New Yorkers have had an unspoken tradition of freecycling for years. Walking down any city street, we often see items set up in “display” that are free for the taking. Perfectly usable books, furniture, clothing, purses that are meant for the garbage can be found on stoops and curbs, left because their former owners would rather see them put to re-use than in the trash. But now this tradition of anonymously passing along used furniture could face a fine — for both parties! The Department of Sanitation is fining those who place furniture on the curb and those who take it. What gives?
It may not be a total surprise that the Department of Sanitation will issue fines to those who put furniture out on a non-trash day. Putting up to six items out the night before a trash pick-up is perfectly acceptable, but put out a nice dresser or couch before that in hopes that someone will take it could land a $100 to 300 fine taped to your front door.
What is even more unreasonable is the fine given to garbage pickers for taking furniture left on the street. Once a piece of furniture (or air conditioner, for example) is left on the street, it is officially considered city property. If you can lug that couch by hand, you may be abiding the law, but borrow a car to pick it up and you could be fined up to a whopping $2,000!
These fines seem hefty and unnecessary for the act of trying to re-use something instead of having it end up in a landfill. Let’s just hope the Sanitation Department doesn’t start trolling Craigslist “curb alerts” to fine their next victim!