Grand Junction's Spring Cleanup program is well underway, and while proving to be a valuable public service, there is another side to consider when evaluating the success of this effort.

Many people consider this program to be a blessing. I would not disagree. As a homeowner and owner of various other properties, the Spring Cleanup program is invaluable. It is an opportunity to dispose of tree limbs, leaves, and other waste which accumulates over the course of a year.

Unfortunately, there is the flip side. By now you've noticed tremendous amounts of discarded items which could have easily been recycled or refurbished. It seems as though every neighborhood has at least one house which somehow manages to put two or three couches out in the street on an annual basis. Not only that, it often seems as if it is the same two or three couches. How do they do this? You see them getting hauled off. The next year rolls around, and POOF, almost identical couches appear.

Scroll through the photo gallery above. While driving through Orchard Mesa a few years ago, I spotted this old, beat up, and oddly enough burnt school desk sitting in a large pile of trash. Yes, I fully admit it, I took the desk out of the trash and put it in my truck. I don't usually dumpster dive, but this was an exception. To my eyes, this thing had potential.

Following three evenings of sanding, woodworking, and painting, the desk was transformed from the disaster in the first photo into the nice, reusable desk in the second and third photo. The overall cost of this project came to:

  • Roughly $2 worth of sandpaper (pun intended)
  • $8 worth of paint
  • .25 Cents worth of Bondo
  • A few bucks for the lumber for the desktop
  • A few pieces of scrap wood for the chair

When it was all said and done, I spent a few evening having fun working with my dad in his workshop. The refurbished desk went to a friend's two daughters.

When did we become such a "disposable" society? Granted, sometimes things are worn out and need to go. In the case of this desk, had it not been refurbished, the metal components could have easily been recycled.

Speaking with my mother, we debated the matter of refinishing couches and chairs. She used to work at Feller Furniture in Grand Junction, reupholstering sofas and chairs. According to her, in this day and age, with the option of "throw away" furniture, it is typically cheaper to replace than reupholster. Many stores carry sofas and loveseats in the $300 range, making the entire unit less expensive than the cost of the material needed to reupholster.

To date, on at least five occasions, trash raiders have come through my neighborhood sifting through the piles. They typically haul off recyclables and items which can be reused. Unfortunately, in the process, they manage to throw trash all over the place.

I love the Spring Cleanup Program. At the same time, though, I wish WE the public would reevaluate this service. A few criticisms were made in a previous post, and a listener told me to "get off my high horse."

My question to you: Have the items we dispose of really reached the end of their usefulness? Could they be repaired or refurbished? Could local organizations like the Salvation Army, the Sav-A-Pet store, or Catholic Outreach use these items? Please take a second look at those items before you set them out in the street to be hauled to the dump.

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