Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Skipping appliances - the anti-consumer beginner's Guide

What can you expect?
The streets of London are awash with discarded appliances, and most of them either work or can be easily fixed. It seems that people throw them away for a range of reasons - disfunctionality isn't the main one. More specifically:
  • Printers - I see them on the streets all the time and they usually work. But if you don't need one or can't be bothered carrying it home, look in the paper comparment. It's almost always full with A4 paper.
  • Vaccum Cleaners - never work. I've stopped trying long ago .
  • Computer screens - always work. But who needs them?
  • Fridges, washing machines, stoves.... mixed record of success. My skipping algorythm for these appliances: multiply necessity by distance then divide by housemates willing to carry the load. Allow colour to influence your decision.
Where's best to look?
Anywhere in London. More stuff appears in middle class areas but it's not unusual to find various treasures near estates in working class areas. Really posh areas, like the docklands, are the worst: everywhere is gated and fenced off and you have no chance of getting near the bins of plenty.

Carrying the load

Just put it on the back rack of your bike, and start rolling. You'd be amazed how much you can carry on a bike. You might have to walk it though.

Skipping things on the way home is another reason not to take the bus. It provides nice breaks to your journey where you can ponder about the state of the world and your household requirements (staring at a fax/photocopier off Shaftsberry Avenue at midnight - do I really need this? Well not with 2kwat of electricity supply).

The cut electric cord
Some people say that if the electric cord is cut and the plug is missing, this is a sign that the appliance doesn't work, and therefore do not bother.

However I'm pretty sure we've found appliances without a plug that worked just fine. I also have a vague recollection of myself cutting the plug of a fridge I found in the street because I needed the plug. Maybe it was people like me that destroyed this spotneneous popular sign system.

My Best finds

A washing machine - thrown away because the door handle was broken

Oil radiator heaters - I just found one the other day, this is my third, and of course it works fine. Heating with electricity is wasteful, but this is the most efficient way.

A disfunctional cash till - I made a clock from its buttons. NO SALE! is noon.

1 comment:

Marjojo said...

Dear Mink,
Such good tips. I just read about an artist the other day who picks up discarded broken things like ummbrellas, shoes, etc., repairs them and leaves them out in the street again. Her name is Hilary Jack.