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One man's garbage...
October 28, 2013 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Trashswag is a crowdsourced map for people to share and post reusable materials that they spot left outside. It is a resource for creative hobbyists, artists and people conducting renovation works to find unique, salvageable old wood, windows, doors, metal, glass and furniture. So far I think it's mostly Toronto and Montreal but is expanding to other areas.
posted by dobbs (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Love this idea, hope it takes off. Could be nicely combined with Freecycle.
posted by litleozy at 7:47 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as it doesn't turn into a hipster versus homeless person death match... First dibs to the poor, not the iPhone user with time on her hands, say I.
posted by aeshnid at 7:53 AM on October 28, 2013


After reading about the late Tiffany Sedaris last week this strikes me as something she would have appreciated.
posted by sweetkid at 7:56 AM on October 28, 2013


Wooden Crates Yo!
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:58 AM on October 28, 2013


I think it's interesting that they have standards on what they accept listings for. It makes sense, but...

I remember back when I was regularly subbed to Freecycle in Toronto, that there was a long running comment war because someone listed a carpet that had been vomited on and then rolled up and left outside in the rain. People went back and forth and forth and back on whether that sort of thing should be allowed until the person who listed it pointed out that it had been claimed within just a couple of hours of listing.

So, on the one hand, just about everything is valuable to somebody. And on the other hand, almost nobody wants to read about your vomity, rain-soaked carpet.

I live in a condo complex and we have a FB group for owners, and it's practically a swap meet on its own. And people often leave bits of furniture and things that are a bit damaged down by our garbage bins, and other than mattresses and upholstered couches with seriously messed up upholstery, they almost never stay there til garbage day. There's almost always someone else in the building who finds value in them.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:08 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


People in Victoria BC just leave old couches out on the sidewalk. Bleach.

Another time someone left a pile of junk on the sidewalk in front of our townhouse. A city worker said that it wasn't his responsibility to pick it up.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:25 AM on October 28, 2013


I routinely skip dove while I lived in England. I built a really crap glasshouse out of old single pane sash windows I collected from people who were (finally!) getting their windows redone. It turns out that building things out of mismatched materials is really pretty advanced building and requires more skill than building with new stuff and my skill and tool set wasn't up to either task.

When I moved I took the whole thing apart and listed them on ebay and they sold for over 50 quid. It turned out that one of the large windows was an antique collectible because of a small bit of stained glass. The person who bought it was sheepish about it because they felt like they were ripping me off! Meanwhile I was pretty chuffed to get any cash at all and not have to haul them to a dump. Win - Win and good for the world.

People just waste so much stuff. I often pick up stuff from my building's garbage area and take it to charity shops. I also see scavengers with trucks going around picking stuff up in Chicago which I guess are the local equivalent of England's Rag and Bone men.
posted by srboisvert at 9:00 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It turns out that building things out of mismatched materials is really pretty advanced building and requires more skill than building with new stuff and my skill

The biggest disaster I saw on C4's 'Grand Designs' was the family who tried this approach in converting an old barge to a house. It ended up with an eviction and some sort of restraining order. Looking for a link to the episode I found this tidbit as well.
posted by Flashman at 9:45 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my town folks leave all kinds of things on the curb with a free sign. Nothing, I mean even the crappiest nothing, lasts more than 15 to 30 minutes. It's remarkable.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:12 AM on October 28, 2013


I vaguely remember reading a study (possibly here on MeFi) that determined that the absolute fastest way to get rid of stuff was to put it outside with a sign that said $5. My (admittedly shoddy) recollection was that the conclusion was that if people thought it was valuable, they'd steal it faster than people would take something assumed to be relatively valueless because it was being given away for free.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:34 AM on October 28, 2013


jacquilynne: ...the absolute fastest way to get rid of stuff was to put it outside with a sign that said $5.

Look, ALL RIGHT. Not all of us joined MetaFilter back when it was free. You're great, you're cool, your UID is sixty-thousand less than mine, and you have five bucks that I do not. Can we let this die now, please?

I am, of course, kidding.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:35 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Could be nicely combined with Freecycle.

… minus the drama and the bots, please.
posted by scruss at 12:20 PM on October 28, 2013


A city worker said that it wasn't his responsibility to pick it up.

A couple of years ago, a city publication noted that they were spending about $90k a year picking up that junk. The usual garbage men can't. They have to send someone with a special truck.
posted by klanawa at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2013


...a city publication noted that they were spending about $90k a year picking up that junk.

In Providence, RI, a couple of years ago the city said they spent $200,000 in one year just getting rid of mattresses left out on the curb.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:56 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


srboisvert: " I also see scavengers with trucks going around picking stuff up in Chicago which I guess are the local equivalent of England's Rag and Bone men."

I always save my good garbage (it's called mongo, right?) for nice days when there's no rain in the forecast. We have scavengers, mostly immigrants, who come around in pickups the night before trash day looking for mostly-busted furniture, old fencing and other metal (to recycle at the metal recycler; curbside recycling only takes can-type metal), and other "good" trash. (Our trash guys pick up ANYTHING but they do ask you to call in advance if it's a couch or mattress, just so they know.) We try to put it out midafternoon the day before trash day, as visible as possible. Sometimes if it hasn't been scavenged by the next morning we put it back in the garage until next week.

Occasionally we'll post a mongo-note on CraigsList ("2400 block of N. Cranberry St: 24-year-old couch, free, one leg broken, cushions not very cushy, comes with slipcover. You'll need a truck or van and friend to help you lift. Will remove this post when it's gone."), but mostly just putting it out on the curb the scavengers take it. Our local Freecycle is sadly 90% rules lawyering, 9% people asking for free cars, and 1% people being allowed to actually post stuff and then you have to set up meeting times and stuff because they no longer allow curbside posts. One time my husband put out a lawnmower with a "free" sign and it was gone before he finished walking back up the driveway and he didn't even see who took it! Stuff that's nice enough to donate to the charity shop (they have rules) we take to the charity shop, but stuff that's not nice enough, or stuff that's like building material trash, we put out for the scavengers.

The scavengers used to go around after dark and be really jumpy -- once I ran after them saying, "Wait! I have some patio chairs, do you want them?" and they clearly thought I was coming after them to be pissed about them taking stuff from my trash (which is, technically, against the law). I don't know if it's the rise of recycling culture or people being sympathetic about the bad economy or what, but people seem more aware of and less bothered by the opportunistic trash scavengers, and the scavengers are more open and less scared.

Where I grew up, we had a "bulk garbage day" twice a year when the entire town would put out couches and chairs and other big things like that, and it was like a FESTIVAL. Everyone would go around looking at their neighbors' trash to see if there was anything they wanted, and people would come from neighboring towns to go trash shopping, and it was sort-of like a giant, free yard sale that nobody had to clean up after because the trash guys came in the special trucks and took it all. I miss that, it was great.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:54 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My council gives you four (I think) free pickups a year of items that won't fit in a rubbish bin. They seem to deliberately wait a week before pickup, and lots of stuff disappears. Weirdly (since it is actually free) my neighbours try to piggyback on my pickup by leaving their rubbish on my pile, so I have ended up with none of my rubbish available for pickup but a whole new pile that once belonged to my neighbours.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:33 PM on October 28, 2013


I belong to a buy swap sell group on Facebook that's just for my local area and members regularly post not only on their own hard rubbish (as it's known in my neck of the woods) but good stuff they've noticed on the side of the road but aren't interested in themselves. I put out a bunch of junk a few weeks ago when we moved and easily 75% of it was gone within two hours - I like to think about my terrible, handmade plant stand enjoying a new life in someone else's home.
posted by Wantok at 9:41 PM on October 28, 2013


I've had this exact idea for Dublin for about two years and never done anything about it. People hire skips when doing clear-outs or renovations, and often these skips sit on the side of the road with absolutely wonderful bits of timber, windows, furniture for days. It's really crazy what people throw out in a big renovation. I really hope this spreads to other cities!
posted by distorte at 2:48 AM on October 29, 2013


I love this, what a great idea.

My neighborhood is very big on the leaving stuff on the curb for people to take thing, but there is one house on my street (which the residents call the mud house. how do I know what it is called? because they spelled out the name on the outer wall. in mud.) that actualy manages to put out stuff so crappy that it says there for weeks. Slowly mouldering in the mud, or draped over the rotting fence. Seriously, no-one is going to take a popcorn maker that looks like it's been rubbed with machine oil, even if you put a little sign on it that says "works".
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:22 AM on October 29, 2013


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