Where growing, making & good living come together

The rubbish people give us

Posted by on Tuesday 25 January 2011 in green | 12 comments

Colette from the Permaculture Cottage blog mentioned yesterday that she returned from a visit to see her mum with jam jars, newspaper and “other bits and bobs for recycling”.

We collect “rubbish” from friends and family too – we brought back a box full of trash from visiting my mum & dad in Southport in November, and over the last month or so, we’ve been given all sorts of things to reuse, such as:

  • Screw top bottles from our party-hearty neighbour (he uses our glass recycling bin as overflow for his own smaller bin so he’s bringing them around one way or another) – John will use these for his homebrew wine when he finally bottles it up
  • Some old (chip board) shelving units from the same neighbour – will become shelving in our garage-ette
  • Glass jars from Strowger – he brings some nearly every week, the star – used for my marmalade and lemon curding antics over the weekend
  • Egg boxes from John’s mum and John’s brother & sister-in-law
  • Plastic food tubs from John’s mum
  • Newspapers from John’s dad – old newspapers for starting our woodburner or lining the chicken coop to make it easier to clean
  • Wood from John’s dad for burning (although I do save the best bits for making stuff with)
  • An old wine rack from John’s dad – which will also be used when John bottles up his wine

I was also going to get a going-to-the-tip kitchen cabinet from our next-door-but-one neighbours (to turn into a cold smoking cabinet) but John’s dad got their first — you win some, you lose some ;)


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  1. sara

    Lol..it might be rubbish to them but to me its priceless..i got a freezer from my neighbour..nothing wrong with it apart from she wanted a silver one..roll eyes heavenwards..its in my utility room now as overflow for my fruits and veggies in the summer time…i admit that i have skipped dived for the first time last month..i rescued a brass fire guard..very rusty but intact..tucked it under my arm and legged it down the road.lol…cleaned it up and painted it with black hammerite..now its in my living room looking lovely…one mans rubbish is now my heaven..i love looking in skips to see if anything is salvageable..my neighbours are too posh to give me stuff…nevermind..
    take care

    • louisa

      I heart skip-diving too – always looking in to see if there is anything worth taking… The majority of our firewood comes from skips in one way or another – free fuel.

      Re: neighbours. Our neighbours have been very generous – we’re the newest to move into the area and into the house that needs the most work, so I think people have realised we need all the help we can get. We’ve had £100+ bath taps, gorgeous slabs of Yorkshire stone, 4’x8′ corrugated metal sheets, the shelves mentioned above – and cake and fruit! We’re very grateful!

      I think it’s offering/accepting stuff for the first time that’s the hard bit – some people might be embarrassed to even ask because it could seem condescending (“take our cast offs, you pauper”) – perhaps next time you’re chatting to a posh neighbour, casual ask for something of theirs when they’re going to throw it out – you never know, it might open the floodgates!

  2. Taphophile

    We’re always on the scrounge for jars for preserves etc. We also have family members keep the carcasses of their takeaway chickens for stock. I collect from their freezers regularly.

    • louisa

      Oh I’ve never thought of that – asking for carcasses and stuff… I think the people I’d most likely ask would make stock themselves – but it’s worth asking I guess!

  3. sara

    Hi louisa..my neighbours are ok..but they never think thats the problem..except the ice cream man..we swap fruits and seasonal veggies with him for tubs of icecream and lollies for the girls(me)lol…others sell or donate it..i have a big family so they all recycle their stuff to good ole mum(me)…will have to retrain them in the art of re-cycling..trouble is i think they can’t believe the change in my lifestyle and think i am going loopy..haha nevermind..one day they will get it..
    take care

  4. Jan

    I decided about a year ago that the wet weather was too much for my chooks so I built a flat wooden plinth out of sturdy “skip wood”. The wood was probably roof supports for a garage, the previous owner didn’t care as it reduced the amount of skips they might need to hire, but basically it is a very tight double length pallet made from more sturdy wood that normal pallets but the base is just like a pallet. Now the sawdust that the chooks scratch around in is much more dry and easier to clean. I basically grab one end (the light weight end) and rotate it round 90 deg. then I can just sweep all the crap into a bucket, and then rotate it back. As the coop is higher up it is easier to rotate and we can move the coop wherever we like. It does rely on a good supply of sawdust, but that isn’t as expensive as you might think if you are prepared to ask around.

    We trade eggs for empty boxes etc and the Mrs is always cross stitching from old office shirts and bits of material. As long as it is clean it isn’t really rubbish is it? Large scale composting (ie everything that could potentially go smelly) has made the whole taking out the rubbish bin thing a much more pleasant chore. Horray for composting ! and Hands off that’s my compost!

  5. john wooldridge

    I really do wish that my neighbours were more aware like yours, it’s only when I spy something in hand do I get the chance to snaffle it.

  6. Su

    I have just finished revamping a lovely little octagonal table that somebody left outside my partner’s house for use as firewood!
    I am currently burning a load of crates that contained flags, the neighbour would sooner have died than give them to me, but the builders were very happy for me to have them, they even dismantled a few for me. Another neighbour gave me a huge load of plaster laths (is that the right word?), which are brilliant for fire lighting purposes. There are so many that I think I’ll be using them for the next couple of years.
    Work is a great source of cardboard boxes, for various uses, large glass coffee jars, scrap paper & rather oddly, biscuit tins!
    Skips – love em! Always look in any one that I’m passing.
    My absolute favourite piece of ‘junk’ is my headboard! Made from a piece of wood thrown out by a neighbour, it’s actually a slab of wood with bark on either edge, so its a cross section from a tree. It’s gorgeous and I cannot believe that anybody would throw it away.
    Newspapers, oh how I wish I could get more. I have so many uses for them and so few newspapaers.

  7. Di Chesterman

    I also have friends that leave their rubish on my step … a washing machine bowl last week (to make into a fruit bowl) and a supply of containers that held chemicals for cleaning beer lines which will become planters for my herb garden. They recognise my house by the dead tree branch decorated with stars made of beer cans – much prettier than it sounds :)

    • louisa

      Heh, I like the idea of your “give me your rubbish” sign.

      I hope those beer line cleaner containers have been well washed out btw – I hear that stuff can be frighteningly dangerous neat.

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