Hi Lifehacker, Around once a year, our local council allows residents to put their unwanted goods on their front verge to be collected and disposed of at the local tip. However, there are groups of people that cruise around my street sifting through people's rubbish and taking away what they want. Is this legal?
I'd vastly prefer it if these people steered clear of MY stuff. I just don't like the idea of complete strangers stopping in the street and helping themselves to rubbish from my property! Thanks, Rubbish Retainer
Photo: KayVee.INC, Flickr
As the adage goes; one man's trash is another man's treasure — if you're tossing it out anyway, why do you care? Surely it's better for your discarded goods to be reused by another person than ending up as landfill? Even if you're a die-hard misanthrope, think of the environment!
In any event, the space between your house perimeter and the footpath usually belongs to the council. So it's not actually your property anyway.
With that said, the legalities of kerbside scavenger hunts differ from place to place. Indeed, people have been threatened with fines for this practice in the past. Discarded goods technically become council property the moment they're dumped on the nature strip and help to supplement the costs of collection. (Items such as scrap metal are often recycled and/or resold by the contracting services.)
I've actually experienced this first-hand — a few years ago, our council drove past with hedge clippers and removed the power cords to all the discarded CRT TVs on our street to discourage people from taking them. Bloody cheek, eh?
Thankfully, most councils turn a blind eye to this fine Aussie tradition. If you're seriously worried about riff-raff trawling through your stuff, our advice is to hold off until the night before collection. Just be aware that this is kind of being un-Australian. Just sayin'.
We're also keen to get the opinion of readers — do you enjoy it when people collect your council cleanup refuse, or would you prefer them to keep their filthy mits off? Have at it in the comments!
Have a question you want to put to Ask Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.