Finding Furniture: Should You Take it off the Street?
It’s Friday, you’re walking home from work, the sun is shining, Kerry from accounts brought in cake for the whole team — it’s a good day. That’s when you spot it, the perfect-for-your-room bedside table that you’ve been looking for all these months. And it’s dumped on the curb, no less. And so the inevitable question emerges — should you take the found-furniture home?
Making use of what others have left behind is as old as time itself and, in London, is so common that it has its very own nickname — wombling. This comes from the furry children’s characters ‘the Wombles’, who would ‘Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish.’ You may remember them from their 1974 Christmas album. If you don’t, then now is the time to learn.
Whether you live in London, are a large common-dwelling creature or simply like old stuff, there are plenty of reasons to womble. And, here are some things to remember while you do!
1) Ask yourself: Is it discarded?
This may seem obvious, but sometimes people just like to store things in their front gardens. It never hurts to knock on the door and ask — you wouldn’t want to leave someone wondering what happened to their grandma’s lamp. Often, people will write a note making it crystal clear that the item is up for grabs, so look out for that!
2) Check it won’t do more harm than good.
Despite what Goosebumps may have taught us, the chances of taking home a mirror that tries to steal your soul is slim. There are, however, very real potential problems with snapping up found furniture — and they generally come in creepy-crawly form. Learn to recognise woodworm, bedbugs and anything else you wouldn’t want to take home with you.
3) It’s good to be green.
You don’t only have to think about the possible problems! Taking and reusing furniture is far more sustainable and eco-friendly than buying new, so pat yourself on the back and reward yourself with a fancy (organic) coffee. Good on you, eco-warrior.
4) Check with your flatmates!
Imagine you’re having a bad day. All you want is to make some tea, watch your favourite show and forget about it. But, when you walk into your flat, what’s this? A raggedy three piece suite has materialised in your already small front room. Not cool. A quick text or phone call to your flatmates before acquiring new furniture is always necessary.
Top Tip: If you’re scared of losing the found-furniture while contacting your people, sit on it.
5) Pass it on.
Next time you move, want to get a new table or stop liking a lamp (or have found a new one in the street), why not put your old stuff on the curb with a little note: ‘Free to the womblers of the world.’