Sunday, July 15, 2012

Zombies, Darwinian selection and more jobs for lawyers

We went to the tip shops today - the local, City of Albany, and the slightly differently philosophised Denmark one.

At Denmark, it was all a-bustle, people dropping off things , chatting, fossicking, looking around. Fair enough, looks a bit tatty but their landfill doesn't seem to be bulging, and there are weird and wacky items which make you smile. (like this)
There were re-upholsterable chairs and couches, tables, cupboards, footstools, you name it, it's there.

At the City of Albany it's all lovely and tidy, because everything but books, shoes, crockery and apparently random chipboard furniture goes to landfill.  It's like a scene from the Walking Dead, with the ever hopeful few shuffling zombie-like around any vehicle which drives through, only to turn away disappointed and watch the seagulls welcome another deposit.

We pondered this at length as we watched a perfectly restorable club lounge chair make it's way straight to landfill.  The nice gentleman who was working patiently explained that there are serious liabilities for Cleanaway, who contract to provide the 'service' for the City.  If you buy a chair or couch or bed or cushion (or presumably any item which involves a porous surface) it may be infested with insects and you could sue.

Taking this to it's logical conclusion, one could say that if I get a papercut from one of the books I bought today, and the papercut becomes infected and my finger falls off, then I have a case for compensation.  If I buy a plate and drop it getting it out of the car and cut myself picking up the pieces - woohoo, new holiday home for me.  Presumably, any timber is expected to be infested with white ants/woodworm and other passing bugs which may leap off and chew my head off, rusty nails on which I may impale myself, or homicidal splinters.  The shoes which are for sale - surely they are a podiatric disaster waiting to happen.  It's a long and lingering death from blisters or bunions.

I can understand the case regarding electrical things.  Not so long ago, I was listening to a man at the Denmark tip shop dealing with an unhappy customer who complained that he had bought 4 computers from the tip shop (for a couple of dollars each) but none of them worked.  As the representative of local government in the area explained, ''s a tip shop, mate, people don't bring 'em here if they work.'  The apparently eternally optimistic customer kept on looking.  He did not appear to be accompanied by his legal team.

Today, in Denmark, I bought a BGE electric bar heater, age unknown but probably pre 1950's.  It looks all stainless steel and minimalist chrome and space agey and I was assured it still worked, although the person who brought it in didn't want to use it any more.  Certainly, it would have zero by way of energy stars, and in terms of Australian standards, it could be considered lacking.  It would be fair to say that running on full heat it would be a random mass of red hot metal and throbbing completely exposed radiator bars.  Never mind not sticking your fingers in, your whole head would fit.  Items nearby would spontaneously combust.

It's true, the local authority could have wrestled it from me, wrenched it from my fevered grip and consigned it to become some archaeologist's future delight.  In fact, they had the good sense to know that I would not be buying it for use in it's designated field, but rather for display.  They divined, on short acquaintance, that it was unlikely that I test power points with my tongue and/or a sharp metal object and that I can be trusted with such an item. Frankly, if I did use it and it went horribly wrong, I'd put it down to Darwinian selection and call it a fair thing.

If you can put up a sign saying don't fall off the cliff into the water, how about one about purchasing at your own risk?

Our pondering concluded that the Albany tip shop probably doesn't show much profit, because there simply isn't the stock turnover to generate one, because there's hardly any stock.  People are paid to open the shop and collect the meagre 'allowed' consigned goods, and wave the rest through to holes in the ground (various). (And the Saturday guy is improving his golf swing, by the looks). Presumably, the shop is therefore costing the ratepayers double - they have to pay to dump their stuff in landfill AND pay for the relentlessly tidy shop to stay open so they can drive through.

It's not really a recycling service, because very little actually gets recycled beside cardboard and glass.  The rather specious argument regarding liability is apparently ignored by local authorities in major cities and towns all over Australia, which have thriving recycling and re-use via their well run and well patronised tip shops.

Presumably the education centre (who paid for that?) is used to brief solicitors and silks, or possibly archaeologists. Or it's used for plotting the location of the next big landfill project...

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