As the name of this post suggests, I'm in Budapest - arrived here about a week and a half ago to find grand and slightly crumbling architecture, a very wide river, incredible thermal baths and...
Loads and loads of it.
And they seem to have it here but on a mega huge scale. And it also seems that people make a real day of it; they come out in groups with trolleys and big bags and have a brilliant scavenge. Then at the end of the day, the council takes the real refuse - the stuff that absolutely no-one wants - on to the recycling plant (one hopes).
It seems to be a pretty efficient way of doing it: there are a few days' opportunity when the streets are a bit of a pigsty, but everyone was out enjoying the sunshine (in this case at least), finding use for things that others don't want and rehabilitating them.
Here's a good blog post I found explaining a bit more about the day, and some of the tensions that surround it in Budapest: http://horinca.blogspot.hu/2010/04/bokolyi-traditional-gypsy-bread-on.html
It made me think though, there are lots of places that don't have these kinds of days. Although many will take refuse away under certain circumstances, there's often a resistance to this kind of thing because it's messy or a little, well, undignified to have people scrabbling piles of rubbish in the streets.
But if properly organised, I think this is a great way of cutting down on landfill, promoting creativity and preventing people form buying brand new things. If I were organising a throw-out day, here's how I'd run it:
Before the weekend
- Get in contact with locals an explain that there'll be a big collection day, with the aim being to swap items instead of letting them go to landfill.
- Anything that's not organic waste will be collected.
- Make sure it's widely advertised and talked about in local media.
- Encourage it as a community day.
Leaving your stuff
- From Saturday morning to Sunday evening, you're free to leave your unwanted goods on the pavement outside your house.
- Bag small items that might fly away (like paper).
- If it's an item that might be broken, leave a note explaining what's broken about it (or say if it's in working order).
- Keep like items together - ie clothes and shoes, electronics, books and magazines which will help with sorting after collection.
- Neatly stack furniture is so it's not obstructing the walkway, and ensure anything dangerous like nails or splintered wood is facing in or protected.
- First come, first served! If you've left it on the street, you can't also hold it for friends.
- Be polite and remember that you're getting things or free, so no unpleasant behaviour
- The council arranges pick-up in a timely fashion so everyone can get back to their daily lives without too much disruption.
- Items to be sorted to appropriate recycling facilities and disposed of appropriately.
- Students, artists, refurbishment enthusiasts, anyone moving into a new house, lovers of free stuff.
- Council - less to pick up in the long-run, less landfill to deal with.
- Owners of junk - this system makes it really easy to get rid of unwanted stuff.
- Community - it's an event that can bring everyone together. You could even team it with a bakesale.
- The environment - less new stuff bought, less perfectly useable stuff thrown out.