Once a month, the town in which I live has Bulk Trash Day. You put out your trash that doesn’t fit in the can–everything from roofing shingles to tree trimmings, and the city comes along with a front loader and a trash truck. The rules have some twists to them, which are mysteriously left out of the town’s website.
We are moving into a smaller place, so a lot of items went out tonight, including some bookcases that would not hold books any more. (Who builds bookcases that can’t take the load of a shelf full of books? I’ve been told that I should add some knick-knacks to make the shelves lighter. These are bookcases, people, build them to hold books.)
Two of them are ones I rescued from the curb when I was living here in a bare-bones apartment, waiting
for the house in D.C. to sell. They were not pretty, but sturdy, and they got a new coat of paint, light-up shelves, and stayed. I can do without a dining room set, but I can’t do without bookcases.
Quite a lot of bulk items are outside, including a coffee table, a freezer, and a side table that has been next to my desk for more than five years, holding everything from a printer to one (or more) of the cats.
There is another tradition in the area, one that I love. My neighbors don’t, and I’m not quite sure why. Starting in the afternoon, trucks cruise the Bulk Trash Day neighborhoods. Some belong to pickers looking for finds, others by second-hand store dealers looking for items that can be fixed or re-sold, and quite a few trucks are driven by the poor who are looking to furnish a house from the curb.
I’m getting rid of items, so it’s all fine with me. The less goes into the landfill, the better it is. My neighbors worry that this parade of pick-ups will ruin the neighborhood, and that trash meant for the landfill should not be touched. My opinion is that if I don’t want it and someone else does, all the better.
Some of the prouder (and poorer) trucks go by after dark. About half the items we put out are gone. The bookcases remain, as I thought they would. There are some charities that won’t take bookcases anymore. No one needs them anymore. Maybe there aren’t as many knick-knack owners out there, either. In any case, when I hear the trucks slowing down, I wonder what catches the driver’s eye. I hope it’s something that makes them smile.
—Quinn McDonald freecycles on the curb.