Dumpster Diving

Dumpster Diving

I put my trash to the end of my driveway like everyone else. I do this Monday afternoon to be picked up Tuesday. You need to know this information and my feelings about trash to bring this story to fruition.

My feelings about waste and wants:

1. I think we (the people) generate too much waste. (Have you noticed that animals don’t waste things, except my Yorkie - Tiki who loved unrolling toilet paper and dragging it through the house and shredding it and expecting us to use it after? I’m making that last part up.)

2. If I want something new for my house, I give auditions to “used” stuff first. (Yes, the prettiest, curviest, and oldest will probably get the job.  Imagine that--reversed ageism.)

3. I don’t want to fill up the landfill with my stuff…if someone else can give my discarded—new life.  I’m for that. (Paint, glue, or hugs and kisses—I don’t care.)

Remember the rickety chairs from my dining room that I replaced? Last week, I put them alongside my trashcan, displayed in quite a lovely manner--secretly hoping someone (in the darkness of night or boldness of day) would rescue them.  This has happened before, my trash disappearing (not trashy trash) from the roadside before the morning light. This makes me happy and probably weird.  I don’t want things going to the dump if someone can use them. But, these were scary chairs and I didn’t want to give them to someone voluntarily.

The next morning they were still at the end of my driveway.

At fifteen to eight, I was out the door going to work and noticed a nice red pickup truck stopped in the middle of the road (yes that’s how we park here). With hands in his pockets, he circled the chairs multiple times. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I ignored him until I pulled to the end of my driveway. It was then I decided to have a conversation with him so he could stop circling. 

“Are you getting rid of these?” he said. “I didn’t want to just take them.”

I put my "duh" look back in my attitude arsenal and said, "You’re welcome to them, but they’re rickety. I couldn’t get them glued properly but you might be able to."

He gave me a pity look, you know--poor little woman who can’t glue a chair properly and must throw them away. I opened my mouth to start singing Helen Reddy’s (and my theme) song, I am woman hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore… but decided against it.

He still had his hands in his pockets when he said, “My wife passed by and phoned me to stop and look at them.”

I wanted to say, "Do you always jump when your wife speaks?" but instead I said again, “You’re welcome to them.”

He thanked me. I nodded (and thanked him in my mind for relieving my guilt feelings of dumping perfectly good broken down chairs at the end of my driveway).

Three observations:

1. Is it still called dumpster diving when the trash receptacle is 4 foot by maybe 2 foot and the trash is alongside it?

2. I love the word rickety.

3. And I really need to get to know my neighbors. However, I've only lived here 33 years. I have time.

What's happening at The Ruralhood?  Small Community Interest

Come on admit it, have you ever picked up someones trash and made it your treasure?  What was it? I picked up an old table from my neighbor's trash, but I called first and ask. I hope that counts.

Photo Source here


  1. I hate to waste. I try to fill up my trash cans as little as possible and usually don't have to put them out except for once every two or three weeks.
    I have given away a lot of stuff, but usually I like to get stuff that's new. I don't recall ever picking over someones trash. On a few occasions I've gotten stuff at yard sales or second hand stores.
    These days I'm trying to get rid of stuff more than accumulate new stuff. Now my wife is a different story.....

    Tossing It Out

  2. You tell a great story! We've done something similar here, but no one seems to want our old things! I guess because by the time we're actually getting rid of them, they really ARE falling apart. :)

  3. Love your story, Teresa!! We put things out on our curb too, and I always like it when someone can "rescue" it! :-)

  4. I love repurposed items. It is such fun to look at any piece and say, how could I use this?

    Many people do that here, set things beside their trash in hopes someone else can use it.

    Wonderful story.

  5. You bring a smile to my face reading your story. It reminds me of a section on a decorating show. The guy goes out looking for items people have discarded and then turns them into something else very useful and quick decorative. I hate to throw anything away and when I do it's usually beyond being used for anything.

    Thoughts in Progress

  6. I can't think of anything that I've "salvaged," but I do have a story about my high chair. I was done with it. The boys were big by now, and I looked at the high chair. I never liked it. The tray slanted forward, so the glasses slid to the front. It had some weird greasy stains on it from being in the garage. I couldn't donate it, and who would want it on a garage sale? So, as I was carrying it to the end of my driveway, my neighbor's mother, who was visiting, stopped me and asked if I was getting rid of the chair. I said yes and pointed out its flaws. She said it would be great to have on hand for the grandkids/great grandkids.

  7. I love the word rickety, too. We also put things alongside the trash. Sometimes they're taken and sometimes not. When they're not, I always think people wonder how we lived with whatever it was. On another note, several years ago, long before identity theft became a problem, someone stole our trashcan full of trash.

  8. Totally still called dumpster diving. I'm not sure I've ever taken anything out of the trash. Something about that is just gross to me.

  9. I love the word rickety too!

    I'm paranoid about waste as well. I try to recycle everything.

  10. What a good ending!

    We are pretty tight with our money, so something as to be broken before we throw it out. Otherwise, we try to sell things on Craigslist first.

  11. Hi Teresa .. I too hate 'rubbish' waste .. and if I have anything - it gets taken to a fete, charity shop, or to the local dump - where people can pick it up .. I don't leave it in the street - but I would if my house was your house!

    Hope they were delighted with the chairs .. he obviously (he thinks) can repair them!!

    Rickety .. is a wonderful twitchy adjective!

    Good for you .. Hilary

  12. Oh, Teresa-you and I are EXACTLY on the same page here. I live in a community though, NOTORIOUS for leaving stuff next to the trash. My husband keeps threatening to disown me because I find things I think should come to MY house with some regularity (though about 5 years ago I finally conceded that I probably only should take things I can use at WORK (I have some dishes and such)--MOSTLY though, this is how I get my reading materials... books books books...

  13. What a wonderful story. So, did he take the chairs?

    This is the ultimate in recycling, right? I have not stopped and picked up stuff like that, but I love antique store and garage sales - pretty close I think. Not quite free but definitely giving old things a loving home.

  14. I too hate to waste. I just put any piece of furniture in my front yard near the gravel road and put 'free' on it....usually disappears quickly.

    I pass on books and magazines to friends and family, plastic bags to the health food store, clothes to the crises center. Newspapers get used under my mulch in my flower gardens to save moisture and detour weeks. Sorry...got a little carried away here.

    God bless ya 'Woman', I could almost hear ya roar!!!!

    Have a super day sweetie!!!


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