Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

Mindful Echo will happily dig through your trash pile in search of treasure.

Since living in Halifax I've experienced an interesting phenomenon: the curbside giveaway.

In addition to two annually-scheduled region-wide events, the citizens of Halifax proper - and to a lesser extent, the municipality at large - love to give things away. I'm not sure if it's because Halifax is a student-filled town, home to three universities and a college, or maybe it's just that Atlantic Canada is typically low to middle income families who appreciate the value of a dollar.

Sure, I had seen the occasional piece of furniture on someone's lawn with a "free" sign in the other cities in which I've lived, but never to this extent. Without exaggeration I can say that a sunny day in Halifax will guarantee a handful of curbside "free stuff" piles.

Don't get me wrong; sometimes it's total crap. But every now and then, there's a gem to be found. It's these gems that make the treasure hunting worthwhile.

This antique desk chair was a curbside find a few weeks ago. It's solid wood and in perfect condition. As you can see, it was claimed almost immediately by Leroy, who appreciates recycling as much as I do.
Regardless of what motivates this type of sharing, it's obvious to me that it beats out store-bought items almost 100% of the time.This is particuarly the case for me, as I can't always afford the high quality, built-to-last furniture that I would like to purchase. My price range is more in line with a certain company that sells Swedish-designed, particle board, DIY furniture. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about; while the designs are sleek and fun, the furniture itself rarely lasts for any significant length of time. Thus, second-hand is the ideal solution for my situation.

A friend who is moving out of town hooked me up with these goodies. I wouldn't recommend taking opened food from someone you don't know and trust though.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, we score a D on the municipal waste generation report card, placing last out of 17 countries. How embarrassing.

In our current culture of convenience, it makes sense that we're content with regularly replacing crappy furniture and other items with new versions of the same. Since so few things are built to last, we've come to expect a short lifespan on most of our home investments.

What's so wrong about just tossing your old crap? Actually, a lot. The more municipal waste we create, the more environmental issues arise, including the destruction of animal habitats, groundwater pollution, and a number of other forms of air, soil, and water contamination.

I found this free chest last weekend. I took it home, removed the lid, and now it's a planter-in-progress.

Planter-in-progress. Soil needed. :)
This post should leave you with two future actions to consider: First is to think about donating your used items before tossing them. Post them on your FB to offer items up among friends. Alternatively, you could drop them in donation box of your charity of choice.

Second is to be conscientious of your purchases. Does it have to be something bought new or could you make-do with second-hand? For me the incentive of vintage quality is my motivation, and finding items cheap or free just seals the deal.

Either way, think about how long that item will be of use to you before it just becomes another lump in a landfill.


Julia (Color Me Green) said...

i used to be all about getting furniture off the street. until i suffered bed bugs more times than i'd like. now i feel like buying used furniture, even from a shop, is ruined for me forever.

Stephanie Hayes said...

Amazing finds! Thrifting is also a great idea if you can't find things for free. My whole house and wardrobe are mostly either free or thrifted.

Christy said...

Wow, those are amazing finds! Here on the west coast the only free curb side items I see are couches I wouldn't let my cat sleep on. Then again, some municipalities nearby there are special "dumpster diving" days when people leave out their old crap for people to claim. Garage sales are a hot summer activity though, as well as swap meets.

Mindful Echo said...

Bedbugs have been a real problem in Halifax as well. I'm not sure I'd take anything fabric from the street, and the items I do take get a thorough wipe-down before coming into the house.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I am jealous of those finds too. Here Freecycle and Craig's List are both great ways to give away and find free stuff. said...

Wow you found a lot of good treasures, I have never tried this kind of treasure hunting.



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