Why I Love Dumpster Diving, Garbage Picking, and Other People’s Trash

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

A few days ago, I stepped into the alley behind my apartment and beheld a wonderful sight: a pristine, white dish drainer sitting atop my neighbors’ garbage can.

Heck yeah! This was a clear message from my neighbors. It read, “Hey everyone. I’m throwing this thing away, but it’s in perfect condition, and I know one of you will want it.”

They were right.

Immediately, my natural instinct to acquire perfectly usable stuff that other people are throwing away took over. I snagged the drainer and brought it back to my house, where it joined all the other things I’ve gained from garbage picking.

As I stowed my new-to-me contraption away, I happily thought, “How perfect! I really needed a dish drainer.” (I’m moving to a cozy new apartment on July 1. The place doesn’t include roommates with useful kitchen gadgets.)

Yep, because of my find, I was enjoying a nice little high–like the one you get when you chance upon a dollar bill on the ground.

But then all of the sudden my high started to wear off. And I got annoyed.

I got annoyed because people look down so much on dumpster diving. They think it’s gross and dirty, but what these narrow-minded people don’t understand is that it almost never is.

Just like my neighbors, many people leave the “good stuff” outside their garbage cans, making it clean and easy to grab things. That means you don’t have to do anything untoward, yet you still get to enjoy all the benefits:

  • You prevent the pollution and resource waste that results from making new products
  • You divert “good stuff” from landfills
  • You get cool shit for free!

How amazing!

Below are pictures of things that were all once trashed. They are now my treasures. I hope they’ll inspire you to do a little alley hunting yourself and to always leave your “good stuff” on top of your garbage can.

Isn’t my coffee table gorgeous?

I keep this chair on my back porch.

I potted an aloe in a pretty dish I happened upon.

This antique wooden crate was a true find.

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