You would be amazed at the stuff you can find in the curbside trash in this country. The city of Austin has twice-yearly bulky trash pickup, which is a great time to pick up some good trash scores. Furniture, lumber, landscaping materials, large appliances, and car tires can all be found at the curb during bulky trash pickup week. You can also find some great stuff outside student housing (in Dumpsters and at the curb) at the end of each semester. I’m not much of a Dumpster diver but I’ve been known to fish out a thing or two. Dumpster diving seems best suited for folks who walk a lot (you can just peek under the lid as you walk by). I tend to keep my eyes peeled for curbside stuff as I’m driving.
A file cabinet
A Pottery Barn nightstand
2 heinous metal diner chairs I covered in oilcloth
Lots of kids’ clothes
Kids’ toys, esp. sandbox and other outdoor toys
Lumber and plywood
5 gallon buckets
The Gray Chair (everyone’s favorite upholstered chair in the living room)
Plastic lawn chairs
Shelves and bookcases
Gardening pots and stands
A basketball hoop
Weights for weightlifting (Mr. Chanclas is a Crossfit dork)
A toddler potty
The kitchen table
A decorative wooden carving of two weird cherubs that I hung in the yard
A garden hose roller stand
A wooden screen door
My mom pulled two entire dining room sets out of the trash, made new cushions for the chairs, and gave the sets away to my cousin and my sister when they moved into their first apartments. My brother-in-law has rescued a ton of stuff from the trash, including bicycles, a Kettler car (cool kids’ riding toy), and a Dell netbook (which he gave to me and I use to this day). Every time we have moved I have gotten all of our cardboard moving boxes out of the trash. Liquor stores are a great place to get medium-sized cardboard boxes.
|Almost every toy pictured here was scavenged from the trash.|
Some folks might feel a little icky about scavenged stuff because they worry it might not be clean. A good wipe-down with bleach solution effectively cleans hard surfaces. Clothes and fabric goods can be laundered in hot water with a little bleach and dried in the clothes dryer for a heat treatment. I rarely pick up upholstered furniture and when I do I check it for stains and weird smells. A lot of the things I pick up are for outdoor use so I don’t have to worry much about germs and pests. (I once picked up a bunch of nice, thick plywood that turned out to be tunneled by termites. Even that turned out okay because there were no longer any termites in it. And even if there had been, it was kept away from my house. And termites are EVERYWHERE in Central Texas.)
I’m always amazed at the things people throw out. And, in addition to getting stuff I need for free, it makes me feel good to keep all that useful stuff out of the landfill. Recycling is nice and all, but reuse is even better.