I pull signs.
The day after an election; better, right after the polls close on the day of an election, I drive around and pull political yard signs from public property. Yes, it’s legal, and yes, it’s a good thing, particularly for the obscure races and losing candidates. Get them gone. Eventually, the local and state highway departments will remove the signs, but you, too, can help clean up the world by pulling them, once the election is over.
Once you’ve pulled signs, by the way, you will be ever so much more aware of placing them in locations where they can be accessed and removed safely. But I digress.
I pulled signs this year, and over several weeks and five counties, came home with three truckloads. Big signs on steel posts; small signs on wire frames, corrugated signs, plastic bag signs. I’ve pulled them all. (Carry gloves. Wear sturdy shoes. Use a cargo net over the bed of the pickup to keep them from blowing away.)
When I got home each day, I sorted the signs by type–plastic bags, corrugated plastic, and stapled paper. The plastic bag signs went to the dump quickly; they were mostly from the opposing party and there is nothing I could think of to do with them. I held on to the corrugated plastic signs for a while, but even Pinterest failed me on reusing corrugated plastic. I could build a birdhouse or 30. Nothing else useful that I could see.
They went to the bulky bin.
Mangled sign frames go into metals recycling. Straight sign frames have been recycled into chain link fence anchors, in a yard with digging dogs. They have also been used as floating row cover supports by local organic farmers. (The frames rust pretty quickly, once their paper covers have been removed.)
I neatly stacked the paper signs and slid them into an empty 55# dogfood bag so they wouldn’t blow all over my yard before I could get them to the dump. A 55# dogfood bag will hold a lot of signs.
I made the last significant sign pulling run on Monday, December 12. It was the first time I had driven west on US 70 between Goldsboro and Raleigh in daylight. Normally, I drive that route at 5:00 am to beat traffic, and it’s too dangerous to stop in the dark when commuters are not expecting a vehicle to stop. I had already cleared the eastbound side of the highway.
When I sorted the signs after this run, it was clear that the paper signs were starting to disintegrate. I wondered how long it would take for them to fall apart completely. I decided to conduct an experiment.
I hauled the now packed-full bag of paper signs to the backyard and leaned it up against the compost heap. I added a shovelful or two of dirt across the top, and left it. The top of the bag is open to the rain. It is only stitched shut at the other end, and I’m pretty sure the bag is not water tight.
This is the state of decomposition, three months into the project. The bag was straight early in the project, and started sagging in early January. We’ve only had one weekend of serious single-digit cold temperatures. Warmer weather and attendance bacterial action will do a whole lot more to break down the signs.
I’ll post updates as I notice changes.
February 9, 2016 update
I took those pictures above about a week ago. Today, I went out to the compost heap and saw that the bag had sagged again, after a heavy rain. Turned the bag around so that whatever is happening inside, will happen on both sides. Hoping the dirt and the bacteria in it will wash into the packed signs and work its magic on the paper.