4 - 2010

How do you toss your BIG trash?

Photo by randomidea

The photo with this post isn’t really on my block, but it could be.

Last weekend, I spent a day going through our basement, rearranging rooms and getting rid of some unused items. One of those was a twin-size mattress we are no longer using. I wound up posting it to our local Freecycle organization Web site, and someone near me claimed it. I was able to cram it into my car along with a load of goods to donate to Goodwill and deliver it to the taker. Yippee, another item saved from the landfill!

Imagine my dismay when the next day I looked outside, and our neighbors had plopped down a queen size mattress and box spring and the bed frame for trash pickup. OK, some mattresses are truly worn out and can’t be reused anymore. But the bed frame looked fine — and even if it wasn’t, surely the metal could at least be reused instead of landfilled.

Then, to continue my garbage-related emotional roller-coaster, I was getting into my car to take Mlle. Cheap to school when a pickup pulled up. It had a rack on the back and was already loaded with an old refrigerator. The driver hopped out, broke down the bed frame in about 30 seconds and put it in his truck. He quickly scanned the more promising trash piles on our street before moving on.

I’ve seen these gleaner-recyclers before. They trawl the streets on large-item-pickup days, which in our area have been reduced to once every month or two instead of twice a week — a schedule that probably simplifies their large-item recycling. I’ve heard before that they either sell the metal to scrap yards, or repair and resell appliances — some domestically, some to locations in Mexico, where poor but practical consumers are more concerned with whether a refrigerator keeps things cool than whether it looks cool.

I was glad to see him at work this week — and glad that the sight inspired a discussion with Mlle. Cheap, who observed, “People are so wasteful nowadays. It’s really shocking.” We talked about some ways we already have reduced our use and waste, and some ways we could do more.

What do you do with these types of items? Share your tips with the rest of us, please!

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