April 26, 2006

Who needs freecycle?

Here in Galesburg, we have free municipal trash pickup. (Well, not "free", but we pay in taxes and not per-pickup.) But fifty weeks out of the year, you can't put out items that weigh more than 50 lbs or that are longer than, I think, five feet in any dimension. It makes sense, because that way during those weeks they can send around a single person manning each garbage truck.

But two weeks every year, they have Magic Trash Pickup, where anything you put out on the curb, except tires, will get picked up and whisked away.

...just not necessarily by the garbage truck.

See, by making there be only two weeks out of the year (one in April, one in October) that you can put out heavy things like couches and tables and fridges and washing machines and bookcases, that means that everyone trying to throw such things out has them out at the same time. Which makes it worthwhile for scavengers to roam the streets in their pickup trucks to find the good stuff. Which, in turn, means that people will "throw out" some things that they know are perfectly good, and don't belong in a landfill, fairly secure in the knowledge that someone else will come by and pick it up later. I just did a circuit of three blocks of Broad St with Nutmeg, and already there's nothing of worth left except one window that appeared intact and one narrow wooden door without hardware. There was quite a bit more when I walked him three hours ago (and probably even more before that).

It's hard being a packrat when these weeks come along. I have a firm rule that I do not pick up anything unless I have a very specific use in mind for it and a place for it to go (and even then, nothing with upholstery—ew). That rule has actually prevented me from scavenging anything in the past, although today I acquired an end table and a heavy wooden bookshelf, both in fair condition. I was able, with some effort, to restrain myself from taking a really nice old heavy rolling desk chair (the kind that weighs a ton because it's all steel, with firm vinyl seat and back), and a whole stack of perfectly good windows and screens.

It's really a great system, though; a low-tech freecycle.

"Some men think a green-eyed woman is exotic. The truth is she's got fat eyes." --Cecil Adams

Posted by blahedo at 10:18pm on 26 Apr 2006
Comments
FreeCycle needs a lot of work before it is really viable. I run the Warren County group and behind the scenes dealing with higher ups is a chore. Posted by Elvin at 5:38pm on 27 Apr 2006

It's hard being a packrat when these weeks come along. I have a firm rule that I do not pick up anything unless I have a very specific use in mind for it and a place for it to go (and even then, nothing with upholstery—ew).

That's how it's gotta work. I have a tendency to be an incredible packrat. Got it from my parents; nature and nurture no doubt.

I use the same rule for any other clutter I come accross when I am cleaning. When in doubt, throw it out!

Posted by ansible at 8:44pm on 27 Apr 2006
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