Recycling pieces of furniture and other articles has become a lucrative career for a growing number of persons. For others, it is an avocation that brings in extra spending money. For still others, it is simply a hobby that they enjoy doing.
If you, or someone you know, retrieves and recycles furniture and other items discarded by others, read on. . .
1. Many communities have ordinances that make it illegal to remove items set at the curb, on a public access area between the roadway and private property line, or into a garbage cart or dumpster.
2. Items left at the curb, placed into a garbage cart, or deposited into a dumpster are considered the property of either the local municipality, or the company that provides the solid waste collection/management service.
3. Some communities sort of ignore it when their own otherwise law-abiding citizens pick up and haul away things. Pieces of furniture, left-overs from yard sales, equipment, boxes full of books, clothing, household items, etc. They figure that the local citizen intends to recycle the items. Resell them, donate to a local church thrift shop, repair and reuse in their own homes.
4. Some businesses, in smaller communities, allow employees to remove certain types of items from the dumpsters on their property. Removal must be done very discreetly, and during a specific time slot on a certain day of the week. And, it cannot interfere with any business activity or policy, community ordinance, or government regulation.
5. Some businesses offer a creative alternative to their employees. Periodically, they post a notice of specific items available for pick-up, before they ever reach the dumpsters. Examples: desks, chairs, shelving, cabinetry, tables, room/cubicle partitions, organizers, serving trays, even empty coffee containers.
6. Some local government agencies such as school systems, police departments, park and recreation departments, etc. hold public auctions These well-advertised events help clear out storerooms, warehouses, inventory, etc.
7. A Florida community deters “curb” and “dumpster” retrievals by running a public recycling “shop.” Local residents drop off items in new, like-new, or very good condition. The public can visit and purchase the goods at reasonable prices. One third of the proceeds helps stock the local food pantry. Another third goes to the community homeless shelter. The other third helps pay the center’s operating expenses, including wages for the three part-time workers that operate the “shop.”
8. A mid-sized waste management company promotes a special recycling program among their own employees. The company’s regional operations manager described how the program works.
A driver notices that a dumpster he’s loading up contains some good or excellent quality pieces in new, like-new, or very good condition. He calls the yard master and alerts him to what’s coming in. It can be furnishings, office equipment, carpeting and padding, boxes of new tile, wood paneling, fancy trim, kitchen/bath fixtures, cabinetry, construction material, etc.
He pulls into the yard. The items are retrieved from the dumpster. And, they are placed in a storage building on the property. Certain days of the month, the building is opened to the public. The items are sold ‘as is’ at ‘unbelievable low prices.’
The company official explained that the money generated by the program goes into a fund to help out their employees and families. “We’ve found that every family can run into a situation where they need a little financial boost.”
9. For years, a relative has retrieved small pieces of period furniture, also useful new and like-new items, from the curb. She makes certain that the clothing, toys, household and decorator items, etc. are donated to local church thrift shops.
She researches and refinishes some of the retrieved furniture herself. Other pieces are turned over to me. The finished pieces are given away as gifts, donated for fundraising purposes, or purchased by friends and colleagues. Always with a descriptive booklet about the piece’s background and refinishing process.
During an early morning walk, she spotted a pile of new and like new baby and toddler items. Every piece carried an expensive brand. There was a car seat, stroller, a pair of whimsical Disney lamps,a bouncie baby, toys, stuffed animals, and books. Two boxes setting on the ground contained over seventy-five infant and toddler clothing items. Many still had store tags on them.
The relative hurried home and drove her sedan back to that pile of goods. She had no sooner arrived when a waste management truck arrived to pick up the trash.
The driver eyed her. He explained the city ordinance. “What do you plan to do with those items?” he asked.
“Take them to my church’s thrift shop. All of these things are must-haves for a baby or toddler.”
He asked which church thrift shop. When my relative answered, he smiled and said, “Hurry up.” Then, he emptied the garbage container, and drove away.
This encounter with the waste management company’s driver did not discourage the relative from looking for great curbside “finds” in the future. Instead, she got better acquainted with more of her neighbors. A colorful brochure was created and handed out to neighbors to encourage them to donate good quality discards to local thrift shops, Salvation Army and Goodwill stores, etc.
11. A Central Florida woman paid $100 for the contents of a commercial storage unit. In the deal, she got over 100 used televisions, and over 100 quilted queen and king sized bedspreads. We met as she was loading a large number of the hotel bedspreads into commercial-sized washers at a laundromat. The spreads looked very familiar. She and I checked several of the bedspreads. We were able to confirm that the spreads (and tvs) were the same ones replaced while I still worked with my hotel.
I asked, “What do you plan to do with so many bedspreads?” She said that she might sell the best ones on e-Bay. Her focus was on getting the spreads cleaned so she could assess their condition.
I suggested that she donate some spreads to the church thrift shops. She smiled and said that it was a “perfect way to recycle good quality items that someone else had simply thrown out.”
Yes. It was.
Blogging soon: “Furniture recycling: Basic steps toward a successful finishing job.