Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Landfill Rescue

In my area, garbage is collected every two weeks, and each house is restricted to three bags per pickup. If you need more than three bags, there are tags you can purchase an put on any extra bags. Twice a year we have what are called No-Tag days, where every house can put out as much garbage as they'd like, bags or large items. On these days my friend and I go around performing a Landfill Rescue. Basically we cruise the streets, and if we see something that we know can be re-purposed, we take it home with us. It's amazing to me the kinds of things that are thrown out on a regular basis. Every time, we see more plastic patio chairs than you can imagine. There's also always a lot of children's toys, and often some lawnmowers (may or may not be working...so far about 80% of them work with a bit of effort). We're definitely not the only ones out on those nights either, you can see pickup trucks piled high with items, often scrap metal. We might be the only ones who specialize in big plastic items, like children's toys. :)

So where does all this stuff end up? Our backyard keeps some of the 'rescued' items. Our patio set is entirely rescued; chairs, table and umbrella - we've actually upgraded pieces a couple of times. We also have a pressure washer, camping chairs, lawnmower, children's jeep (the battery powered kind that two kids can sit in - powered by a battery taken from a lawn trimmer). I'm sure there are a few others, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head. Since there's no way we'd be able to keep everything we pick up (at one point I had four lawnmowers in the garage), extra items find their way out to friends and family, or on craigslist and freecycle. I have a friend that works with an organization that collects furniture for the formerly homeless...I keep thinking that there should be an easier way to connect those who could really use the items with the items themselves but the logistics just don't work.

I actually enjoy the rescued items we have more than the ones we go out and buy. It's odd, but there's something satisfying about going out and hunting down the items yourself. :) I haven't gone so far as to check out a freegan lifestyle....I'm not sure if it's that I don't want to, I don't have the courage, or I'm just not sure which dumpsters to dive!

If your area has a similar dumping night (not all areas do), check it out sometime, you might be surprised at what you find.

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