Editorial: The learning curb for well-wishing wasters

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It’s that time of year again; exams are over and students are flocking to far-off lands and summer destinations. But what to do with all that junk: cube TVs, battered desks and stank couches. On some days, the curbs around campus seem to turn into a veritable bazaar of furniture and cheap electronics. Unfortunately, when that sun disappears and the rain pours down, all of the green-hearted sentiment and responsibility gets washed away along with any trace of usefulness. The once-vibrant hoard of street-side goodies turns into grimy, broken, waterlogged junk.

Even on a sunny day, items left out unsupervised often get sabotaged by animals or passersby. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out the appropriate way to get rid of all that junk in your trunk (or . . . apartment). In fact, the CRD “Junk-it” team visited UVic last month and provided information on the best way to recycle old furniture and used household goods. Sure, the orange “junk-it” bag may end up in your junk pile itself, but the kit also includes a tarp and bungee cord to cover items while moving (and keep them out of the junk pile) as well as information on how to dispose of unwanted goods.

While it’s great to be in a community that puts free, useful objects on the curb for someone else to come along and give a good home to, if the object is broken, rained on, or left for more than a day, it’s littering, plain and simple. Hauling your broken desk out onto the sidewalk for someone else to deal with is just not right. We live in a society people! Luckily, there are many options available when dealing with junk. If the object is still usable, try selling it on craigslist.ca or usedvictoria.com. If you need to get rid of it quickly, offer it for free on one of those sites or on freecycle.org, where people look for and offer up free stuff. Alternatively, many charity organizations will pick up used items for free.

For stuff that is useless (your old nasty mattress) or obsolete (your iMac G3), be responsible and recycle it. The cost of recycling computers, monitors and many electronics is actually now paid for at the time of purchase, so it’s free to recycle these items. Visit the Encorp Pacific Return-It website to find locations (and remember to delete your psych paper and bathroom-mirror selfies before you drop it off). Old mattresses are not an appropriate item to put on the side of the road in any situation. Give it to a friend, post it online for free, or, if it’s at the end of its life, arrange to have it taken to the landfill or Ellice Recycling in Victoria where it will be broken down and recycled.

The CRD now has a hotline for reporting illegal dumping — which includes abandoned furniture, mattresses, TVs and appliances placed in public spaces with the intention of re-using. The best way to avoid being a jerk to your neighbours and make sure that items aren’t landing in the landfill is simply not to take on so much junk. Ask yourself: do I really need this item? Can I do without it? Avoid bringing junk into your house, and you won’t have to deal with it when you’re moving. It’s that simple.

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