(128) Scrapping the suburbs

Descriptions of where suburbia is at call forth questions about its future.  Some of the predictions of where it’s all going for suburbia are dire indeed.  In a world of capital and energy problems the growth of suburbia is safely described as over.  Does that mean we are looking at decay and contraction or adaptation?  Is it possible that we’ll see an element of scrapping, reclaiming and recycling of the very fabric of suburbia? Maybe.  There’s hundreds of thousands of tons, nay millions of tons, of everything from wood to asphalt to aluminium and copper out there.  If it is deployed in a built environment that increasingly is either unsustainable or simply doesn’t meet human needs what will happen to it?  Humans are inventive critters so we’ll probably see all three: adaptation, contraction and physical reclamation of useful materials.

With that in mind we’d like you to meet two guys already at it.  Kenny Chumsky of New Jersey and a Canadian in southern Ontario named Jack-the-Scrapper.  These dudes troll the suburbs garbage picking and scrapping.  They live off the consumer insanity of suburbia but could easily have their way with the very bones and flesh of it without much difficulty we imagine.  Kenny has a charming New Jersey accent and looks a little worse for wear, he doesn’t even don work gloves as he demolishes everything from TV sets to swing sets.  Jack is younger  and could easily be a comedian with his own reality show.  He’s almost as funny as the Chief Publisher here at suburban-poverty.com.  Jack doesn’t look half as rough as Kenny, …must be all that socialist public health care forced on him by his vile government.  Either way, these two men are out there on the edge, testing the future one discarded cast aluminium barbecue at a time.

How to scrap metal from a TV: for copper, wire and aluminum Caution: awesome!
How to scrap a flat TV for cash $$$$ “I’m gonna hit that TV with this axe!”

If you live in a suburban area in North America you probably have noticed a serious rise in scrapping and garbage picking.  Such things were staples of the economic life of developing countries and their visibility here probably speaks volumes.  Copper wire is currently worth about $3.00 a pound and that is why the cords disappear from the toasters and video tape players that go out on garbage day.  Pop cans and scrap aluminium is worth less than a dollar a pound.  Other times scrappers repair or reuse objects and the internet abounds with tales of perfectly good stuff hauled out of the garbage.  Outside the suburban-poverty.com office the first wave of scrappers in vans and pickups, often with trailers, rolls by mid-afternoon garbage day.  There’s another wave around dinner time. Sometimes one around 20:00 and another at 23:00.  Individual pickers and scrappers can cruise by at any time on garbage day.  There’s a man nearby here who scraps on foot with a specially adapted baby buggy.  Not something really anticipated when this grand, sprawling suburban creature was birthed officially in 1974.