Monday, October 17, 2011

Pavement Freecycle

A few years ago I was explaining the concept of Freecycle to my father, and he said (rather smugly), 'So it's a bit like the pavement outside my gate, is it?'. He'd recently had an enjoyable time sorting through his cellar and had found a few metal buckets and a vintage counting machine, which had disappeared to (presumably) grateful new owners shortly after being left outside his gate.At the time, I didn't know another pavement like it! We have our Ramassage des Encombrants, when the council gives a date for the collection of bulky rubbish, and I knew I wasn't the only one to scout through the 'rubbish' outside of gates to pick up the interesting stuff, but that was only four times a year... Now, and I think it must be to do with the changing economic times, pavement freecycle has come to our own little French town.

I think it all started about eight months ago, the night before the Ramassage. I was out walking the dog with Son 1, and we spotted a most exciting selection of bookcases (modern, slightly battered, but useful) outside one house. While I was wondering to myself if I could dash home for the estate car and fit a bookcase in the boot, the problem was taken out of my hands. A large white van drove up and a couple of men put the biggest bookcase inside it.That night the white vans were active, and we found our own encombrants (a very rusty bike frame and a few things even we didn't have any more use for) had disappeared. We guessed that the van drivers were gipsies, and hoped that they could recycle/reuse the stuff properly, rather than dumping some of it outside of the proper council sorting tips.

The next Ramassage was very different. One house round the corner from us set up a whole table of little knicknacks, as if it was a Vide Grenier stall, and people from all round came and helped themselves. I had a good look but didn't take anything - I've regretted the blue china tankards since! I think I saw some travelling people selling some of the metal plates at a Vide Grenier that weekend. I liked the way that the householders had set everything out so beautifully for us all.

And now, a house out in the other direction has an almost weekly deposit of something interesting, and lots of us stop for a browse. Ben picked up a lovely big piece of tempered glass to make a cold frame the other day, and he brought me three hand-painted saucers from outside the same gate yesterday! The heap of stuff is kept very tidy and there's no sense that it's a public nuisance - it seems a rather neighbourly and entertaining way of keeping stuff in use, instead of binning it.

Are you seeing any increase in this kind of thing? And would you take something from a 'heap of stuff' if you liked it?

A quick PS - I'm off for a week's blogging break now! I won't be visiting your blog or mine until next Tuesday. Have a lovely week, friends!


Vintage Jane said...

I thinks it's a fab idea and wish it would take on here. I know they do the same thing in Germany. Would I take something ... of course! M x

Elizabethd said...

Nothing like that happens here, sadly, as one of our neighbours has left a horrible heap of old bits and pieces, including ironing board, outside her garage for months!

magsmcc said...

I think the climate would be against us here- we nearly got washed away by torrents at school pick-up time today, let alone a trestle table! But this would be perfect as an idea! None of the hassle of reading hundreds of frankly sob-story emails when you post on freegle/freecycle, and much more satisying to think of folk taking something they could use than sending off into the impersonal recycling depot.

Lululiz said...

Sounds great, mind you, I would probably spend way too much time going round sifting through stuff, lol. No fear of that happening where we live in France though, living in the middle of nowhwere with neighbours scattered about few and far between.

Wendy said...

Not here - the Council would throw fines around left, right and centre - miserable old souls, that lot.

But were it ever to be allowed I'd be in there like a shot - nose first. I have no shame. :)

Faye said...

Wow that is a fantastic idea! I wouldn't want to mention the sort of things that are left on pavements around here!! I hope you get some more great finds - keep us posted!

Lorrie said...

There are a few things left curbside here, but mostly big items, and all too frequently, hideous sofas that soon get ruined in the rain. I like the idea of arranging small things neatly for potential "customers."

polkadotpeticoat said...

My girlfriend and I once picked up 2 beautiful chairs sitting by the curb waiting for the garbage truck......we loved them. I sure wished I still had them!

Selfsewn said...

Hi Floss
Thanks for your comment.
I am out from under the duvet, though I still have a hot water bottle!
I'm feeling happier that we are moving on, and hopefully start a new life.

I think they call it flytipping here LOL
We found out recently that our neighbours opposite have our fireplace in their house!!!
It seems the lady who owned our house before left it outside for free.
ARGhhh!!! I want it back now!!!!

Andi's English Attic said...

I would hesitate to take until the practice is more widespread. I think it's a grand idea, but can't help feeling the items will reappear on car boot stalls and ebay. xx

Josie Crafter said...

Would I take something from a heap if I liked it? Well, abso-flaming-lutely I would !!!!!!
And yes, I'm aware of one house on one of our regular driving routes which tends to have stuff outside - I've not stopped there as yet, as it's been mostly furniture (certainly no room for more of that!) - but I would definitely stop if I saw smaller things on offer.
I hope you're having a good blogging break, Floss. It's so nice to be here visiting your space, as I've visited so rarely of late. I'm enjoying blog-hopping whilst the little folk have afternoon nap ;-)