waste not, smash not
waste not, smash not

waste not, smash not

June 2011

I don’t think of myself as a flag waving eco-green-earth-muffin, but I do recycle and compost (ok, mostly because composting makes free plant food and my ficus benjamina grows like crazy in my home made dirt…) and I like to think that saving old bikes is green in a way, one less (crappy) plastic scooter destined for an early date with landfill. Bit I’m getting off topic, this post isn’t about scooters bikes or sailboats, it’s about strange attitudes I’ve encountered lately.

It all starts with the big air compressor I saved from a fate destined for the bottom of a dumpster. A friend of mine is the last man standing in the wet film developing business and we were retrieving some processing machines from a company that is getting out of the wet part of film (who isn’t digital theses days..!) His mandate was to take anything he needed. I salivated over the compressor and we went back for it. It is a great big old thing from the 80’s. But is works and has a massive CFM rating – perfect for painting and sandblasting!

I left the compressor in my trunk for a couple of days as it was a bit large for one person to mussel out -I was so proud I couldn’t resist showing it off to my colleagues at work – until I let the hatch close and watched the rear window shatter before my eyes. Luckily the tint film kept the window together for a couple of months – it even withstood two car washes, the oldschool ones with the beating brushes! One free compressor, one smashed window. I priced out rear windows and the best quote was $350. I called around the scrap yards and found a rear window or $100. When I arrived I saw a whole hatch sitting beside the trailer-office door. They gave me the whole hatch for the price of the window. It wasn’t too bad, about on par with my old hatch, rust in the same place. I put on the new hatch and took the old one to a metal scrap yard, when I flung the hatch on a pile I noticed a nice Yakima Space cadet top box. I asked the guy in the backhoe how much – he said I could have it for free “they paid to dump it here”. I figure he is happy because I just took his garbage away. He points out that he doesn’t have a key but I can just use a hasp and padlock.

Now in order to use a top box I need a roof rack. Craig’s List and ebay weren’t much help – until I Googled Mazda Protege 5 roof rack and it came up in used car listings. I emailed a local corner lot and asked if I could buy the rack. The first email said no, the second email sent 5 minutes later said yes, $75. When I arrive I discover that there is no key – not to worry, the owner tells the minions that it’s not a problem, just jam a screwdriver into it…

I tell the guy that if he brakes the locks getting it off I am not interested. Sanity prevails and we notice that the locks have a number engraved on them. A call to Mazda reveals that the rack is actually Thule, and $5 later I have a key from the local dealer. I return and get my rack, less $5.

Looking over the box I realize if they have a key for the rack, the dealer probably has a key for the box too. After checking 30 keys, the kid at the store tells me we have a winner.

So to recap, I have a compressor, roof racks, top box. I spent some time and effort, but diverted landfill and saved myself thousand dollars if I were to buy it all new. I am surprised at how ready everyone is to smash, and trash perfectly good stuff?  I can only conclude that we are all too rich, or lacking the skills to do even the most basic maintenance to keep all our “stuff” working.

Update: sold the car, sold the compressor (30 gallon Swan) and sold the top box.