Trash-to-Treasure Recycling Rises with Flooding

People are tossing flood-soaked items; and others are claiming them.

Renee LaLone and her mom cruised the neighborhood slowly Tuesday morning, casting eyes side-to-side.


They spied a white rocking chair and plucked it. It was in a curbside pile fronting a home off Paradise Road.

Renee wedged the rocker into the back of her car, and the two shoved off for the next stop — yet to be discovered.

Welcome to the Swampscott world of trash-to-treasure recycling.

Chairs and desks, and couches and cabinets that once sat inside homes now stand outside them in the wake of last week’s flash flooding in town.

There’s plenty of competition for the stuff. 

The mother-daughter-duo didn’t know it but they beat the competition to the rocking chair.

A woman in a new looking mini-van who had just salvaged furniture from a Paradise Road pile, turned back — a bit dejectedly, it appeared — from the rocking chair pile after she saw she got beat to the heap.

Treasure hunters, restorers, eBay traders and the like are combing roadside piles in town.

LaLone does not resell any recovered items.

She restores and re-uses them at home in the Diamond District in Lynn.

At 11 am, a few blocks away at the corner of Burrill and Paradise, Swampscott resident Francis Nuamah pulled two big and interesting looking suitcases from a dozen such cases just off the curb.

He placed them on a dolly and carted them to the back of his house.

The suitcases got soaked last week in waist-deep water that rushed into his basement.

He was tossing the suitcases just like he had tossed an earlier load of flood-soaked items.

But a passerby had seen him tossing the curious looking suitcases and asked him to please put them to the side so she could come back later in the day and pick them up.

Francis said sure.

“I don’t know what she wants them for, but if she wants them she can have them,” he said.

It’s not just furniture that residents are tossing.

There are bags of clothes and scrap wood, toys and tricycles. Last week a lady on Bates Road tossed a genuine fur coat that got flood soaked.

LaLone and her mom are only after furniture they can reuse.

The Indiana and Michigan transplants are good with their hands.

The mom taught herself how to restore and refinish furniture. 

Then she taught her daughter how to do it.

“I think we are very frugal people,” Renee said.

A few weeks ago in Swampscott she pulled an antique ladder chair from the curb. This was pre-flood.

Still, she stripped and finished the wood and redid the rush seating,

Now it’s a beautiful rich brown chair that someone can sit on.

GB October 12, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Really? This stuff was in water that was contaminated with sewage.
Neil Petrocelli October 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM
The town wants to encourage recycling! What a joke! The recycle company hand picks what they want to take. Let the trash pickers take it. Only in Swampscott can you fill a barrel with recycle, set it to the side to distinguish it and then have it left there still filled. Wake up Town Hall!
Linda Goldstein October 12, 2011 at 12:59 PM
I was just thinking the same thing about trash picking. And, in fact, I put my soda cans in a box on top of my recycling bin in the hope that someone who needs the money (or is industrious enough to collect cans to earn some) will take them.


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