Students
Video by Lidian Boelens

Ron Slaats helps out students

House clearance with a heart

Video by Lidian Boelens
Every time Ron Slaats clears out a house, he finds the weirdest things, most of them still in perfect condition. He can’t use them, so he’s decided to give them to students. ‘They already have so much debt.’
5 November om 10:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:16 uur.
November 5 at 10:20 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:16 PM.

Door Sara Rommes

5 November om 10:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:16 uur.

By Sara Rommes

November 5 at 10:20 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:16 PM.

Sara Rommes

Student-redacteur
Volledig bio
Student editor
Full bio

It takes him a while to find the correct house. The streets in this particular Beilen suburb are narrow and confusing, and the houses all look alike. Ron Slaats, who clears out houses for a living, has only been here once before. He starts laughing when he spots a ‘For sale’ sign down the street. ‘That must be it.’ 

He jumps out of his van and goes inside the house. It’s clear no one has lived there for a while. There is almost no furniture and there’s nothing on the walls. The living room is dotted with moving boxes. 

Slaats opens the door to a room off the side. It’s filled with stuff. Stepping over a box in the middle of the room, he spots a large, comfortable chair. ‘Isn’t this nice?’ 

Second home

He starts going through the rest of the stuff. It’s an interesting batch. There’s a fire basket, wood and all; an antique child’s seat; an old teddy bear; a box full of CDs. Leaning against the wall is an entire bed, it’s parts still wrapped up. Slaats pull some of the packaging aside. ‘Look’, he says. ‘This bed is in perfect condition. Wouldn’t some student just love this?’ 

Wouldn’t some student just love this bed?

Slaats’ goal is to help students. He has been clearing out houses with his company Margron Woningontruiming. Most houses are empty because people moved, or someone has passed away. He also cleans houses that have been neglected. He takes on jobs all over the north of the Netherlands, and his company is growing fast. ‘I want to focus on developing my business. The stuff I find is just extra.’

He wants to recycle the furniture and appliances he finds, by giving them to students, for example. ‘Students already have so much debt’, he says. ‘It might sound a little weird, but having to buy things like a waste basket can be quite the expense when you’re in that situation. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get one for free?’ 

Refrigerators and lawnmowers

Beds aren’t all he unearths on an average workday. He has found loads of things on the job: fridges, washing machines, teapots, vacuum cleaners, walkers, cans of paint, antique wardrobes, photo frames, televisions, clothing, curtains, CDs, dolls, lawnmowers, and coffee machines, just to name a few.

People just want more, more, more

Slaats is careful and focused in his work. He is efficient. Walking through the house, he makes a mental inventory of everything he finds. Some of it he’ll take to the dump. He’ll have to sort out all the paper waste, as well as the glass. Anything made of oak he’ll take to the scrapyard. He pats the large oak wardrobe. No one wants these anymore. It’s a shame, he says. He’s considering contacting a woodworking company. Perhaps they can use it. 

He tries to find as many things as he can a second home. ‘People throw so much away. It really shows the society we live in. Especially considering the climate objectives we’re supposed to have.’ 

He especially throws away an unimaginable number of Christmas items. ‘It’s insane, isn’t it?  Some families might not even have the money to buy any of this stuff.’

Environment

Slaats is trying to make a change. Maybe it’s his leftist upbringing, he thinks: he was raised to care about the community, and he has a love for the environment. He’s from an entrepreneurial family and doesn’t mind a bit of extra work if it helps others. He doesn’t care about getting rich. ‘Sure, it’s nice to have some money stashed for a rainy day, but I mainly just want to live’, he says. 

I don’t need all this stuff

He does put stock in a good relationship with his clients. He understands that they sometimes need his help in difficult situations. He is available seven days a week, and he always takes the client’s wishes into account. He doesn’t mind the work; it keeps him active, which is evidenced by his broad-shouldered physique. ‘It’s from carrying all that heavy stuff up and down stairs’, he says, laughing. 

Next to the couch in the living room, he finds a box of old photo albums. After flipping through them, he gets out his phone to text the family who hired him. Just to make sure they took everything they needed. He wouldn’t want to throw away precious memories. The stuff he sees speaks of whole lives lived.

Walkers

It’s time to tackle the shed, which is also full of junk. Slaats points to a walker near the wall. ‘We find so many of those. It’s a shame to throw them away, they’re really expensive.’ He plans to contact the Groene Kruis, a home nursing organisation. He has already donated many walkers to them. He sets this one aside as well.

He’s hired a warehouse to store everything he plans to donate to students. He’s put pictures of everything on his website. Students can tell him what they would like to have, and he will drop it off. His reasons are simple. ‘Our society is so individualistic. People just want more, more, more. I don’t need all this stuff. I’d just as soon help people by giving it away.’ 

Would you like free stuff for your student house or your own room? Here is the list of available items. You can also sign up to help drop stuff off at people’s houses.

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