Kerbside (& Relationship) Clean Up

May 9, 2017

Image: National Storage

It’s true that Old Adage “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure” which is why I suspect it’s an Old Adage. This is clearly demonstrated by the annual Kerbside Clean Up currently happening in my suburb.

There is nothing like watching impoverished Uni students going at it Hunger Games-style over a mouldy chair or bean bag in the streets of St Lucia for sheer entertainment value. But the students are only one of the marauding gangs patrolling the streets waiting for that elusive still working barbeque or other treasures to turn up on front lawns.

It turns out Kerbside Clean Up serves another very useful purpose I hadn’t realised. Now Dear Readers, if you’re looking for that perfect time to end your unhappy relationship and can’t get out to IKEA (as per my previous advice on a fail-safe way to end a romance), then Kerbside Clean Up is another good option. Think of it as a Spring Clean for your life.

A very good friend of mine has just off-loaded her not-good- enough-for-her-nobody- liked-him- cheating-bastard- Boyfriend. In a happy coincidence, she lives in my suburb! Whilst coming to grips with the train wreck ending of their relationship, the only smile I’ve seen her crack since she ended it was watching the surrounding students/residents descend like a pack of vultures on all his belongings we put in boxes out the front of her house.

We sat on the veranda and had cocktails and cheered. One guy was holding up stuff and asking “Ahhh, this is really expensive aftershave/shirt/cufflinks/runners/Fit Bit, are you sure I can take it?”My friend raised her glass in a toast and said “Go for your life mate!” She did call Ex Boyfriend and tell him his stuff would be in boxes out the front of her house but forgot to mention it was Kerbside Clean Up. Whoops.

But the Kerbside Clean Up silver lining is there was no messy coming over to collect his things, having angry/awkward conversations, going through your treasured possessions you once bought together when everything was champagne and roses blah blah blah.. No, Kerbside Clean Up is the emotional equivalent of an amputation. Boom – Gone. I’m a huge fan and will be recommending it to all my girlfriends in the future*. (Unless it’s an amicable break up in which case both parties can be adults about it)*.

I can really only be a spectator in the Kerbside Clean Up due to my Neat-Freakiness. I don’t hoard things – if I’m not using it, or it’s outlived its purpose at my place then I give it away to charity.(SIDEBAR: Although lately I have been saving foil – not to make a hat to stop giant corporations reading my mind or anything – just to re-use later. I’m also keeping rubber bands that keep my sushi in its plastic container. Not that I ever found a second use for the rubber bands. That’s normal isn’t it?)

My Frusband was staying/freeloading recently and the sight of all the abandoned paraphernalia people were turfing out made him rather cross. He has recently converted to minimalism as he moves a lot with his work and also travels seven months of the year. The great irony being that while he has less stuff he still managed to have it strewn from one end of my place to the other. I suspect laziness is his primary motivation but I think he has a valid point, especially when we stopped and looked at numerous piles of unwanted goods containing what only a few years ago were the new ‘must have’ appliance or gadget which has probably since been replaced by the latest incarnation.

I applaud those who take others things and find a purpose for them. A conscious re-coupling of stuff. Before Kerbside Clean Up, the original and ultimate place to forage for good stuff was the dump (before dumps became overly sanitised and compartmentalised). In fact, I have a beautiful wrought iron side table with a glass top and a pot plant stand I salvaged from the dump years ago. When I was young I used to go with my Dad when he took a load of rubbish to the dump on Sunday afternoons and still did it from time to time when I was home from Uni. Loved it! Oh the fun you could have at the dump!

When guests comment on how nice either of those items are, I proudly pipe up, “Oh thanks! I found it at the Grafton dump years ago.” This has inspired me to make my own commitment to less stuff. I am not going to purchase anything (apart from food & entertainment related items) that includes, appliances, gadgets, accessories or clothing until 2018. Wish me luck!

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Alexandria Bernard

With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.


Alex’s voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.