Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Free-Cycling Chicago Style

The kids and I spent the end of June in Chicago. Well, technically, we were mostly at my parent's house, which is in a suburb of Chicago. In Portland, where we live, people don't waste much. We have excellent recycling programs and each household has a large city compost bin that takes yard waste as well as kitchen scraps. In fact, our trash is only collected once every 2 weeks... so people have to work hard at managing what they throw away.
Portland is also known as land of the free boxes. During nice weather (and sometimes not-so-nice weather) boxes of goods and furniture with free signs can be found in abundance. We do purge and take trips to Goodwill, but if we just have a few things to unload, we often place a free box outside our house, and everything is usually gone within a day or two.
I also have managed to acquire many a useful item in a free box. I have free-boxed books, toys, clothes for the kids, clothes for me, DVDs, clocks... you name it. I love the idea that what you don't need you can give to someone else, no money exchanged.
So, anyways, back to Chicago. The second week I was home, it was trash day in my folks neighborhood. Me, my mom and the kids were leaving to meet my dad for lunch, when we noticed that her neighbors had a kids water play table and a kids slide in their trash. Not with a free sign, not in the recycling, but just sitting next to their trash can. And they were in perfectly good shape. I can't imagine having these kids toys and a) not wanting to sell them, trade them in or pass them along to my friends or at least b) giving them to goodwill or c) if you are really lazy, putting a free sign on them or putting a listing on craigslist. But nope, these were headed straight for the landfill. Until my mom and I knocked on their door and asked if we could have them.
About 10 minutes of cleaning later, and the kids were set up with a summer play area. All for free. I think my dad was a bit ashamed that we took the neighbors trash, but hey- we gave it a second life and with the 100 degree weather, the kids were more than pleased!

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  1. geeze we get our trash picked up 2x a week. :-(

  2. I can't believe they were headed to the landfill...yikes! Mama Earth is happy you found them and gave then a second life.

    Looks like the kids enjoyed them.

  3. My sister in law lives in Portland and was just telling me about all this, just as you mentioned......that everyone composts and is very thoughtful of waste, etc. She said I'd love it. :) Sounds like I would as I put stuff out on our curb with a free sign on it all the time. Heck, I have stuff out there now as I type. I can't imagine someone just throwing out that set! Not that I'm a fan of plastic, but it looks NEW! Ugh! Can you imagine all this stuff in our landfills?! I don't even want to think about it!