Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My first time dumpster diving

I honestly think I have never really dumpster-dived (dove?) before. I've bought things at DI, or accepted hand-me-downs, or old furniture from a neighbor, but I have never seen something sitting by a dumpster, thought, "hmm, I'd like that to be inside of my house," and actually hauled it in.

Until we moved here. I mentioned before how it's hard to fit your belongings from one house into another. Sometimes you don't have everything you need even if your household was technically complete before the move.

Take a full-length mirror, for example. In Tucson, our closet doors were mirrors so we had plenty of looking glass space. Here in Ithaca, the only mirror in the house was in the bathroom, and with how short I am, I could see about the top third of my face and that was it.

We were at Target and saw a cheapo full-length mirror for $6. We didn't buy it right then but we thought we'd probably be back eventually to make the purchase.

Then later that same day, we saw a full-length mirror, pretty much exactly like the one at Target, except old and used and covered in little puffy anime stickers, sitting by the dumpster at the apartment complex. Bonus! We hauled it off immediately.

Here is our free mirror, in all its beauty. The anime stickers were removed by Miriam prior to this picture being taken.

What have you found dumpster diving? What have you contributed to the pile? We left an old entertainment center by the dumpster once in Tucson and before we even got back inside, we saw a Mexican family hauling it away. And I swear one of my friends told me they used to dumpster dive behind a grocery store and find unopened, expired packages of Oreos and things - and then they would eat said items. If you are that person, please comment and tell me I'm wrong about the details.


JackJen said...

Welcome to the dumpster diving capital of America, my friend. I don't know if Ithaca has the same trends as New England, but it's INCREDIBLY common to see a variety of items at someone's curb--with the understanding that everyone knows it's free and for the taking.

We've acquired some AMAZING curbside finds...including our gas grill, which I actually made Joe talk to the PERSON to double-check that it was, indeed, free.

No one even puts 'free' signs on anything....if it's curbside near the garbage cans, then you can take it. It's just the understanding we all have.

(which also means you have to be careful with your belongings on trash night...because you never know who's going to be cruising the neighborhood thinking that Ian's toy ride-on john deere tractor is for the taking.)

AmandaStretch said...

I snagged a metal shelving unit that was sitting curbside once. It was the same day I was fighting with an IKEA shelving unit, and it wasn't working. It was a blessing to find a larger, already put together one practically right outside my front door.

karina said...

I have both donated and claimed many, many dumpster items. It's just what you do east of the Mississippi. I love free stuff! A cousin of Spencer's actually furnished an entire house with items she found free on the side of the road and it's beautiful. Most of the stuff she got was real wood - she sanded and refinished all of it and her house looks spectacular.

Laura said...

I love the way your blog looks.
I have never seen anything in the garbage that was worth taking back out. If I ever saw something nice, I probably would take it.

christi and clifton said...

By your title, I thought you meant you dived into the dumpster. When we first moved to Tucson, I was throwing my garbage away and as it was disappearing into the dumpster I glimpsed my license in the garbage bag. I asked Clifton to jump in there and get it out. What a guy! :) My sister-in-law found a Brita pitcher that she used for 2 years and gave it to us. It lasted 2 years before it died. Good find. :) Unfortunately we haven't found anything in our neighborhood worth saving.

The Ensign's said...

Chad and I found an old buffet table which we took and refinished and then gave to his mom since it was more her style.

Fromagette said...

My wok that I've used forever and ever and absolutely love my mom found on a garbage can when on a walk with my dad.

And my computer desk was next to the dumpster at our old apartment complex.

And our heavy duty cookie sheets Hubby found in the dumpster at his apartment complex in Provo.

And the list goes on and on. Hurray for people who through away perfectly usable items!

Lu&Moo said...

Um, it's called Urban Scavenging. And the person who told me that was the proper title DID get food out of dumpsters--Beyond Bread's dumpster being one of them. Apparently she found perfectly good loaves of bread (fancy bread, mind you) all neatly packaged.

Britney said...

Like Clifton did, my husband has been dumpster diving, literally. We accidentally threw away a $50 bill of all things! Jeremy stood in our apartment complex dumpster and waded through trash for a considerable amount of time in the middle of winter desperately trying to find the darn thing. Alas, we never found it. :(

Emily said...

I feel really bad that this is your first time dumpster diving! So sad. I would tell you about my experiences...if this weren't such a widely read blog. In person, definitely! I guess it will have to wait for another time. (I think the oreo thing is a grand idea! Why not?)

Bridget said...

Emily, I thought you were the Oreo person. Dang, I guess not.

I think I recall some details about your dumpster experience, but what I remember involves feminine products, so maybe not...?

Suzanne Bubnash said...

We've found a few useful castoffs in or near dumpsters. But our biggest coup was our first Christmas after our marriage and we were poor as church mice. We had zero dollars to spend on Christmas decor but Craig had an idea. He knew that kids who lived in dorms often had some discretionary income and probably had Christmas decorations in their rooms. After the dorm-dwellers had all left to go home for Christmas we went over to the dorm dumpsters and sure enough, they were full of great Christmas stuff, including at least one fully decorated tree!, which we transported to our apartment and enjoyed for the next two weeks.

Shannan said...

My version of dumpster diving is the "free stuff" section of Craigslist.
Holy cow.

I had two chairs that I wanted to get rid of and I posted it on free stuff and sure enough, within one hour I had someone at my house hauling my chairs out of my house.

I rescued an old dresser from the curb and refinished it and it still bears our clothes today (in our walk-in closet).

Jeanerbee said...

Oh yeah, we picked up some things in MA (a sand table for Eli) and a couple of things out here already! People throw away the craziest things here! We got a practically new little tykes basketball hoop, a turtle sandbox, and a kid swimming pool with slide!! It's great - now I run errands on garbage day just so I can browse around and maybe snag something. I love it =). OH and I second the "free" section on craigslist... as well as freecycle.com

Amanda said...

Every "brush and bulky" trash day we leave items by the curb that end up being taken before the garbage truck even shows up. Old couches, TVs with no picture, shelving units, you name it. Need to clean house? Leave it by the curb on the southside and it'll be off your hands in no time.

Kat Clark said...

I saw a special on tv about people in New York who make dumpster diving like a lifestyle. They find enormous amounts of stuff behind grocery stores. Slightly damaged fruit, unopened rolls of toilet paper and all sorts of things. It was really interesting.

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