Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flotsam #3 Rubbish

My son arrived on the long, hot toil home from school, ambling past the road side chuck-out and collecting bits and pieces as he went. Originally, it was bicycles he was intending on rebuilding but it is rapidly degenerating each day into defunct barbeques, sofa lounges and old men's suitcases.

"But look, it's got a waterproof covering!" he cried, giving me the remnants of a busted umbrella. "It's got that famous artist all over it." Van Gogh's Sunflowers. "I brought it back because I thought you would love it, Mum." Hmmm. What to do.
It calls for diplomacy, humility and the love only a mother can give, on the day you are presented with a broken umbrella by your son because it has Van Gogh's sunflowers all over it. "Take it out to the verge, son!" I tell him. "It's really pretty and I've trained you well but ..."

The city of Albany is entering a new phase in the art of recycling rubbish. Every couple of months they throw everything out of the tip shop and into the dump. It's strange policy for an administration that is trying to avoid landfill. Their next strategy is even better. It's called 'Waste Minimisation.'

Have you tried to give away a television lately?
Oven? Computer? I mean actually give it away, no strings attached. Ask your neighbour/best friend/policeman/day care lady/guy on a park bench if they want a free TV/oven/computer/printer/scanner/microwave. Odds are they will say no because they bought a you-beaut piece of shit for $29.95 just the other day from Hardly Normal, because it's cheaper to buy a new printer than replace the ink cartridge. Either that or they are hocked up to the eyeballs on G.E. Finance, trying to pay off something a whole lot more expensive.

I discovered this recently, when having to clear out two whole households of functioning electrical debris. You can't give it away.
The next step for me is to ask the Op Shops. No. Everything electrical must be certified by an electrician as being safe to use, due to State government legislation that came in about six months ago.

I finally found a nice old lady at one Op Shop, who said she would take the bedside lamp, computer monitor, scanner, television and breadmaker on the condition that she would ask for a donation only and not make a sale on the items. Blessed are the resourceful elders, hey?

The Albany Tip Shop won't take anything electrical, any soft goods such as mattresses, clothes, couches, shoes, gas appliances or toys. It has morphed into a sad arrangement of failed pottery careers, oversized,wooden balinese salad spoons and wardrobes with Lego stickers all over them. This is all down to the city's 'Waste Minimisation Strategy', something that primary school kids visit these days as part of their educational experience.

Strong words? Do you know how heart broken I was to sit two perfectly good televisions and a gas stove upright in the rain at the dump and hope that someone would take pity on them and give them a good home? Meanwhile the landfill grows at an exponential rate due to a window between the availability of cheap, expendable crap and the council's inability to deal with the resulting effluent.

I also have a grudge. This is the girl who has letters after her name, due to an unfortunate incident where I was banned for good from the tip face for 'scavenging' two dozen pots of Cymbidium orchids. I don't know anyone else who has been banned from the dump, which is why I appropriated the letters for myself. Sarah Toa.BFTT.(Grad Dip.)

(I think after that spray I will have to find a use for the Van Gogh umbrella.)


  1. It is a bizarre situation and there is surely a opportunity for someone to start an electrical waste recycling business.
    I have also resorted to the custom letters after the name thing at times. Generally occurring after having to deal with a guitarist with many official letters after their name but little idea of how to actually play the instrument.
    Robin Thomson CPG!

  2. I am SOOOO with you on this. I am appalled at the COA's pathetic excuse for a recycling facilty. All aimed at the usual arse-covering. As an artist I am extremely disappointed when I go there to procure interesting junk to recycle into art.
    In the early 80's there used to be a place in Claremont that we were sent to as art students to get free materials for making art - tiles, coloured spaghetti wire, industrial sized spools and all manner of great stuff. Maybe we could set something like that up here?
    But hey, another good outcome of the 'global financial crisis' is that China will produce less of this shit. Spoken like a true fiscal anarchist.

  3. "Hardly Normal, he takes what you got" I thought I was the only one who remembered that.

    Well said Sarah. We have chucked away some perfectly good stuff in our time. I currently have a really good printer in the cupboard. Anyone live nearby who wants it?

    When I was a struggling single mum, I was so grateful for the stuff people would give us, the black vinyl lounge suite that we'd stick to in the Summer. The dining table and chairs (also with vinyl seats), rugs to put on our bare unpolished floorboards to keep out the Winter cold.

    Banned from the tip? How do they do that exactly?

  4. It is possible to recycle this stuff, i talked to a lady today who runs an i.t. fixit business and they recycle just about everything.

    Oh the days of the black vinyl couch ...
    It's easy to get banned from the tip. A guy in a hat comes out as you try to sneak through with the van heavier than when you went in and says "That's it! I've been told to tell you, you are banned for life!"
    When I returned months later, he gave me a strange cookie as a peace offering.

  5. thank god for that! i was starting to get really stressed here! fancy trying to ban you.
    saw a "no diving" on a skip at uni the other day, a gi-normous skip full of copper wire and perfectly functional office furniture and and and...! i didn't have my car. goddam, waste makes me mad! a lot of streeties make a living recycling metal here - probably just from the uni bins.

    i used to collect broken umberallas - i always feel quite sorry for them.

  6. There's nothing sadder than a broken umbrella, although dead stalks of sweetcorn come close.

  7. Sarah Toa.BFTT.(Grad Dip.)
    :) Hey, I would have thought you'd be Sarah Toa PhD (painfully hard diggings) :) it is a gardener's degree!!

  8. For streetwear and quality stereophonics, the Albany tip shop doesn't even come close to Balcatta. It doesn't hold a candle to it. And of course you couldn't hold a candle to it from the Albany tip shop anyway, because they won't recycle them in case you burn yourself and sue the City of Albany.

    I got my $500 Italian-designed art director prescription frames from the Balcatta tip shop. Fifty cents!

    It only occurred to me afterwards that perhaps someone had just put them down momentarily to look more closely at those LP records...