Encouraging People to Steal Your "Trash"

Last week, my trip to the market coincided with garbage day. As I walked along the sidewalk, I saw trash bag after trash bag after trash bag. My mind went to the landfill, the ultimate destination for all that trash. I wondered how much of the things inside were biodegradable, and how much of it was metal and plastic that would linger in the dump for decades to come.

 Just as I was beginning to feel despondent about the trash, I saw something that made me stop in my tracks. There, beside a trash bag was a vacuum cleaner. Taped to it was a piece of cardboard with two words written on it.

 "I work."

 I paused for a moment, wondering if anyone who happened by like I had would see the sign and take the vacuum home. After a moment's consideration, I continued on to the store. On my way back, the trash bags loomed as ugly as ever in front of each house, but the vacuum cleaner was nowhere to be seen.

 I always knew that people took things from the curbside when they were left out for the trash, but it had never occurred to me to leave trash out with the intention of having someone take it. When I got home, I thought about the matter more and wondered how many things were in those trash bags that I saw could have been useful to someone else.

 When I was catching up on green news yesterday, I found this interesting story about the Goedzak. This is a special type of trash bag available in the Netherlands that is meant to encourage "trash shopping." The bags are made from heavy-duty clear plastic, so you can fill them up with all types of things. In the pictures on the news article, I saw computer keyboards, books, coffee mugs and all types of other items.

 Although you can't buy Goedzak trash bags in the states, you can easily create your own version by purchasing clear construction waste bags or clear biodegradable bags to hold items that could be useful for others. This is great for people who live in areas where recycling programs are limited. I bought a supply of compostable clear bags online and plan to start using them as soon as they arrive, and I wanted to share the idea for any Paperless Kitchen blog readers who might like to do the same.

 If you do try this new technique of encouraging others to steal your trash, tell us about your experiences in the comments section. If you’re already doing something on your own, we’d love to here about it, too.

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