• Pia Christensen

Street Goods – How to get the most bang for no buck

It’s that time of the year again (or that time of the six-month cycle, depending on how sexy your suburb is), the council clean-up! It’s one of the only times that it’s both legal and acceptable to drive around your suburb in the shadows of the early moon and root through your wealthy neighbour’s cast offs.

If, like me, your dining room chairs are precariously balancing on their last literal legs or your outdoor furniture is slow deteriorating (and housing a family of red back spiders), then now is the time to gather your housemates and scour the streets for a steal.

In a society where keeping up with the Joneses is the standard, you can let yo’ broke ass fly.

What you can get out of it

My housemates and I picked up all sorts of useful oddities. For starters, ceramic pots and glassware to nurture our growing succulents (also stolen from the streets), an iron trolley, wine glasses, questionable art and a bread box.

And, the jewel of our crown, a rustic yet sturdy chair, complete with salvaged paints for the touch-ups that we most likely will never get around to doing.

How my haul went down

My housemate and I both had an average day, and in our household that means a late night jaunt to the pub for steaks and a bottle of red. We got cheerful and relaxed enough to trawl the streets as scavenges on our way back home, via Woollies for something sweet, of course.

Using our phones to light the way, we unapologetically scoured the sidewalk for gold. We found the most beautiful, broad wooden chair and it was just too amazing for us to leave on the side of the road in the hopes that it would still be there when we returned, what if other drunk miscreants stole it from us?

So, we took our prize into Woolies and sat in front of the freezer to make a well-informed decision regarding which ice cream we would have. With our groceries and said chair in arms, the journey home became a struggled stroll as we accumulated more.

Our balancing escapades attracted the attention of well-to-do corporate men, civilised couples, a brown Labrador - who growled the entire time – and the neighbourhoods most intense critics, the tabby cats. I don’t worry about the cats, they give those damning stares even when I’m my most respectable self. I don’t know what their problem is. We did make our way back home eventually, beaming with pride, but mostly sweat.

Essential tips for planning a successful street haul

Have your housemates agree to scope out the streets as they wander home from work over the preceding week. Planning is key.

Make sure your car has sufficient space. A Barina is not going to do the job this time around.

Play beats low as you all cruise through the streets. Music will help your crew get in the mood – Thrift Shop by Macklemore is most appropriate, but feel free to pick your own tunes.

Jump out as a unit making sure to test all furniture by prodding, sitting and putting pressure on seemingly rotting items.

Agree to have a veto. It’s easy to get carried away when you are dealing with free junk and you probably don’t need another life sized cut out of Tina Turner.

Celebrate your haul as a family, because you have successfully contributed to your home as one. I would recommend blasting some music, ordering a pizza and cracking open a bottle or case of your favourite brew.

This is my humble experience of the great council clean-up. So hats off to you if you are both organised and dedicated enough to pull off the holiest of suburban hauls. There’s no shame in exploiting council clean-up day. On reflection, I’m shocked that there hasn’t yet been a Ted-X lecture on the subject.You may get a few judgemental looks as you rummage through the piles of old stuff, but you should fucking own it, because the reality is, you do now.

Pia is an aspiring historian from Canberra. She spends her time staring at the gumtree outside her window and eating yum cha with her mum. She has three marble pears in her bedroom and isn't 100% sure where the cat she lives with came from. She will rarely turn down a glass of wine, but will definitely finish a bottle. You can lurk her @punlopp.

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