From transparent trash bags that serve as “a friendly way to offer products a second chance and stimulate sustainable behavior” to DIY dolly kits for wheeling “urban treasures home,” the curbside freecycling is a movement equipped with some rather brilliant accessories. It makes sense then that the time-honored tradition of rescuing orphaned furniture, building materials, and household odds from the street has at long last gotten its own crowdmap … in Toronto, at least.
Unlike recently-expanded-to-NYC social sharing platform yerdle, Gavin Cameron’s Trashswag website (and corresponding iPhone and Android apps) doesn’t revolve around participating in a feel-goody “sharing economy” in which you may find yourself inheriting a surplus toaster oven from that random girl from your high school calc class that you never really said more than five words to but are friends with on Facebook more than 15 years later anyways. Trashswag’s mission is simple: To take the sometimes exhausting and not always fruitful legwork out of urban salvaging. It's quick, it's often anonymous, and, one would hope, highly effective.
That being said, part of the joy of urban scavenging/salvaging is randomly stumbling across the previously loved end table of your dreams or a box filled with V.C. Andrews paperbacks left on the curb. Trashswag, a site that’s key aim is to allow users “to share and post salvageable materials that have been left outside,” takes the element of surprise out of plucking reusable landfill-bound stuff from city sidewalks.
However, for serious urban scavengers who are constantly on the hunt for discarded materials — Trashswag’s crowdsourced map can be filtered by furniture, architectural salvage, building materials, and wood/timber/lumbers — this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you get to that metal frame table that "just needs new top" before someone else does.
Cameron, who developed the site for his eagle-eyed, restoration-savvy group of friends, explains to Co.Exist: “Once you start noticing, you realize that there is so much left out. I thought there must be some means of mapping of this type of stuff." He adds: “"It’s to encourage and promote re-use. If you look at the landfill numbers, they’re really high, and a lot of that comes from construction. Hopefully, this raises awareness."
As mentioned, Trashswag is currently only a Toronto-based affair although Cameron hopes to expand it elsewhere.