Sunday, February 25, 2007

Neighbourhood Recycling

Ed, my husband, is naturally reserved. He wouldn't dream of asking the neighbours if we could scavenge through their rubbish. My sister, Steph, on the other hand is blessed with no reservations whatever. So it was she who knocked next door and asked if we could have their old paving slabs when she saw theywere laying new paving in their garden. So now we have a heap of used paving slabs which we can either use in our garden to create new stepping stones in the lawn, or use on the allotment to define permanent paths between the cultivated beds.

I'm glad she did, because very soon afterwards the same neighbour knocked here to ask if we also wanted their old picnic table instead of throwing it on the skip. We have a couple of small-scale construction projects in mind and the table is made of good seasoned planks which would be great for the purpose.

In future I'll be more bold about asking for things I need which others are throwing away. As well as sometimes being told "Yes, help yourself", you also sometimes get offered other things you didn't know about.


Isabella said...

Hi Melanie,

I have just started my own blog and discovered yours. It's interesting and beautifully done and I've already added it to my links.

Before I had my allotment I was also rather reserved. But when I discovered the price for raised bed kits, cold frames and the like I threw reservation aside and started asking people for bits and pieces.

To begin with I got permission from a local flooring company to help myself to pallets that were stacked outside just waiting to be disposed of. So whenever I went by I would load a pallet into my car and drop it off at the allotment. Soon I had enough to create a small fence between my plot and a neglected one backing mine. Now I am making myself a compost box with them.

Next I asked a neighbour who was getting new windows whether I could have some of the old glass panes. She gladly agreed. When I showed off my treasure to my son-in-law he mentioned that he might have some useful materials too and promptly brought me planks of wood and panes of glass and offered to help me make some raised beds and cold frames.

You are right, Melanie. It doesn't hurt to ask.

dibnah said...

I have started to become less reserved when it comes to getting something for free or reusing something that would otherwise be in landfill.

Melanie Rimmer said...

Hi Isabella, thanks for your nice comments about the blog. I have linked back to yours and I hope other bean-sprouts readers will visit it too. It is listed as "Organic Vegetable Growing" in the "Self Sufficiency Links" section.

Lesley said...

It never hurts to ask! Often people are glad to have stuff taken away, so you are doing them, as well as yourself a favour.
Dave made my greenhouse staging from old pallets.
As well as enjoying our gardening,we do voluntary work for the RSPCA, and when we met an old friend last week for the first time in years, he gave us contacts for carpenters who are only too glad for us to go regularly to collect their waste sawdust, instead of their having to pay to get rid of it. This is great news for the cash-strapped animal centre as it is needed for the small animals, and we have been paying for it elsewhere until now!
They also give away firewood... so we have put another friend with a stove in touch with them too.
Everyone's rubbish is somebody else's treasure!

Vashti said...

People leave some astonishing things at the wheely bins outside our flats. I got one of my bookcases from there, and today we were heading off to the shops only to find that someone had abandoned a perfectly good solid wood rocking-chair behind the bin! I've always wanted a rocking chair, so now it's in our kitchen waiting to be cleaned up.

It's amazing what people simply throw away.

Lesley said...

Yes vashti, I think the 'behind the bin' is important. We spent six years sailing around the Med, and in marinas it was common practice to put things you thought might be useful to somebody else 'near to, but not in' the waste bins. This was recognised as a way of saying 'please recycle me'. Useless rubbish would be put straight in, interesting unwanted titbits would be left alongside. It always gave people great pleasure when their offerings were taken up!

Hedgewizard said...

There is a flipside to this - when we moved here we started scavenging for old wood to burn for the winter, and asked a few souls if the wood they had leaning against walls etc was there for the taking. One day I came home to find the driveway obstructed by about two hundred old (and sadly ruined) 5cm x 50cm floorboards; a Kindly Neighbour had told the builders we'd be glad of them. They are canadian oak, and hard enough to take the edge off a chainsaw... I'm still axing them into splinters in quiet moments 18 months later.

elitrope said...

Asking for something that another is throwing out, I've discovered is also another way of meeting and getting to know ones neighbors. I think many people would rather know their discarded item is going to good use than simply wasting away in the landfill. No shame here. Good score.

John Curtin said...

Crikey! That's an old picnic table. What's wrong with it. Nothing!

Melanie Rimmer said...

There's nothing wrong with it, but the neighbours don't want it anymore, and we don't really want a picnic table. My dad in Eire does, but there's no sensible way to get it to him. On the other hand, we do want some seasoned planks of wood, so it makes sense to disassemble it and turn it into something useful.

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