Week 31: Reclaim!

It’s been quieting down around this little blog, and the anticipation of Christmas (and three exams!) has kept me on my feet non-stop. I wish I could tell you that I exclusively give experience gifts for Christmas, which are both zero waste and super non-consumerist. But I have to admit that’s rather tough when your whole family lives in a different country, so there will be a few material – although not unnecessarily wasteful – gifts under the tree this year.

But enough of Christmas: I can’t give away what I’m giving just yet or I’ll spoil the surprise! Instead of giving, I’d like to talk about taking. Taking things that would otherwise go to waste. I’ve had countless examples in the past, and if you raise some awareness in your mind about the issue, waste will lurk around every corner. And it can be a burden to be the one that hates waste (I’m thinking about you, old t-shirts that have been sitting in the corner for months waiting to be re-purposed! And you, heaps of batteries and electrical waste that i just haven’t managed to bring to the recycling centre yet).

But what about those things that OTHERS throw away, which you know could easily be given to someone else who will need it? Do you take it? Or do you leave it, hoping to educate the culprit for the future so he/she won’t do it again?

Needless to say, I’m more of the “take-it” type. In the past, I’ve took home items that shops wanted to bin, such as some bric-a-brac from the charity shops and a half-rotten apple from Tesco (it did look like you could still eat most of it, but turns out that beast was rotten to the core!)

In my former workplace, which was a cafรฉ, I started to take home filled bread rolls that were left by the end of the day and unfit for selling the next day. On weekends, I got as many as 14 which I passed on to students to eat for free. I’d like to say it was because of that (and not because of stricter policy…) that my workplace started a food collection and reduced their food waste by a lot. (But yeah, I know it wasn’t really me. Nice fantasy, though)

Me and my boyfriend have recently had our personal peak at reclaiming others’ rubbish. The charity shop next door closed and literally all the stock that was unsold landed in their bins. It was a disgrace to look upon, especially because we share the same bin area in our flat. You can guess what we did!

My boyfriend was the true initiator, making me aware of the huge amount of perfectly good items which, because they were considered not sellable, were just thrown out! Perfectly good and partly valuable items!! Well, in two bin-binge-sessions, we pulled out, among others: watches (some of which bear a not insignificant value), dozens of digital cameras (of the old type, of course), several wooden and metal baskets (I have a bike basket now!), a walking cane, a wind-up radio, a polaroid camera, Christmas cards, a Scrabble game, a first aid kit, and other bits and bobs. An actual employee of the store turned up (I guess he was concerned by the guy-diving-into-a-wheelie-bin noise), but then seemed rather confused when his brain thought of a reason we shouldn’t be taking anything out. In the end he just went: “I guess you can take what you want…”. This might also be due to our accusing looks when we asked him: “Are throwing ALL THIS away!?”You can refer to the pictures below for a small selection of perfectly good items which we rescued that day.

There was so much more in there, but we couldn’t take everything, (also considering a lot of it was old VHS and cassettes which might only be of use for actual collectors…). Of course we’re not intending to keep it all (that would counter my minimalist instincts), but we will assess what might be handy and freecycle the rest. One man’s trash and stuff, you know!?

Now, your turn! Have you ever went to look around someone else’s trash and pulled out stuff? What happened? Did you feel guilty or rather happy that you’re saving things from certain doom? It’s a rather strange topic, I admit, but if we raise awareness of the amount of waste we produce, we should maybe consider that just because things are in the bin doesn’t mean we lost the battle!! ๐Ÿ™‚

This just a very small selection of things we found. As I said, very small indeed…


9 thoughts on “Week 31: Reclaim!

  1. Brian says:

    There are some lovely things there. My recent one was earlier this week, I had a bit of a family gathering… it turned out mum had cooked enough food for ten people when there were only nine of us… at the end all the “scraps” got put onto one plate, which mum was going to put into the bin… I objected, seeing that there was a whole meal there (and considered all the people who go without)… I enjoyed those left-overs the next day and it avoided me having to cook that day too.


  2. made right (here) says:

    Wow – love the boxes, scrabble and the clock! Every save out of landfill counts ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder why the charity shop didn’t advertise : “Everything must go – all items for free” before they locked up..?
    Good post!


    • Annika says:

      I think it all comes down to bad management. The value of keeping the shop open without raising funds must have not appealed them as much as just getting rid of it. Even though they could have offered a discount: some of the price tags on the items were just too high!


  3. Julia says:

    The amount of waste in our society these days is astonishing. Just because we don’t value it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Then again, the best thing is when we produce less in the first place obviously. Kudos to you two for saving the useful stuff! Every bit not going to landfill helps.


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