No More Careless Abandon

The problem is the solution. It is only the way we see things that makes them advantageous or not.’

Bill Mollinson – Permaculture a Designer’s Manual

I am really excited to do a few posts about ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ as I have been working hard to try and reduce my rubbish output…but more on that another day.

Today is the day I put forward the topic of hard rubbish. I have recently become quite the hard rubbish watchman. We have a tight budget here and with my growing knowledge about sustainability and oil reserves – I am keen to reuse as much as possible, while spending as little as possible – especially on ‘new’ things.  So whenever I drive past a hard rubbish pile I keep my eyes open for any little treasures – old chicken wire, agi-pipe/hose, old pots etc – Bill Mollinson reminds us that everything and anything can be utilized if we think about it in the right way, all problems have a solution depending on how we think about them, who we ask and how long we are willing to wait. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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I found this beautiful blue pot on the side of the road…a little silicone down the side and it’s ready to go again! Why don’t we repair things anymore?
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Old pallets are everywhere and I have read account for a considerable percentage of wood used globally (When you think about it we see them everywhere – all that wood!) So finding pallets for my compost stall was easy.
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I grabbed some old pipe off hard rubbish to use as a drainage pipe for my foray into all things wicking.

Collecting bits and bobs from hard rubbish has definitely made me a more patient person – I resist the temptation to duck into ‘Bunnings’ to buy things which I know will pop up in some form or another, somewhere along the way. Our lives have succumbed to quick, ready, fast, take and toss ways of living and if we were more willing to put a little work in to collect, repair or mend items, I have no doubt we could probably build a house out of perfectly good, perfectly functional items – saving us and the planet thousands of dollars each. Imagine if we were all legally bound to first advertise the things we were going to throw away on a community forum similar to Freecycle? Imagine how many of the things that go to landfill would be redistributed and reutilized amongst our community.

My husband is from Nigeria and after visiting a few times, it’s starkly apparent that we throw so much away and waste so much here with such careless abandon. My husband is always quite shocked to see so much hard rubbish and he constantly wishes he could ship it all home to Lagos, because there (though sadly littered with plenty of rubbish) perfectly good things never go to waste and in the right hands everything has a second, third and fourth utility. (If you are interested in seeing this in action – type ‘Welcome To Lagos BBC’ into YouTube for some thought provoking BBC videos about ways of living and surviving that are examples of what is going on all over Africa, and I’m sure around the world)

Being new to the game I do have a few questions though – Are there any unspoken hard-rubbish rules? I feel a sense of trepidation whenever I see something I know is of value – will the people who live there see me, what will they be thinking? I worry that one day someone will come running out shouting ‘Don’t touch that!’ Has anyone had any weird or wonderful hard-rubbish moments that they would be happy to share?  – I would also love to hear of anything you have found that you have managed to recycle and use in a unique way – especially in the garden? I love inspiration…And I also love a good challenge! I spoke to Karen the other day and in-lieu of this post and her really cleaver use of milk jugs we want to set a recycling challenge for the next few weeks. So here it is we hope you will join in!

CFS Recycling Challenge

Have you, can you or do you re-use/recycle something in your home or garden?? Found a hard-rubbish gem lately that you have refashioned into something unique? Got an idea for all those tins/bottles/cartons you’ve been storing away for a rainy day that you can share?

No idea or use is too wild or wacky –, recycle it before March 20th, 2015, and send us a picture and caption via the site, of what you have done.

Karen or I are hoping to approach some local garden centers to perhaps get a little prize for the most ‘recycle-able recycler’.

Looking for some inspiration? Check out ‘The Thrifty Gardener’ by Millie Ross at your local library or a blog post by The Empress of Dirt titled ‘How to Grow A Dream Garden on $100 a year.’ http://empressofdirt.net/cheapgardenideas/ and if you aren’t already subscribed, check out Freecycle http://my.freecycle.org/ I am a member of the Knox and Lilydale ‘groups’ and get regular emails of things people are giving away for free or things that they are looking for from others.

DISCLAIMER: We advise that you be sure to check your local council website for their rules and regulations so that you are fully informed before taking hard-rubbish. Otherwise please consider to knock and ask before taking.

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3 thoughts on “No More Careless Abandon

  1. On the point about hard rubbish rules, I know that councils do not allow scavenging and I’ve read news of people being fined for taking from hard rubbish piles. I’m not sure why but I suspect one of the reasons could be due to some scavengers messing up the piles. Personally, I would be very happy for people to be able to use what I can’t and save it from landfill. Due to the local laws, I avoid looking through hard rubbish. Although if it’s something on our street, I sometimes can’t help it! I have since decided that I’ll knock on the door to ask first which should then make it legal? The only problem is that you might be disturbing the person behind the door 😦 That’s why I really like the idea of Freecycle. That still doesn’t mean I can go past very useable things on hard rubbish piles, without thinking of the possibility of ‘saving’ them.

    1. Oh my goodness Karen I had no idea! (I learn so much from you!) Well I guess I have written about a slightly controversial topic then. My mum has always collected bits and pieces and you see so many people doing it. A guy up the road from me I’m pretty sure makes a decent living out of it! Wow i have learnt something new today! It seems like a pretty rediculous rule though – prevent small quantities of rubbish being scattered and send large quantities to landfill – we are encouraged by council to recycle but only in ways that they deem appropriate. Has any of our readers actually been fined or know anyone fined for this?

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