Saturday, August 28

Dumpster Diving

It's true what they say about one man's trash. When we were first married we were still in college and when the school year was up we hit the big time at the local Boy's Hall dumpster.
This may sound gross, but If it does, you have never been dumpster diving. You can find some of the best stuff dumpster diving.

That year alone, we scored a shelf, an old stereo, a chair, and a 27" TV. I'll be honest and admit that someone had rolled up his entire bedding- pillows, mattress pad and all- and dumped it, doubtless to prevent his mother from finding out that it had not been washed all year. And that I did not touch. A boy's dorm at the end of the year is one of the best places to find treasure. Girls will make it all fit in their car, but guys, they just dump it.
Yesterday we were walking thru our neighborhood, and found that someone had rented a dumpster for what appears to be a remodeling project. We grabbed two narrow shelves, one of which will be a lifesaver in the kitchen. And we saved them from going to the landfill. If anyone wants glass shower doors, they're there for the taking.
A close relative of dumpster diving is the annual Boy Scout pick-up day. In our small town, once a year the Scouts come around to haul away large stuff, and everyone puts their stuff they want to get rid of out to the curb. And, being both cheap and friendly, most people put their stuff out a couple days early. Then you can drive around town and grab stuff off the curb. And the Boy Scouts pick up whatever is left.
When my sister moved, she got rid of a bunch of furniture that way.
In Hungary, where my folks live, they are only allowed one bag of trash per week. So once a year all the large trash is brought to a neighborhood center and dumped. Then everybody goes thru it to find things they want. Clothes, furniture, you name it, if it's unwanted it gets dumped. And when everyone's done, the gypsies come dig thru what's left. Then they burn the remainder, which, if the gypsies don't want it, is truly trash.
Frankly, the amount of stuff we throw out in this country is staggering. I wish it was easier to rummage thru other people's unwanted stuff. There are drawbacks, obviously. Those two shelves are out on the porch airing out right now- I'm not gross. I know in some big cities, "Freegans" are raiding dumpsters at night looking for food. That seems very noble and all, but I think I'll stick with the farmer's market.

Have you found anything awesome that someone else threw out?


  1. In college we started a fad of leaving a cardboard box outside our door where we would dump stuff we didn't want. Then our hall-mates would come along and pick through it. It got so popular that everyone on our hall and the next hall over got a box, and then we got in trouble with the fire marshal. It finally morphed into a giant closet in the Parlor where people would abandon their stuff. I got a cute purse and a great pair of flip-flops in there.

  2. Catherine! YOU started the Goodwill Closet?! You're my hero!!! (I'm sure at least half of the female population of Sterling would agree.) I can't think of anything I specifically dumpster dived, but I do know that my parents are the best at getting rid of furniture they no longer need and dumping it with us. Most times a blessing; sometimes a curse. Does that count. :)

  3. Another thing boys dorms are great for is cleaning supplies- you know the supplies their mothers bought them and they never used. One year I found a great 6 drawer rubbermaid unit on wheels completely stocked with paper towels, windex, scrubbing bubbles, etc. I took the entire unit. We used it for 9 years and then I sold it at a yard sale!