Free stuff! For me, not for you, sorry

Once a year my local council collects and disposes of everyone’s household junk. For two or three days prior, the roadside is strewn with a hodgepodge of all things deemed too old, too broken and just too damn ugly.

It’s high time for the indiscriminate. We scavenge the wastes like hungry sharks, picking off weak and injured kitchen cabinets, coffee tables and ‘vintage’ wardrobes. It’s first come first serve, and the offerings don’t last long with so many of us circling the streets.

If I was in a less cynical mood I might make a kinder zoological comparison. Perhaps we are more like the bower bird, fastidiously furnishing our homes only with the objects that suit our taste. Some bower birds decorate their nests with pretty blue flowers; others are minimalists, opting instead for small balls of dung.

Bower bird nest, with litter taking the place of flowers.

Anyway, enough yibber yabber – I’ll get to the point. My girlfriend moved house recently (we’re not living together yet) and she has very little furniture. The junk collection couldn’t have come at a better time.

Checkout the stuff we found on the street. As you can see, it has all made its way into her new home.

Both chair and desk were bound for the landfill. Only thing wrong with the chair is missing wheels.

The padlock looks weird, I know.

Bar a small chip in the corner, this baby could've come straight from IKEA.

Desk and chair from the roadside. Not the computer, unfortunately.

Outdoor table in this indoor ex-shopfront part of the house.

Self-explanatory shelves.

When I’m standing on the street, struggling to cram a wardrobe into my tiny Ford Laser, cars streaming by, I admit I’m a little embarrassed. I sense the critical stares. “Pfft, what’s he doing? There’s an IKEA, like, down the road...” But the embarrassment is short-lived. Inside I’m proud of the fact that I’m getting my girlfriend a free queen-size bed – and all it needs is a few new bolts. Plus I’m doing something beneficial for the environment – however microscopic – by reducing the need for new production.

So, what dead and discarded treasures have you found on the street, or anywhere else, and brought back to life?

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9 Responses to Free stuff! For me, not for you, sorry

  1. I used to love dumpster diving. Lived in a apartment building that had a lot of med students. Furnished my entire apartment with stuff I found at the end of the semesters. There is no reason to be embarrassed IMO. Why should you go to Ikea and buy something if it right there in front of you ?

  2. bex says:

    excellent post! great finds!

    at various times, boxes of books. take the ones not suited to taste into the used book store and they find a new life there.

    • Beau Gamble says:

      Thanks very much! Good idea with the books – I actually came across a box full of books on the street as well. Unfortunately they’re all by one obscure author I’ve never heard of. But I’m going to try to sell them / give them away at the local second-hand market 🙂

  3. anastasiaporter says:

    About the only thing I’ve discovered were books…but I live in a neighborhood with a bunch of old people. They all stare out their windows and get angry if even a piece of grass is ‘stolen’…though I think it would be fun to go and rummage through things that are free.

    • Beau Gamble says:

      Yeah – I think some of the people here get annoyed when I look through their stuff bound for the rubbish dump. I guess it is a slight invasion of privacy… Fortunately most people don’t see it this way, though.

  4. I’m glad your expedition yielded some treasures. They are modest, but some are beautiful (that armoire!) and all practical. You’r girlfriend was quite lucky!

  5. love the dark bathroomy one, great find! we dont really have anything like that round here but im all for recycling; someone elses rubbish is another mans gold and all that. lucky her and congrats on moving into her new place.

  6. I got my baby bath from the recycling depot. It was my first pregnancy, and we were building a new house in front of ours – the job required many, many trips to the tip to dispose and recycle leftover building materials. While we were unloading, there it was – absolutely nothing wrong with it, just needed a good wash. Op shops don’t like to take baby things – too many safety concerns, but it seems such a waste to throw out perfectly good items.
    I sent my husband into the rubble to collect it – I would have got in trouble crawling in the rubbish heap at 8 months pregnant.
    Me and hubby are total bower birds. It can be embarrassing, but its worth it to reuse and recycle as much as possible.

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