Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Transfer Site

I've mentioned our Transfer Sites from time to time and I guess it's time to blog 'em, because when I talk about them I hear "Gee, I wish we had something like that around here!"  At first glance it's socialized dumpster diving or trash day corner cruising.  In concept it's closer to a completely unorganized Really Free Market that goes on 24/7/365.

To understand the Transfer Sites you need to know that there are two governmental units here, and where you live determines how your trash is handled.  There's the City of Fairbanks, then there's the Fairbanks North Star Borough (generally speaking you can think of our Boroughs as a County).  The City has trash pickup, but outside of city limits you have to take your trash to the Borough landfill or contract for trash pickup.  To facilitate good trash habits the Borough has Solid Waste Transfer Sites scattered around the area.  They have tons of Dumpsters and places to safely leave chemicals, batteries, and other hazardous materials.  Our property taxes pay to keep these sites tidy and transfer the waste to the landfill.

Five of these sites also feature Reuse Pads.  These are covered concrete pads where folks can drop off stuff they don't want but that still has some use in it.  As I understand it part of the idea was to keep people out of the Dumpsters (it doesn't help that much), but the Reuse Pads have become the place to do baseline free repurposeing.  And Fairbanksians love it.  These days there's often a crowd, looking for reusables and dropping off stuff they no longer need. 

This time of year (it's yard sale season!) I am checking out the two Transfer Sites closest to us daily, maybe a couple times a day on the weekends when people are cleaning.  I'm always on the lookout for clothes for the boys.  Now, somewhere someone just said, "You dress your kids out of the trash?!?"  Nope.  These are yard-sale remainders or clothes people have chosen to leave free for the taking.  I've found clothes new with tags.  I pick up fleece blankets to repurpose into hats and gaiters, which I take to the school nurses for when school kids forget theirs.  I pick up books and take them to our local used book store, where I either get used book credit or they are donated to the Literacy Council.  I've found furnishings, dishes, lamps, and I bring them home and use them, as the person who dropped them off wanted.

And sometimes you just get lucky.  Here's some of the neat stuff we've found.  With pictures!

Here's the find that finally prompted me to write this blog:  A marble chess set.  Hubby has wanted a marble chess set since he was a kid!  One piece had been repaired and it needed cleaning, but much to my surprise all the pieces were there.  The price tag on the back says $85; they're about $70 on Amazon.

This is a loose leaf tea steeper.  I looked around the 'net and couldn't find anything quite like it.  It was quite elegant and I couldn't believe the box of kitchen stuff I was digging though had all the pieces.  I don't drink a lot of tea (especially loose leaf), so my sister took this one.  It was just too cool to let end up in the landfill.  Behind the tea strainer is a set of matching black enamel canisters I found.  I've always wanted a set but I'm just too cheap to spend $25-$30 on them.  I did some mucking and re-arranging to make room for them on my counters, and I just love them there.

We get lots of toys here.  I try and avoid toys with lots of parts, both because they get lost and they're awful to step on, but this Hot Wheels set is self-contained.  The kids loved it, to the point of almost mostly sharing and taking turns!  Of course germs are a concern; this is technically the trash and you don't know where it's been.  My rule on bringing home reusables:  if it can't go in the washing machine or dishwasher, or survive a good hit of bleach solution it can't come home.

I just love this cool stacking planter.  I think it really needs strawberries, but Fred Meyer had flower 4-packs for $1.99.  I had dirt left from my seed-starting supply (from the garden last fall) and got more from a flowerbox someone had abandoned here at our condos.  Looks like it can be hung too.  These go for around $35.  My total cost, with dirt and flowers:  $7.96. 

Can't forget the clothes!  Kiddo loves to wear a tie to school, and begs me to do so. The tie and shirt (and maybe even the jeans) are all repurposed.  This was on the day of his last school concert.

I've just discovered that I have way more pictures here than you'll probably put up with.  The long and the short of it is that "shopping" at the Transfer Site not only saves us money on clothes and sometimes furnishings, but lets us have some stuff we just can't afford right now and make our house a home.  It's a means of being sure the stuff you don't want any more has a chance of being used by someone without putting dollars in a corporation's pocket.  Every time I have clothes Junior has outgrown I remember the seven cases (yes, seven diaper cases of size 4 clothes!) I had in the crawlspace when he needed them and where I got most of them.  We actually had way too much, I sorted out what I wanted and took the rest back.

That's the other thing about shopping the Transfer Sites... the return policy is great!

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