Trashing St Kilda

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By Drew Grant

A quirky tradition of St Kilda is the impromptu recycling residents perform by leaving their unwanted rummage on the footpath for others to usurp, free of charge. Beggars can be choosers after all. Almost all of it seems to get snatched up. When I put a refrigerator outside after dutifully duck-taping it closed and calling the council to pick it up, my neighbours came a-knockin’ asking whether it still worked. “Of course,” I answered “but once I couldn’t cram anymore cash inside, what was I to do with it?” Ask a silly question…

Some stuff nobody wants; tube TV’s and CD racks come to mind, spend a long time out there. When analogue broadcast met its demise, one couldn’t walk down the street without climbing over once-loved TVs.

At month’s end, when leases expire, departing renters leave all sorts of things out there, much of it just plain rubbish. I watched two blokes carry a sofa three blocks to dump it behind the National Theatre. An energetic display of utter stupidity, as all they had to do was call the council, who would come to take it away, no charge. Instead they schemed to put distance between themselves and an extraneous crime requiring huge effort. Our enterprising sex workers may have gotten some use out of their davenport, but after the first rain it was surely useless.

One might hope landlords would tell tenants they needn’t go to such lengths; just call the council. But landlords have a commercial aversion to speaking to tenants who might want something, which leaves it up to us to get the word out. It’s free, dammit! (www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/hard_green_waste_collection.htm or call (03) 9209 6777)

I am something of a rubbish zealot. Living downwind of McDonald’s, the prevailing onshore breezes carry all manner of golden-arch emblazoned debris to my doorstep. Periodically I storm into Macca’s to tell off the manager, who is always as apologetic as he is underpaid. It seems to help, as they get more attentive to their surrounds for a day or two. I also register a complaint with the council about Macca’s annually, to which Serge responds politely, no doubt rolling his eyes wondering what the F I think he can do about it. Nothing Serge, I’m just venting. Keep up the good work.

Rather than just complain about it, I go up my street once a week picking up the rubbish before it comes to me. Subway runs a close second in the St Kilda trash sweepstakes, with the packaging from those awful pre-made sandwiches from 7-Eleven coming third. Who eats those things? Apparently a lot of people.

Some of the detritus is surprising. An alarming number of caregivers think nothing of tossing soiled diapers onto city streets. Abandoned Corona beer bottles exist far out of proportion to sales, suggesting that Corona drinkers are slobs. People lose a lot of socks, too – it isn’t your washing machine, folks. And reliably, on any Sunday morning one can find in the bushes near the backpackers a stash of booze, new and unopened, presumably planted the previous evening for pre or post-loading, forgotten by some now hung-over celebrant.

The neighbours appreciate my clean-up efforts, forgiving my sarcastic remarks regarding cash-crammed refrigerators. Some lavish embarrassing praise upon me and others have started doing it themselves. Here’s hoping it catches on.

St Kilda exudes an air of tolerance. For some this translates into permission to trash the place. I am often flabbergasted by the scale of mess left in O’Donnell Gardens after a hot summer day. I wish it wasn’t the case, but on some level, that’s the price we pay to live in this wonderful place.

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