Needed: Permatrivia Website

14Jun11

I have some miscellaneous stuff.  Maybe someone would want it.  But how can I connect with them?  I’m not in a situation where I can hold a yard sale – nor would I, for this junk.  On a larger scale, there are endless landfills containing unknown mixtures of useless, recyclable, and perfectly good items, slowly deteriorating, or perhaps not.

What’s needed is a distribution network through which this stuff can find a home.  This network would begin with data entry equipment (basic computer, UPC scanner, camera) at the landfill site, made available to people depositing stuff and/or to urchins who make their living (especially but not only in developing nations) picking through it in search of treasures.  The equipment would probably function best in concert with software that would simplify the categorization process, so that the urchin would not have to spend the time to identify each item manually, but could instead focus on digging out and scanning relevant items.

Items of potential worth would then be placed into a transportation system.  To maximize the payoff for identifying and redeeming useful items, this transportation system would probably function somewhat slowly and haphazardly, though it might make use of empty dumping vehicles that normally deadhead back to their origins after dropping a load at the landfill.

The use of color-coded or SKU-tagged plastic crates or other devices may simplify the process of moving items with some value to the next stop, and sorting them there.  That next stop could be a mere field or empty lot, though these days in some places there are empty warehouses and other industrial and commercial buildings that, at least until their purchase or other repurposing, might produce a trickle of income, not only to their owners, but also to any other urchins who might wish to sort, stack, or otherwise arrange those crates, incoming from the landfill, for their eventual distribution to clearing warehouses in destination cities.

Each step in the redemption process — the discovery of the item, its placement into transit, its sorting, and so forth — could supply tiny (or, in the case of the occasional more valauable discovery, not so tiny) amounts of income to these various participants.

The concept of the Permatrivia website is that, as long as there are fields, plastic boxes, warehouses, or other places to store things, it is conceivable that some use may eventually be found, in one place or another, for many items that now wind up in landfills, provided they can be identified at sufficiently low cost and rescued before they are damaged or decayed.

The trash collection process itself admittedly damages and crushes many potentially useful items.  People save a tiny fraction of that stuff by sending it to nonprofits (e.g., Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army).  Except for voluntary drop-off efforts, reaching into the garbage collection process would be a much more ambitious matter.  The concept expressed here is essentially that it makes more sense to preserve something, as long as it has potential value, than to ruin it and then use it to pollute the landscape.

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