19 May 2011

March 2011: Verge Collection

Since moving into this neighbourhood ten years ago I have been delighted to participate in the bi-annual hard rubbish verge collection. It is affectionately known in our household as 'chuck out day', but in reality is more of a 'pick up day' or even a pick up week. March was the season for chuck out days, both in our own neighbourhood and in several others we frequent. We needed a new bookshelf, as my habit of buying second-hand picture books from discarded from the WA State Library system had left us with a teetering mountain of kids books in a corner of the office. I had held off purchasing one for some months to await the next verge collection. Bookshelves of any quality, we discovered, are not an item of choice for throwing away. After looking for a couple of weeks, though, we finally found one on our very own street, just six or seven houses away, which given its size and weight was just as well or I don't know how we would have got the thing home. 

Of course, while looking for a bookshelf we came across all sorts of other useful things that are now living at our house too! A list of what I can recall: push-along toddler tricycle, six white plastic outdoor chairs (for my sister who was having a party), cane toybox, yellow plastic children's chair, plastic Fisher-Price castle, most of a timber Viking stronghold (I think it may have had more trimmings originally, and possibly one or two more wall pieces), timber Viking ship (mast broken, easily fixable), several plastic/rubber insects and reptiles, soft toy whale, two soft toy lizards, large metal freestanding lamp (needed a broken globe dug out of the socket but otherwise in working order) and the bookshelf. In the past I have also collected carpets/ rugs, couches, armchairs, outdoor settings, a desk (which with a few additions has been Eva's nappy change table), dolls houses, and chests of drawers, to name a few. On one occasion my mum and I found a very heavy couch in good condition, too big for my car, and in absence of any other wheeled device we borrowed two discarded children's strollers from a nearby verge pile to wheel the couch up a hill to my house. I recommend getting hold of a fridge trolley instead of this method of removal!

I was also please to see the old broken bikes we put out get taken away by people to be reused.  

Initial Time: We didn't make any special trips to look for things, but kept our eyes out along the verges wherever we drove for about four weeks while things were piling up in different suburbs. A few two minute stops to jump out and add an item or two to our car collected most of the items above. The outdoor chairs took a little long to get into the car. A pile of toys down our street took a special trip to sort through and bring things home. The book shelf required taking a fridge trolley (or if you are from South Australia, as 'sack truck') to collect. But none of the collection missions took more than about 15 minutes.

Initial Cost: Zero.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Zero.

Impact: All of the above items have been saved from landfill. (I have to not watch when the council comes to pick up verge collection items, because the way perfectly good things are crushed and thrown into the truck upsets me so much). In addition, as many of the things we collected are items I would have purchased if they had not been on the verge, a significant amount of raw materials including quite possibly some rainforest timbers have been saved from being turned into my furniture.

I also think that using items from the verge to furnish my house challenges consumer culture and helps us to feel part of our neighbourhood in a different way.

No comments:

Post a Comment