This article was not primarily about bed bugs; it was mainly about college students, and how it’s harder than ever to furnish a student apartment from things you find on the curb.
The reasons given: more competition, including not just students, but from people who buy and sell used items, and also young professionals who are into the environmentally positive effects of used furniture.
Bed bugs were also mentioned, and rightly so. Boston has a serious bed bug problem. The Boston Globe reports,
Competition isn’t the only challenge facing students seeking freebies. There’s also the bedbug threat, particularly in the transient Allston and Brighton neighborhoods. This year the city has received 210 requests to inspect for bedbug infestations, 46 of them in “student-heavy” neighborhoods, said Dion Irish, assistant commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.
Because bedbugs have an affinity for mattresses, the city is dispatching inspectors to the area over Labor Day weekend to slap orange warning stickers on mattresses and other cast-off items and to spray-paint wooden furniture where the bedbugs could be hidden.
The bedbug problem has had a chilling effect on students like Darius Wilsey, a Northeastern University junior. Last year his roommate brought home two mattresses from the street only to discover, too late, there was a reason they were there in the first place. “They were infested with bedbugs,” Wilsey said. “Our place became uninhabitable. We had no place to live. I had to live on people’s couches for three weeks.”
Bed bugs not only have serious negative economic, emotional, and social effects on the people who bring the used furniture or mattress home. They also easily spread to neighbors, friends, and relatives, costing them a lot in terms of money, time, and sleep.
Bed bugs also, it must be stressed, have a negative effect on the environment. The amount of plastic bags and pesticides involved in one bed bug infestation may well offset the environmental (and economic) benefits to those young professionals mentioned above, and other budding freegans.
Nevertheless, the Globe reports,
. . . none of this has put an end to Boston’s thriving underground free furniture industry.
Well, that’s kind of a shame.
Maybe, instead of “First come, first served,” the article should have been called, “First come, first bitten by bed bugs.”
Just a reminder to everyone in Boston: just because the item you find on the street does not have an orange bed bug warning sticker, does not mean it isn’t infested with bed bugs.