Tuesday 10 June 2008

Recycling, reclaiming, reusing

Tuesday is bulk uplift day in my street, and on a Monday night, everyone start putting out their junk. Some items are more junky than others - boxes and things which have clearly broken - but other items could be re-used. I often feel like adopting some of these unloved pieces of furniture as some of them are in quite good condition, but I know I don't have the room.

In my living room, there's a prime example of what can be saved - it came from the bins near Partick Station. I was going back to the City Chambers that day after dropping off some shoes at the cobblers on Dumbarton Road, and there it was. I stopped for a minute and stared at it. Oval, sixties, with a glass top. Pretty thing. Did it belong to anyone? I was looking around, trying to decide if I could lift it and if I could how I would get it home, when a van drew up next to me. A guy jumped out and said "I just threw that out this morning hen, if you want it, take it!". It turns out he was from the second-hand furniture shop across the road, and couldn't sell it. I picked it up, and took it back to the office on the train. After a brief stay there, it is now in my home, and very lovely it is too. Cleaned up nicely, and I'll re-varnish it when I get time. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, but if I hadn't picked it up it would most likely be in a landfill site.

This morning, I saw two lovely dining chairs among a big pile of stuff outside my flat waiting for collection. Solid wood, just in need of a varnish and maybe being re-covered. I couldn't bear the thought of them being chucked, so I dragged them up the stairs to my flat. I don't know if I'll have room for them or not, but the bin lorry has just been and I feel I did the right thing.

I understand that people's tastes and needs change but there's no need for good furniture to be thrown out like this, none at all. Glasgow City Council have recently supported the Glasgow Furniture Initiative to pick up and prepare furniture for re-use. This furniture can then be sold on at reasonable prices to people on low incomes. There are lots of other such schemes in the city, such as those listed on Glasgow Greenmap. This is good for the environment and good for society; I very much hope it's a success.

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