volunteer Peggie Sanborn. Volunteers have met plenty of kind people, and there are even regulars that stop by each week, Michaud said.

“I think they’re a wonderful thing. I believe every town should have one,” Sanborn said.

Sanborn said many towns in Maine are opening similar facilities, which demonstrates the increasing popularity of reusing and being more sustainable.

The facility is open between Tuesday and Saturday, but it will not open if nobody is available to help. There is an opening for a volunteer position for Tuesday mornings.

To volunteer, or for more information, contact public works at 767-7635.

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