Sunday, November 02, 2008

Inorganics: A New Zealand Yard Sale?

You can learn a lot about people by digging through their trash!

I think it is twice a year that each selected neighborhood in New Zealand puts out their trash that is too big to be recycled or thrown away, and at the end of the week a truck comes by and picks it all up. The rules are basically nothing bigger than what two man can carry and a few other stipulations like no building supplies. (you can read more at the government site if you want more details)So you drive through different neighborhoods and you see streets that look like this. Sometimes there are big mounds with sofas, carpets, & bookshelves and sometimes they are more mediocre baskets and cardboard. You can see at the bottom of the picture above, that Graeme and I put out a microwave that someone took in less than a day, but left the top cover.

For us more resourceful people... or cheap people... It is like shopping heaven! You see people wander and digging through other people's lost treasures or junk only to find just what they need. They see potential and purpose in something that had lost this for someone else. Really interesting.

I found a desk stool that lifts up and down with the lever for my room.(below)
I don't know how correct or unfair it is, but i have been told that one stereotype is that whenever inorganics comes around, you are bound to see islanders in vans and trailers jumping out and picking things up. I am not sure how much i would go with the islander thing, but i did see plenty of full vans and trailers perusing our neighborhood this labor day holiday weekend.
The things i noticed:
  1. Common things thrown out included: Printers, carpet, couches, broken chairs, computer screens, & other misc.
  2. Reactions from Kiwi people varied EXTREMELY from: it's an embarrassment, it's disgusting, it's a disgrace, i hate the utter chaos VS. it is quite good, quite ingenious really, it's fun shopping, and it serves a purpose.
  3. It is amazing what people throw out. Things that could originally cost hundreds of dollars are just chucked outside onto the rainy roadside with little care.
  4. The saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure" was so true hear!
  5. I am cheap and take no shame in using secondhand possessions that just need a little loving.
Inorganics was one of those things that I got really excited about it coming and everyone native to New Zealand just looked at me weird. good times, good times.


Jacobunny said...

I'm with you Brent!

I love the whole recycle/reuse principle. Many of my old student flats were stocked in couches due to past inorganic collections. Just today Melissa and I got a set of cool old inbetween size coffee cups - smaller than a mug, bigger than a demitasse (espresso shot cup) - from a local hospice store we stumbled upon.

I have a thing for stuff that has a story - which is why i often gravitate towards second hand items even if i have money for new versions.

Admittedly with inorganic collections the streets can end up looking a bit shabby though. The worst is when someone ignores the fact that the pickup has been and dumps all their crap on the street-side a week too late! But I think the benefits far outweigh the short-term eyesore.

PS: Nice find with your chair!

B said...

hahaha. i love that you mentioned the people dumping their junk out too late!

That is actually a good idea... it really would be good to have certain places or favorite small businesses that you visit whenever organics come around...

I was tempted multiple times to pick things up for cession from little plastic kids tables and chairs, plastic tables for yard furniture, etc.

Good times good times.

Maybe we should get a van and have an inorganics shopping day together sometime in the future!!! :)

Sarah said...

hi brent - welcome back to NZ! we love reading your blog, you do such a good job of encompassing NZ culture, and you keeping your blog up to date! we suck at it, so we send people to yours. Anyway, hope to meet someday. It will most likely happen as the Christian community in NZ is very small (like everything else) and I already know a handful of people you know, and/or know you. so yes, welcome back and thanks again for your posts! - Sarah and Ken (Dan E's friends from Holland who live on the shore)