It's trash night in my neighborhood. I have a love/hate relationship with trash night. I hate to see my neighbors put out trash that could be reduced/reused/recycled. It absolutely breaks my heart that some poor kid with no toys could be playing with something that's just going to get bashed to bits and head for the landfill.
I love trash night because I enjoy turning trash into treasure, and I have benefitted from some of my neighbors cast offs. For instance, my son is riding a two wheel bicycle, complete with training wheels, that was discarded by my mom's neighbor. I once rescued a numbered print in a frame from a trash pile. When I got home, I researched the rest of the set on ebay auctions. Three others had sold ranging from $600-$2000. If I knew how to get it evaluated I probably would have sold it by now, but I like the picture so I'm happy to keep it.
I think my husband has given up on trying to dissuade me from picking through other people's trash. Just last week we went for a walk and I asked if I could take home a wicker table that someone had in their trash. He actually took it out of my hand and offered to carry it home. Imagine how mortified he was when we turned to walk away and noticed the homeowner standing on his porch. He had an amused look on his face since he had been watching us the entire time. Previously, the neighbors thought only I was a dumpster diver. Now my husband was branded as an accomplice as well. I don't actually think he minds me rescuing items from going to the landfill. He just doesn't like that they litter our garage until I get around to doing something with them.
I just don't understand why people throw useful things away. Amvets will come and pick up anything right from your front porch, all you have to do is call them. How easy is that? Or what about an organization to help needy families? There's one here in town called "Off the Floor", which accepts donations of furniture to give to people that don't have any. And it's a tax right off.
I'm always amazed when we go to England. My sister in law puts out one tiny little trash can, as do the rest of her neighbors. The rest is either composted or recycled. People in this country seem to think we have a bottomless pit where we can store all of our garbage. Don't even get me started on the amount we consume, I'm just talking about throwing away usable items.
There are several pick up trucks that prowl our streets on trash night. It used to be one lone truck, but now that the economy is in the toilet it's a race to see who can get the most treasure. Last week I watched a man load a washing machine into his truck by himself. I was amazed, and slightly encouraged. At least someone was saving stuff. Then I heard one of his competitors say it all still gets taken to the dump anyway. They collect it because they get paid by the pound.
If I ever lose my job as a pilot, I think I might start a second hand shop with things I've found by the side of the road. Of course, I'll keep their origins out of my marketing plan. Until then, I will continue to scan the curbs as I drive home on trash night. I'll pick up any small pieces I can save, and feel sick to my stomach about the furniture I can't lift by myself or fit in my car. And I'll continue to hope that one day, people will realize it takes less time and effort to drag the trash to your front porch for Amvets than to drag it to the back for the landfill. Besides, think how good it will make you feel to know you're helping your fellow man.