Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wombling free

"Underground, overground, wombling free
The Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we
Making good use of the things that we find
Things that the everyday folks leave behind"
(The Wombles TV Theme Song - Listen to it here)

I loved watching The Wombles as a kid. For those who missed it, this was a 70s British stop-motion animation featuring little creatures that went around picking up litter and turning it into something useful. Recycling before it was cool.

Growing up, my family were often reclaiming bits and pieces. Both my parents were very adept at creatively re-using things. As a kid this meant and endless supply of materials for craft projects as well as joining in on the fun game of spotting useful things that people had thrown out. Of course once I became a teenager it was embarrassing to have your Dad stop the car to retrieve stuff out of the hard rubbish collection piles, but I soon got over it once I became a uni student and engaged in the time honoured tradition of finding free furniture.

The wombling habit is fairly ingrained in both myself and the Cunning Plans Dept. We're both committed to reducing waste and recycling/re-using where possible. We often boggle at the amount of things that people throw out onto the verge that could have been donated to a charity or second hand shop to be reused or put in the recycling bin. Over the years, we've wombled some nifty things.

Recent acquisitions include:
  • Two bicycles, one with a broken back wheel and one missing the front wheel = one complete free bicycle
  • Fully functional bag less vacuum cleaner for the shed
  • Small, carry-on sized suitcase
  • Pedestal fan
  • Clothes drying rack
  • Wooden table that's getting used in the backyard as my gardening bench
  • Banana lounge
  • Plastic baskets for storage
  • A bike horn
In the last year, I've found myself often pondering on the waste of things that are in good enough condition to be re-used or resold through an op shop. Now when I have the time and energy, I will pick up stuff, take it home, give it a clean, then drop it of at the local Brotherhood of St Laurence. In the weeks before Christmas last year, we noticed that one of the apartment blocks we walk the dogs past had 6 large bags of clothes piled out the front next to the bins. A quick look showed the clothes were probably in good nick. So the bags came home. I won't lie, they reeked from having been left out in the weather and all the sorting was done outside with gloves. However, after throwing them through the wash (with some Dettol), the end result was a large pile of good clothes (and a few random things like the complete set of car seat covers in fluffy cow print...) that went to the Brotherhood of St Laurence instead of going to landfill.
Bags of clothes reclaimed from outside an apartment block
The huge pile of clean clothes ready to be donated
Bag 1
Bag 2
Bag 3
Random fluffy cow print seat covers
Bag 4
Bag 5
Bag 6
Things like old blankets and towels are put aside for The Lost Dogs Home and some items that weren't good enough to donate were stripped for reusable parts like zippers, buttons, elastic, trim etc..

I feel good when I see stuff that would have gone to landfill being reused and recycled and I'm glad to be a part of that process.