Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle!

I have just watched "An Inconvenient Truth" on DVD a little while ago and I take heart with what Mr. Al Gore is trying to say. I already do my part in recycling and reuse by taking aluminum cans and newspapers to the recycle center, going to reuse shops such as thrift stores, yard sales (I know it's not a shop, but you know what I mean!) and used book stores (why buy new when I can get a used book for $4 instead of $20) and by growing much of our own vegetables and canning the surplus. I know there is more that I could do to help save energy and reduce carbon emissions and I have visited the website: www.ClimateCrisis.net for more tips. You can click on the link and see for yourself.

I have always felt I was a bit old-fashioned and I actually enjoy doing things like hanging clothes out to dry on the line outside (*sniff* nothing beats the scent of clothes dried outside), growing my own food (you know organic foods taste so much better!), making and canning jams and tomatoes, etc., and making do with what I have instead of replacing something that could be fixed. I can appreciate the old mentality of saving scraps of cloth and using them as rags, or as part of a quilt or in my case, making a rag rug. 'Waste not, want not' was something I didn't fully understand up until a few years ago when I had started my own family and realized that if I threw something away that was still perfectly good, but had no use for it at the time, I would be wishing I had it later on and thinking "such a waste!" Hence- 'Waste not, want not'.

Before we moved, we lived in a town that was very gung-ho on recycling and encouraged it. We took our trash to the landfill and discovered the most wonderful thing ever and something I sorely miss to this day. Along with the usual receptacles to drop off your sorted glass, metals, plastics, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, yard waste, paint and chemicals, computer and electronics, used oil, clothing and fabrics, and finally household trash, there was also a shed labeled "Trash or Treasure." If you had a sofa that was too good to throw away, but you didn't want it anymore, you could drop it off in the shed and people could come by and take it-- free! You could drop off almost anything, and there would be attendants there to help you decide if it was worth putting there or to put in the trash bin. Hubby and I were there practically every weekend taking things and half our house was furnished with other people's cast-offs. I found a lovely antique arm chair with carved ball and claw feet and all it needed was re-upholstery. Hubby has found countless toy cars to add to his collection. We found play sets for the children to play on outside, including a barbie jeep for them to drive around in, in perfect condition and all it needed was a new battery. I also have what I consider one of my prized possessions-- a 1880's cupboard that was obviously kept in the barn (as in covered with poo, spiders and webs, and a mouse gnawed a hole through the back to make a home in the drawer) and when I cleaned it I found on the underside of the drawer a date and name. It is beautiful and I have gotten lots of compliments and I love to shock by saying, "I got it from the trash!"

To me, that is the ultimate in recycling-- instead of throwing away something that is perfectly good, you are just merely tired of looking at it, take it to the Trash or Treasure shed and let someone else have it. The landfill here, in our new town, in a new state, doesn't have a Trash or Treasure shed. Doesn't even have an aluminum recycling receptacle. All they have is one big bin you dump everything into, and they will then use a bull dozer to transfer the trash into a dump truck and then take the trash and dump it into an abandoned coal mine somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. I am appalled.

Hubby took the trash one day, and when he got there, he saw a great looking wooden rocking chair. He asked if he could take it and they told him he couldn't. They weigh your vehicle before you go in, then weigh you again on your way out. They calculate the difference in weight and tell you what you need to pay. So if you took something from the trash, your weight would be different and you'd pay less. But what if you were to take said rocking chair out before you get weighed on the exit, the answer was still "no". How maddeningly frustrating that is!!! To see something that could be rescued and save a little room in the landfills and not being able to do it. The only option I can see is to lobby the county and demand they set up a Trash or Treasure site, or to stand outside the gates and inspect each passing vehicle for worthy items and ask if I can have it before they go in.

This is why I want to open my own thrift shop, because there is no place here that takes perfectly good rocking chairs and sofas and books and then offer them to the public at low prices. I want to catch those items and breathe new life into them and let other people fall in love with your old Pyrex dishes or dining room set. I love seeing something that has been around for 50+ years and seeing a new generation "discover" it and updating it in fresh style. I'll take your cracked plates and smash it and use the pieces to make a mosaic top for a scratched-beyond-repair table. I'll take that sheet with a hole in it and rip it up some more to make a rug. Make something new from something old. Ask around before you throw away your dishes-- maybe someone knows a young couple just starting out and don't have the funds to buy all they need. If you can, put it out on the curb with a "FREE" sign and I guarantee you, it'll be gone by the end of the day. You will have made space in your home, but more importantly, you'll have recycled and helped someone out.

11 comments:

fintan said...

I was amazed when I stayed in USA few years back and the family I stayed with had a tumble drier on despite being boiling hot outside.
Here in UK we always hang out our washing despite it always rain here :-(

Sparx said...

It's what I hate about living where I do - while they take recycling from us in special bags on Wednesdays, there's still so much we can't recycle. What we used to do when I lived in Toronto was just to put stuff out on the curb and sure enough, someone would take it. We used to call it 'fishing'. Sometimes we'd catch a good one, sometimes we'd 'throw something back'. Most of my apartment furniture came from the street which shocks some people but it was all perfectly lovely wooden furniture that just needed a clean. The worst think was once a friend of mine found a washing machine in working order but it was full of cockroaches and it took him ages to get rid of them!

Wish I had a garden big enough to grow veggies - one day maybe...

lady macleod said...

Well done!

The recycling done here is much like your "trash or treasure" site I think. One of the lovely things is that you never have to worry over waste when you don't take home from the restaurants your left overs - it always gets eaten by people who come in the back, or beggars who are in need - the staff and owners see to it.

I am not handy like you at remaking items, but I am very big on giving things away if I am not using them, or if I get something new.

The Good Woman said...

While I am impressed with the 'institutional' recycling opportunities here in Scotland, I still think I waste much more than I did in Africa. There I NEVER threw food away and almost everything I wanted to discard became someone elses treasure.

I love your idea for a shop. Give it a go!

DJ Kirkby said...

I adore line dried clothes and good thing too as not a lot of choice otherwise in England as the driers are rubbish! We grow our own fruit and are trying tomatoes this year. Our compost bin is filling nicley but has so many flies inside it, little pale midgy type ones. Any idea what they are and how and why they arrived? Number 3 son is very into planting and watering the flower beds and garden which is great therapy for all of us.

jenny said...

F--I think people here have forgotten how to slow down and appreciate the simpler things in life. Thanks for stopping by.

S--Country folks are pretty much on your own when it comes to recycling, so we make a special effort to take our cans and papers to the recycle centers. I do miss the city "fishing" but the yard sales up here more than make up for it!

Perhaps a container garden? All you need is a big bucket, dirt and a tomato plant....

Lady M-- I admit, sometimes I draw a blank on what to do with some things-- so I toss and then sure enough, I see the very thing used in a completely new way and I give my forehead a smack!!

My home isnt totally buried with stuff I cant bear to part with, we DO make regular trips to the charity shops and donate used items. I am glad to know that you give away and not throw away!

GW-- We are TRYING to find a location to open a shop and then of course, gather the funds to pay the lease. I am hoping 2008 will find me as a shop-owner. Wish me luck!

DJ-- All sorts of bugs make the compost bin their home. We also have a clever mole living under there (hmm, I'm hungry--I shall grab a rotten apple core for a snack). Don't mind the bugs, after you take a shovel full of compost from the bottom and add it to the garden plot, the bugs will fly away, slither away, or burrow away and you are left with nice black soil. Enjoy the gardening with Number 3 son!

JE4115 said...

I AM DEAF ALSO AND REALLY ENJOY YOUR BLOG. HERE'S SOMETHING THAT MAY BE OF HELP TO YOU IN RE TO RECYCLING: YAHOO HAS LOCAL GROUPS OF 'FREECYCLERS' IN MANY COUNTRIES & STATES. DEPENDING UPON WHERE YOU LIVE, THERE MAY BE ONE NEAR YOU. YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT AT http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=FREECYCLE
I BELONG TO A GROUP IN THE TWIN CITIES (MN). IT'S A WONDERFUL WAY TO FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN USE THE THINGS THAT YOU NO LONGER WANT OR NEED. (1) YOU POST AN 'OFFER' W/A SHORT DESCRIPTION AND YOUR CITY OR LOCATION IN THE SUBJECT LINE. (2) THEN YOU GIVE MORE INFO ABT THE ITEM(S) IN THE BODY OF YOUR MSG. ALL THAT YOU HAVE TO DO W/OFFERS IS SET UP A PKUP DATE/TIME W/THE PERSON WHO RESPONDS AND THEN PUT THE ITEM OUTSIDE FOR PKUP. THE PICNIC TABLE IN MY BKYARD IS THE PKUP PLACE OF CHOICE FOR ME. (YOU CAN ALSO FIND THINGS THAT OTHERS ARE OFFERING). (3) YOU MAY EVEN POST 'WANTED' ITEMS. I HAVE REC'D MANY MUCH-NEEDED ITEMS AND GOTTEN RID OF NUMEROUS STILL GOOD THINGS USING FREECYCLE. YOU CAN ALSO START YOUR OWN GROUP IF THERE IS NONE IS YOUR AREA. RULES MAY VARY BY AREA. GOOD LUCK TO YOU ON THIS. JANIE IN MINNEAPOLIS

jenny said...

Hi Janie-- Thanks for coming by!! I know of Freecycle and was a member where we used to live. Havent gotten around to joining up here or if they have one here. I should check! Thanks for reminding me about Freecycle! It's been long 2 years since i thought about it!

sufferingsummer said...

I'm so sorry your husband couldn't bring home the rocker, that would probably make me cry. When I was 8 and went to the dump with my Dad (the kids traded off each week as it was such a treat!) I remember having to throw away our beloved couch. I sat in the back of our VW van and clutched one of the cushions like it was the last thing on earth, I just cried and cried, I couldn't imagine throwing away this friend. Had there been a trash or treasure house I think my poor little 8 year old heart would have been spared because I would have imagined another family falling in love with our couch.
I must check into this around here as all we have is the typical recycling options...most of our furniture is hand me downs from various friends and family who were just going to toss them...I live in my own little trash as treasure shack!
I loved this post, thanks for sharing.

jenny said...

SS-- I have to say, I am amazed at how many people out there are like me and get their hand-me-down furniture from friends and family, and rescue things from the trash. The media sure has a way of making people feel inadequate because they didnt buy a brand new couch at Snobby's Furniture House!

You have just given me a topic to talk about in a future post... We sold our house and moved into a little RV when I was about 6 and that was devasting to me-- my toys! My room! My bed! Gone!!

Lisa C. said...

Welcome to a club! I was born to recycle. I let my junks become someone else'e treasures. I often had several garage sales earning $$$$. There was a Trash or Treasure shed by the landfill in our hometown when we took boxes there for recycling last year after moving here.

When I was growing up, I had collected comic books everytime I saw them at the landfill when My dad emptied his truck. I guess I had up to over 50.