Dumpster Diving Spanish Style

dumpster.jpgUnlike the UK, where the bin-men collect once a week, in Spain rubbish is removed every night and for good reason. The community bins cater to a large number of people and are usually overflowing by the time they arrive and the last thing they would want is to attract unwanted pests.

There is also a rule that people shouldn’t discard anything to the bins until after nine at night, which is rarely adhered to. One of the best urbanisation to recycle on the Costa Blanca, in my humble opinion, is Sainvi, Villajoyosa. Ten blocks with ten floors – four apartments on each floor – all crammed together with only one bin location. When I did live there the bins where full before nine in the morning – stinking up the place.

One pest that is welcomed and encouraged and known by many names: “dumpster diver”, “dustbin surfer”, “skip diver”, “binning” or “canning” referring to those people who see gold in other’s trash. I’ve spotted items on passing and thought, why did they throw that away. One time there was a piano, a large screen TV and a remote control taped to its top with a note funcionamiento.

You can recycle full wardrobes, sofas, kitchen-sinks, bed frames – hey if you’re not too fussy stained mattresses, and sadly on occasion, an assortment of discarded pets, crying for their owners, often found and taken in too.

Some people are just opportune recycles.

I cleared out a house in the campo (countryside) I was refurbishing. There was a lot of solid, good quality furniture brought over from the UK; unfortunately, some of the pieces, like a four drawer dresser was riddled with woodworm. I put it down the bins late at night and there they were in the morning. The landlord and his other half, they carried it into their bar, threw a gingham tablecloth over it, and used the draws for cutlery and condiments. I waited a week before I told them, not out of spite, when I asked, “where did you get it?” they said, without a blush, they’ve had it years.

Some people make a modest living from driving around in search of that special piece. They will take most things and if it’s broke: fix, restore, and sell it at one of the many flea markets or put it up for sale on the many social media bargain sites.

These are not to be confused with Freegans – free and vegan – who scavenge food from inside the bins in the name of an anti-consumerist ideology, employing alternative living strategies to reduce carbon footprint and protest waste – their rationale. I don’t know about that, a family who take it in turns to beg outside our local supermarket, dig out the food from around the back of the store because it is still packaged, fresh, but past the sell by date. They do that out of economic necessity. The first example is a cool way to protest, whilst the other stigmatizes the homeless and the poor.

Pimp-up My Stool

On a humorous note, I had an old stool that was lathered in artist paint from my years of painting. My inamorata insisted I throw it out, refusal was met with hostility. I stood my ground. She discarded it with promises I was next. The new one she bought me just wasn’t the same.

Three weeks later, I was mooching around a rastro in the village of Jalon being pushed out the way by an incontinence of geriatric blanket-trippers from Benidorm. And there she was the old girl. Its joints re-glued rubbed down and stained a deep mahogany – my stool! I bartered the brown fellow, who was wearing a red fez, down to six euros and took it home. I borrowed a gingham tablecloth from the landlord of the local bar and covered it up – so far it has gone unnoticed.

Incidentally, the new Spanish gag laws cover leaving furniture in the street from now on dumping unwanted furniture in the street could come with a penalty. Those caught obstructing streets with old furniture, vehicles or other unwanted items will be fined.

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