The symbiotic act of garbage picking
I have no problem with garbage picking, both as a picker, and pickee. As a person who has obtained some cool stuff from other people’s garbage, I can only hope that the (former) owners of this stuff appreciate the fact that I am giving their old things a good home and preventing them from rotting in a landfill. And as someone who regularly puts unwanted items out by the curb to find that they somehow managed to magically disappear, well, let’s just say that I’m just thrilled that someone is saving me a trip to the donation bin.
The City of Ottawa has some funny rules about it. Apparently if you put something out on the curb for garbage pickup it technically belongs to the City. So if you take something out of someone’s garbage, you are stealing (that is, in the eyes of the law), although I seriously doubt that bylaw police are waiting to capture someone in the act of someone pilfering someone else’s garbage.
Same goes for recycling. There is a fellow who walks around our neighborhood and rifles though people’s blue bins, taking beer and wine bottles and anything with a deposit attached to it. I have no problem with this. In fact, I think he’s doing us a favour.
That being said, I still think there still should be a few basic guidelines.
- Pickers: don’t tear open closed bags and leave a mess.
- Pickees: if you have an item you think might be useful to someone, leave it in plain view. If it’s not gone by the next morning, bring it back inside and pledge to donate it to charity or list it on UsedOttawa. Who knows? That tiny bit of extra effort might earn you some extra coin.
A few years ago the City of Ottawa decided to get on the bandwagon and create a legally-sanctioned garbage picking event. It’s called Give Away Weekend. It’s a great idea, but more people need to participate in order to make it really worthwhile. This year’s GAW will take place on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, 2011.
It really is a win-win situation when you think about it. It’s gives people an effortless way to clean their closets, and gives other people an opportunity to score some cool stuff for free at the same time.
What about you? What do you think about taking items from another family’s trash? Is this something you’ve done? If so, I’d love to hear about your best finds!