21 February 2017

Footpath recycling dominates Dickson

| Paul Costigan
Join the conversation

As a person who walks for exercise around the local area, I get to observe the changes through the suburb. One that has grown in popularity has caused humour for some of us and possibly has caused consternation for others.

It has been an informally established practice that residents have on occasions put out something they no longer required on their footpath area as items that they were happy for others to take away. In the past this usually meant that a small sign was placed alongside the items saying something simple as ‘FREE’.

I am not sure what is happening in other areas of Canberra, but the practice of putting stuff out has now become so commonplace that residents no longer bother with the sign. Got something to get rid of– plonk it on the verge outside your home, and good chance it will be gone in a day or to. Maybe.

At the moment this system of redistributing your stuff has become very common. Many streets now have something out there. I am not sure who picks it up, but for most residents participating in this recycling of stuff–anything seems to be the way to go.

costigan-Blue-Chair Costigan-doghouse costigan-machine

I have done my best to research online whether there are rules set down for such practices under the lease arrangements. But so far nothing definite.

There are the usual guides and talk of regulations about how residents should go about applying to the bureaucracy to do stuff such as plant things, change the surface etc. As far as I can see the bureaucracy remains silent on this latest fad to recycle through plonking all manner of giveaways out there on the sidewalk.

I have asked around about what others think of all this, and the reactions have been mixed. Some laugh – as I do about this. Others are a bit more concerned about the visual pollution and that some of the stuff sits there come rain and shine and starts to fall apart.

Then there is the case at times when you are not sure what is out for the taking and what just happens to be parked or deposited on the verge for other reasons – possibly not meant to be taken away. The danger is that once it is accepted that things left are there for the taking–leaving anything there just for a moment could get tricky.

For instance, in the top photograph, there’s a dilapidated horse trailer along with the furniture – is that also yours to take?

costigan-plastic-thing Costigan-Vacuum-frames costigan-yellow-lounge Costigan-chairSet

We humans are wonderful at simply following the lead of others. In this case what was formerly a quiet practice seems now to have become very acceptable and one taken up by many as an easier option to having it carted away or to hitching up a trailer to the car.

I have included with this post just a selection of the many photographs taken over a couple of weeks while doing my walks through the local area – been mainly Dickson with occasional strays into the nearby suburbs.

Costigan-YellowstripeCouch costigan-trikesetc Costigan-BookCase-Boat Costigan-Chairs-XmasTree

And then there were these two unusual cases.

First a wheelbarrow appeared in among trees alongside the Dickson Drain for at least a week – then disappeared…


… and this very small toy sat on the footpath for a couple of days. I still do not know whether it was meant to be taken or just left there. But in the climate of freebees for the taking – we will never know.


… and about that top photograph with the horse trailer, things continued to develop. In the next days items kept appearing – till the whole sidewalk was full (below). I was not sure of the status of that car– as it had stuff on it, in front of it and behind it.


… and one more (below) … Maybe that sign was the message!


Any stories from your suburb?

Happy pickings!

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

This could be a bit of a worry for trailer owners who have theirs chained to the nature strip tree with a narrow chain …

searcher34892:18 pm 24 Feb 17

9 times out of 10 its just because its not worth the effort, although people don’t realise that they can drop off items like that to the Green Sheds in Mitchell and Hume for free at what used to be called Re-volve….some people are just confused, in NSW the council will come out and collect items on the verge but the ACT Government does not and will not. If the item is made of metal they should call metal merchants to see if they can sell it. If anything people can be fined as well as they are littering/dumping on ACT Government land lol.

Ring a charity like Mancare to take away usable furniture.

wildturkeycanoe6:30 am 24 Feb 17

Here is a possible explanation for the birth of this practice. Look at the type of housing in inner city Canberra and the size of blocks. A lot of apartments and small properties leave little room for anybody to own a trailer. Indeed, it is actually encouraged by the government for people to avoid driving around and to take public transport. The problem with that is, people have no need for cars any more, so when it comes time to part with pre-owned furniture or bulky items, what can they do? By the time you hire a car, then hire a trailer and go to the tip to pay for landfill fees, you’ve spent more on ditching the old items than you spent on their replacements. So, people just dump them and hope someone takes care of their problem for them. Hiring a skip bin is also costly and it is hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on throwing away something that might come in useful for a person less well off than yourself.
Of course, a lot of that stuff is pure junk, but what can they do with it? Bulky item pickups are just too expensive for the average Joe. Why can’t the A.C.T government have a once a year free cleanup so people can throw out these things instead of accumulating it on their front yards? Eventually, the government is going to have to do it anyway. I’m sure it’d be impossible to start fining people for leaving unwanted garbage on the kerb, because there will be no way to prove who dumped it and folks will start to put it in other people’s yards instead, if they aren’t already. There has to be a solution that works for both the public and the government.

Holden Caulfield2:08 pm 23 Feb 17

I would have picked up those chairs if I saw them!

I used this unofficial recycling program a few years back in O’Connor. Some stuff I put out knowing it would provide ongoing use (an unwanted outdoor setting in good condition, for example) and some questionable items (Including a broken washing machine, with a sign to that effect) and without fail the magic recycling fairies have collected my offerings.

More power to them. 🙂

Paul Costigan1:04 pm 22 Feb 17

someone else knew about those vintage Parker chairs – they disappeared within a day – I saw them in the morning but they were gone that night..

however the old Christmas tree behind was left..

That last set of dining chairs are quite valuable vintage Parker chairs. I wonder if the owner knew they could’ve gotten quite a bit for them. I’ve been trying to get some like these for months 🙁

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.