Trash and treasure in Helsinki’s parks


I used to love Cleaning Day at work in Sydney. I remember singing ‘I’m having the time of my life‘ from Dirty Dancing as I hurled old paper files behind me, ready for the shredder. We were like a big messy family in that office and we’d fill a skip outside with rubbish that people would sift through on their way past. One year I saw a man take home a big double wardrobe we were giving away, balanced carefully on his ten-speed bicycle. Another time a well-meaning client brought us in a gaudy statue of a dolphin sitting on a log that he had just found and would look great in the office! I thanked him and then put it back in the skip where he had got it from.


So there’s something so exciting about seeing the people of Helsinki being encouraged to clean out their homes and then hold outdoor sales around the city. Siivouspäivä, or Cleaning Day, is held twice a year with the event being held for the fifth time just last Saturday 24th May.


People can set up to sell their unneeded belongings anywhere around the city. I saw stalls outside apartments, on street corners, in parks and on pavements. There were loads of clothes and kids toys for sale as well as homewares and books.


People were out enjoying the sunshine, perusing the stalls and having picnics. Stallholders were drinking wine in the sun or eating with family and friends. There was a lovely festive feeling as the city’s belongings were moved from one home to another.


At the end of the day community development agencies UFF and Fida arrive in certain spots to take away any unsold goods to sell in their charity stores. Bins and recycling areas are also advertised on the Siivouspäivä website to avoid junk being left behind. As the website says, its ‘the neatest festival of the year.’