Dear PoP – People Shouldn’t Do This

“Dear PoP,

This chair started the weekend at the top of the block and, got moved over two days. I presume it was put there by someone moving in or out who wanted to get rid of it.

Today it’s in front of my house. The chair looks ok in this picture but, up close, you can see why nobody’s taken it. Its old, very dirty and three days on the street hasn’t made it any cleaner.

It’s one thing to put something on the street that someone wants but if it’s not taken then it’s called dumping. I think it’s great when folks leave decent things on the street for folks to take, but if it’s there more than 12 hours, you gotta take it back and do something else with it.

I called 311 this morning and now, because of the owner’s irresponsibility, the city’s going to have to send a truck out and cart it to the dump.”

Where do you guys fall on the “free” items debate – a nice gesture or a just a lazy way to get rid of your things?

56 Comment

  • You can put free things in front of your house on a sunny weekend afternoon. If it’s still there at the end of the day, you have to take it back in.

  • I think the 12 hour rule seems reasonable. Otherwise call for bulk trash pickup yourself – which I believe is available to district residents. I have to say when I have left stuff out in the past it always gets taken by someone.

  • This is a lazy way to get rid of your things. Sorta like asking a friend to take care of your cat and then refusing to take it back.
    It’s one thing to put small, readily portable items out for grabs. But furniture is a different story. If you want to give away furniture, post it on Freecycle or Craigslist. If it’s worth taking, someone will take it. It seems clear that this furniture is not wirth taking, which is why they put it outside in the first place.

    • +1. I posted a giant desk I have no further use for on Craigslist last week, and it was claimed within 20 minutes and actually picked up within 12 hours.

  • I would say 24 hours. If it’s still there after 24 hours, the owner should get rid of it. And it should stay in front of the owner’s house, not someone else’s.

  • agreed–plus, furniture left outside quickly gets rained on, dogs pee on it, etc. So even if it’s usable at first it quickly isn’t.

    A Wider Circle is a charity that takes furniture donations. People should call them, post on CL and Freecycle, get bulk trash pickup–even put up a sign on a telephone pole. Just not this.

  • I do it all the time but never put my things on the sidewalk, just the on the edge of my property.

    One might call this pratice lazy while another might call it recyling.

    Don’t forget there are many young people or others with less than you who might appreciate/cherish a new dirty old chair.

    • I’ve recycled lots of unwanted furniture but I respectfully suggest that this is not the way to do it.
      According to the OP, this chair has been left outside since the beginning of the weekend. Given all of the rain we have had in the past few days, it’s surely ruined by now. The original dumper just turned his or her problem of unwanted old furniture into a community problem, which is not cool at all.

  • Once again this is an example of the thoughtlessness and inconsiderate nature of so many District residents. Not only in this lazy, but it creates potential problems with a.) loiters and b.) vermin.

    We need to be more vigilant! I would file a report with the police department this time, and if I saw someone in the act, I would immediately call MPD to report unlawful dumping.

    When will the madness end!?

  • +1 on FreeCycle. It’s been both an a lazy way for us to get rid of unwanted but still useful things, and (hopefully) a nice gesture for someone who wants it.

  • Bedbugs. They make me nervous about any sort of furniture out on the street…even Craigslist.

  • I’ve done it before, but on our property, not on the sidewalk. I think it’s a fine way to freecycle, but I agree that setting a 12-hour or by-sundown self-limit seems neighborly.

    And of course, you can always ACTUALLY freecycle.

  • We put out our 10 year old (clean) sofa and chair from Crate & Barrel last spring and brought some beers down to watch the show from our porch. It was hilarious.

    Within about 20 minutes, one guy came and made a bunch of calls to a buddy telling him to ‘bring the van!’. Another 10 minutes later another guy came by and sat on the sofa. He refused to get up when the van showed up and said that it was his furniture. The other guys actually started to pick the sofa up with the guy sitting on it. Another guy came by on a bicycle and shouted: “what are you doing with my couch!”. The van guys couldn’t really fit the sofa in so they just partially closed the side doors and drove off with the sofa haning out and the chair on the roof.

    As far as guidelines, I say put it out there if the weather is nice for a day. If it’s still there, call for a bulk trash pick up.

    We have put lots of things out and they are never there more than 90 minutes, but all of it has been perfectly usable (ikea shelves, old waste bins, old pots and pans, etc.).

    If it is trash, we throw it out or take it to the dump.

  • just an FYI, keep your confirmation number from DPW. If the inspector for your neighborhood comes along and sees this, they’ll tag you for a $75 violation. This happened to me a few months back … I scheduled the pickup … was ticketed … called DPW … “we don’t have your call in our records” … me begrudgingly writing a $75 check to DPW. The same jerks who’ve been blatantly wasting DC Tax dollars skirting the law and procuring vehicles outside of the current restrictions. Awesome.

    • ah

      Good advice. Had something similar happen to me, I explained, and never heard from DPW again. Not sure if they exonerated me or this simply reflected mismanagement on their part.

  • Put it right back in front of the owner’s house and write “no thanks” on it.

  • I did this a few weeks ago, except instead of a chair it was an enormous box of stuff. I put it out on a warm Sunday afternoon when there was lots of foot traffic, put a “curb alert” on Craigslist, and resisted the urge to throw a lot of nasty ugly stuff in there. Old issues of Cooking Light, a quesadilla maker, a “giant cupcake” pan… those all went like hotcakes. The next morning was trash day, so whatever remained got picked up and taken away.

  • We’ve done this frequently, but the longest anything lasted on the curb was 20 minutes. On two separate occassions people stopped us before we were even all the way to the curb to ask if we were putting it out for free.

    I think a reasonable limit is sundown, in good weather.

  • Real shame. The chair has nice lines and I think it would be a fantastic find for someone with reupholstery skills.

  • I usually put my free furniture in one of the sprawling exurban parking lots. Like the one out by the Bailey’s Crossroads Seven Corners. I figure there are more potential lucky beneficiaries out there.

    Heads up, suburbanites! You never know what treasures you may find!

  • Is that Kenyon Street and 14th?

    The sign should say ‘GRATIS’.

    I did that in front of my house and it worked much better.

    • I was worried a few months ago because I was putting out a playpen to be thrown away and I didn’t know how to warn someone in Spanish that it was covered in mold.

  • I’m all for recycling, but too often see the contents of these “free” boxes strewn up and down 13th street.

  • Just to round the story out, I called 311 at 8am and the city came and took the chair away by the time I got home. Gotta give DPW props for that.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I call for bulk pick up then put it out. If someone wants it before the city takes it away fine, if not then it is disposed of properly.

  • I think it’s ok if you don’t leave it there beyond sundown; go out and get it or call to have it removed. Freecycle and Craigslist are good ideas, too. Somebody will more than likely be able to get some use out of it, and it keeps it from being in a landfill.

    Everything I have put out to be taken has been gone within 2 hours, except all the chicken bones, condoms, and used syringes I have left out. I just take those & leave them along New Jersey Avenue in Shaw, though.

    It also helps to put a note on it that says “Please don’t steal this chair; I lost my drugs in it somewhere and need to find them.”

  • With so many people moving to the city and needing things I think it is fine. I keep throwing out furniture and the city comes to pick it up, every single time I throw anything like this out, my neighbors comment that others could really use the stuff and I shouldn’t throw such things out. So, I personally think if you live somewhere where people will take it quickly, why not? I haven’t had so much luck with Craigslist other than posting things for free, which I’ve done as well. It’s funny this came up because I now have a dresser from Ikea and a nice metal storage system to dump…too bad it’s the end of the year for the college kids and not the beginning. I will post on Craigslist first…but I’d rather stick it on the street and hope someone in need takes it.

  • Take the “Free” sign off and put a “For sale: $40” sign on it. Someone will “steal” it before the sun comes up.

  • I hate people who do this.

    I’ve had an ongoing battle with DPW over people dumping crap in our backyard. Our backyard is in an alley off a diagonal street so we have a little triangle of land not fenced bordering our neighbor’s garage. People dump stuff there all the time and I have to call the city all the time to pick up. I’ve called DPW to complain but have been told that because it’s on *our* property that we would get cited for the dumping even though we’re the ones calling to complain. What kind of circular logic is that?

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