I’m warned to stand back as they crank open the door to the green shipping container at the Nuffield Household Waste Recycling Centre.

And it’s a good job I do as a pair of Lowry-style clogs catapult themselves towards me. Followed by a guitar.

Unsurprising, as the space is totally rammed with pine tables, three sets of golf clubs – one hardly used – disembodied china hand, plastic doll, tapestry of Christchurch Harbour, three sets of engineering instruments, including a micrometer, books – lots of books (no one wants Fifty Shades anymore, do they?) wooden door, still in its B&Q wrapping, fish-tank (complete with fake rock), plastic fig tree and two creepy-looking African statues.

I’m gobsmacked, especially when they tell me this constitutes just ONE week’s gleanings but Ian Poultney, the borough’s Environmental Development Manager, has seen it all. Including, he says, ‘a box of sex toys’. Oh dear.

They’ve had prosthetic legs, a Rolex watch (they traced the owner via its unique registration number) and on one unforgettable day, £640 in £20 notes.

“I got this call to say there were all these twenties fluttering about,” remembers Ian. They were traced to a house clearance firm.

They’ve had guns, crossbows and Samurai swords – they get the police to take these away – and on more than one occasion have had to call the bomb squad to deal with live ordnance and ammunition.

Ian shows me a pile of around 30 bikes including a whizzy Claud Butler model.

Astonishingly – and depressingly – this represents just THREE days worth of discarded cycles.

But the worst thing about all this is the sheer, appalling amount of stuff they receive which could be reused, if only there was a proper means of doing it. Which, thanks to some nifty prioritising, there now is.

New To You is the borough’s estimable effort to tackle the depressing sight of perfectly usable items being smashed up for scrap or buried in the ground.

You may have noticed their pop-up in Poole High Street last month where they showcased and sold vintage and collectable bric-a-brac. In the early autumn they plan to open their former garage building in Cabot Lane as a depot where usable items can be sold direct to the public, which isn’t currently possible at Nuffield.

The building is being painted by exoffenders, with white paint brought to Nuffield for recycling and, says Ruzina Begum, who is running this part of the show, they have already amassed a fascinating hoard.

She shows me a truly hideous World War II baby’s gas mask, a brand new House of Fraser wedding hat, two boxes of Waterford Crystal champagne glasses and piles and piles of what appears to be the most missbought item in the UK – Venetian blinds.

“We have dozens of them still in their boxes,” she says.

Part of Ruzina’s job is to identify potentially valuable items – such as the boxes of ancient film footage including cans entitled ‘The Funeral of King George’ and the handsome office chair that turned up one day.

“Someone remembered seeing it in a James Bond film,” she says. Her research showed that the Herman Miller Aeron Chair retailed new at nearly £1,000. It was eventually sold on eBay for several hundred pounds.

This money and any other raised from sales, recycling or not sending stuff to landfill – which costs £80 a tonne – goes back into the environment budget.

However, the scheme also does another valuable job – supporting vulnerable families.

Ruzina keeps lock-ups filled with smart, clean and often brand-new furniture and household requisites, from high-chairs, to bedlinen still in its wrappers. Because the crisis loan budget has been slashed it often means that families who are re-housed by the council may have no budget for furniture or household items.

“I remember one mother like this who we were able to supply with the basics,” says Ruzina.

“Some people don’t have a chair or even a bed or saucepan to warm up food, or cutlery to eat with.”

Other items they squirrel away are musical instruments; from ukuleles to drums and even a sliver trumpet.

These will be offered as part of a scheme to help disadvantaged children acquire an instrument so they can learn music.

Something they never sell, however, are medals: “If we can’t trace the family we pass them to a regiment or museum,” says Ian.

They can’t sell electrical goods, not even the enormous flat-screen TV still under warranty that took four of them to shift into the components lock-up.

Site worker Marcel still can’t get over it.

“It was as if the bloke thought we should admire him for being well-off enough to chuck it away,” he says.

Another thing they can’t sell from the depot is a bag of barbecue charcoal by the main door because: “We discovered a robin’s nest inside it,” says Ruzina.

But what of the stuff they really can’t move on?

Ian marches me onto the Nuffield depot’s mighty floor space, with £250,000 plant shovelling green waste, wood for bio-fuel and good old household muck.

Sometimes that muck gets spilt, along with oil, grease and slime.

Big spills call for big solutions and Poole borough has them. “We just get the Caterpillars to pinch up a dumped mattress between their teeth and then press it down to absorb the solution,” says Ian, and, as he describes the process, a giant Caterpillar solemnly wipes the floor.

But even this isn’t the best bit. Because, despite all the work, all the time and everything I’ve seen, Poole borough has managed to pull off virtually its entire New To You project without spending a penny...

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