By HANNAH ZIMMERMAN
The age of front-yard dumpster-diving may be over in Kansas City, Missouri, when the Bulky Item Collection Program turns to appointment only next month. Kansas Citians on the Missouri side will have to be a bit cleverer in their plots to pounce on questionable-stain covered couches and mattresses peppered in fleas that sit on front yards for big trash day.
Back in March, the city decided to save $350,000 by turning its Bulky Item Collection Program into appointment only. The change signals the death of a Kansas City scavenging tradition. Big trash day in KCMO has for years signaled the arrival of those with pickups or a spacious trunk -- and unafraid of some unidentifiable funk – and would take to the streets and swipe what could be salvaged before the trash men came. Move that rotting piece of wood covered in maggots and you just might discover a baby stroller that, with a bath of pure bleach and some duct tape, could be usable.
There are many mourners of big trash day, including those who made a living off it and some who say it amounted to a poor man’s recycling program.
“It is just too bad,” says Patrick Ottesen, owner of Foundation, a salvaged artifacts store. “Not only will we be affected — our customers will be affected as well.”
According to Ottesen, the bulky-item pickup day pays the bills for some scavengers, known in the industry as “pickers.”
“Pickers are out there in their old pickup trucks four to five days before pickup. They are scrappers,” Ottesen says. “A lot of that stuff, they will strip down and take to recycling centers or scrap yards.”
Carol Barta is a self-proclaimed eclectic entrepreneur who advocates “curbside trolling” and often sells the items in her antique booths. She figures pickers will stick to the Kansas side. Barta says Kansas neighborhoods typically have an annual big-item pickup day rather than the confusing Missouri pickup days, which were determined by location.
“In this economy, people are more likely to look for bargains, big-item pickup is the ultimate in recycling,” Barta says. “Why not take advantage of something that will otherwise be destroyed in a landfill?”
For those who don’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out which days to go on the prowl for some sweet trash, here’s a guide to area trash days.