“At least 45,000 items have found new homes via Pong and Ping…”

Back in 2013, Saltburn Maths teacher Jez Davis and his wife Carmen sorted out lots of things that were too good for the bin, but not worth the bother of selling. Rather than take them to a charity shop, they started “Pong” to give them away via Facebook. Anyone who wanted to claim an item simply replied “Ping”! A few years later, “Ping” appeared as a mirror image – post a request for an item, and if someone is able to give you it, they reply “Pong”. Win win situations all round!

Then came Pong5, where people can sell items for up to £5, making it a popular choice for people getting rid of things like children’s bikes. More recently, realising there were people who couldn’t drive, or didn’t want to travel miles to collect things, Jez set up a local version of Pong just for Saltburn and the nearby East Cleveland villages.

Jez estimates at least 45,000 items have found new homes via Pong and Ping (and remember he’s a Maths teacher, so that’ll be a pretty good estimate).

By now you probably have the sound of pinging and ponging ringing around your head and you may be wondering why Jez chose these names for the groups. It’s best if he explains.

“It came from a youth misspent in and around the pubs of Saltburn. If someone was smoking a cigarette and before finishing it said “Ping…” then the first person to respond “…pong!” would get the stub end of the cigarette. So that’s where the idea and name came from.”

Now Pinging and Ponging has spread to Guisborough, where artist Tracy, maker and curator Miki and crafter Hannah recognised that the Covid Crisis had created a need for a new way to facilitate re-use and recycling. They saw that people stuck at home during lockdown were using the time to have a clear out while others needed things like furniture, clothing and toys but were either short of cash, or couldn’t find the right shops open to buy what they needed. They stuck with the local model and so Guisborough Pong and Guisborough Ping were born, serving the town and surrounding villages.

Guisborough Pong and Ping had over 2,000 posts in their first three months. The most memorable offer so far has been an allotment that was proving too much work for one person. The discussion on this post led to the formation of a team to manage the workload collectively. Not an outcome you would have predicted, but a great solution for everyone involved.

Pong and Ping flourish because they tap into a sense of community, and then boost it further – it’s a virtuous spiral. Regular users get to know each other, and swap tips on how to use recycled items. There are so many generous people around, giving away items that they could have hung onto or sold, often delivering them too. The group admins have had amazing messages of thanks, and know just how grateful people are to be given items they needed but couldn’t afford to buy. Jez points to this message as an illustration of just how life changing this community initiative can be.

All six of the Groups mentioned here are easy to find on Facebook. Simply search for Pong, Ping, Pong5, Saltburn Pong, Pong Guisborough and Ping Guisborough, then join the ones that are of most interest to you.

And back to Jez and his estimates, he reckons that without the Pong and Ping pages he runs, an extra 150 tonnes of perfectly usable stuff could have ended up in landfill!


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