Sunday, May 10, 2009

Trash or Treasure?

One of the biggest joys on the Ling household rubbish front is the six monthly clean up day. This fabulous Australian innovation is a nominated day for each area when the local council accepts all kinds of household goods/rubbish placed outside your house for collection. In fact the whole process could be accurately be renamed the great scavenger hunt. In a providential move the first collection of the year is generally in early February allowing all those bizarre objects that congregate over Christmas to find their way to a new home. The day before the allocated day, odd groupings of objects start to appear on the grassy verge outside houses. Families wander round the street, eyeing up the neighbours’ rejects. There is a sense of contentment when one’s own offerings disappear within minutes – my collection of outdated cookbooks vanished within 5 minutes whereas the lampshade, chic in 1990, sad in 2009, maintained a lonely vigil overnight. One friend’s husband rang her from the bus instructing her to get over to a certain street and pick up something that looked appealing. Another friend scored two bar stools that just fit under the island in her new house, but as she lifted them from outside an acquaintance’s house she felt she then had to ring and admit to the acquisition before the original owner arrived in her kitchen and did a double take at the reappearance of her trash.

The drama queens regard the whole process as a gigantic treasure hunt and to my fury we quite often end up gaining possessions rather than loosing them – mangy giant teddies are a particular favourite and I didn’t act quickly enough on a truly hideous, electric blue, child sized, stuffed, Mr Man that was ‘rescued’ last clean up and which now resides in my youngest daughter’s bedroom – perhaps this next clean up I’ll take him at least three streets away and drop him off and pray he doesn’t stage a Hansel and Gretel type reappearance.

As well as the impromptu neighbourhood scavenging there is a more organised element ranging from locals wandering around with pull along trolleys into which to pile their gleanings, to chaps with trucks who cruise the streets selecting scrap metals and desirable objects. There is a sense of purposeful organization about these men in their trucks, they obviously scour desirable suburbs having obtained a list of the clean up dates and I am sure that their pickings convert into a useful pile of cash. They must do well in our predominantly middle class suburb and there is a pleasing sense that this is recycling of household trash and treasure at its resourceful best.

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