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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love, Crafts, and the Fine Art of Dumpster Diving

Two days ago, I noticed a big red Dumpster behind our apartment complex. It looked to be empty.

That's interesting, I thought.

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were walking Jax when I noticed the Dumpster had been filled to the brim. Looks to me like the apartment management evicted someone, sending their furniture packing as well. A red sofa extended above pieces of wood, paper, and articles you'd have to examine closely to identify.

That made me sad. Once upon a time, a bank threatened to evict my mother, my sisters, and me. I don't think that any of us will ever forget that bleak period in our lives.

Then it made me wonder. Was there any good that could come out of this ugly situation? While I was pondering this, thinking deep thoughts, David and Jax kept walking. "Honey?" called my husband. "Come on. Leave it alone."

He knows me too well.

Because by then, I'd decided to investigate. I climbed up on the ledge surrounding the big red trash container. I'm short so I couldn't look deep inside, but I did see a piece of board sticking out. A big piece of wood.



Big enough to serve as a base for my dollhouse and the potting shed.

Big enough and sturdy enough that I wouldn't have to go to Home Depot and buy a piece of plywood and pay for them to cut it to size.

Big and free.

Even freer after I tugged it out.

David, I must confess, was mortified. He started walking in the other direction with body language that clearly stated, "I don't know that woman!"

I tugged and tugged. I had to reach in and move a couple of other boards around. Luckily for me, I've kept up with my tetanus shots, because that big piece of wood had nails sticking out. But once I began to extricate it (classy word for trash-picking, eh?), I was determined that it would be MINE.

David didn't offer to help. Instead, he said, "Oh, honey..." in that tone of voice that means, "I love you, but right now, I would cheerfully pretend we aren't married."

So I dragged it home. I do mean drag, because it's heavy. I put it in the spare bedroom. I waited until today when David's at work. I hauled it out. Knocked down the nails. Pried off a half dozen small squares of excess wood that served as braces. Put it up on our kitchen island. And started making plans. BIG plans for my dollhouse.



The way I see it, I saved something from the landfill, I saved money, and I'm moving ahead with my crafts. Next time I walk past that Dumpster, I might just vault over the side and poke around a little more.

Have you ever been Dumpster Diving?

23 comments:

Marianne B in AZ said...

I have never been dumpster diving, but the mental picture I have of you is wonderful!

Joanna Slan said...

Marianne, I'm so glad. The important thing, dah-link, is to hold your head up high as you pick through the trash!

Carrie P said...

I have, Once when I was younger, early teens, a friend and I dove like crazy a car dealership was throwing away all kinds of stationary supplies. We scored, binders, paper, pens and desk stuff. It was great. And yes I am tempted still every time I see a dumpster with one of those open windows to peek inside. You never know!

Velvet625 said...

LOL have never done it but have watched tv shows about people who do. I too love the mental picture mostly of your husband trying to become invisible. He needs a t-shirt that says, "I am with the dog I don't know who she is".

Suzy said...

Many years ago, I was volunteering to help set up a recycling centre, we used to drive around factory units asking for left overs of all kinds of stuff, end rolls of carpet, paper, material, large pieces of card etc, on one occasion we were told, 'just jump in the skip, what you find you may keep'. We did and many groups using the centre benefitted. Luckily, there wasn't anything dirty or scary in it. It was fun but not sure I would get in the skip these days. :)

Joanna Slan said...

Carrie, can you believe the waste? I bet you got a lot of great use out of all that stuff.

Joanna Slan said...

Velvet625, hmmm. His birthday is coming up. Maybe a tee-shirt that says what you propose?

Joanna Slan said...

Suzy, as long as you don't stick your fingers in your mouth immediately after, what's the big whoop? Germs help us build our immune systems. Meanwhile, why do people toss useful stuff? Why not call Oxfam or Goodwill?

Rosa St.Claire said...

Reading this brought me fond memories. I went dumpster diving several times, to search for different items assumed lost, and once when I saw discarded articles at a department store dumpster, full to capacity. The first time was because someone accidentally (or maliciously, lol) threw some of my dollhouse dolls in the trash. It was a mother and the two sisters, and the wooden bench they sat on. I never found them. One of the other times, was when I used to take nice leisurely walks on Miracle Mile after dinner. My husband would drop us off, or sometimes join us. We noticed a department store dumpster contained all sorts of new items. It was perfectly legal to get it, since it had been thrown away. I was with my semi-youngest, and a security guard kept shooing us away. After much back and forth, we decided to just walk away and stay hidden within the shadows. We watched as the security guard made a signal to someone in a car. The driver got out of the car and proceeded to start grabbing the stuff and shoveling into a big trash bag. My kid sneezed, giving us away, and I have never seen anyone take off faster in a car. The security guard flashed his flashlight on us. He started screaming for us to leave till my husband drove up. Then he apologized profusely, saying the merchandise was going to some children's charity. Yeah, right. Apparently, they were stealing merchandise this way. The following day, I went to one of the managers in the store and told him the whole incident. They never called me back, so I assumed they took care of the problem, if it there was one.
Joanna, your dollhouse posts have inspired me to create dollhouse pieces. Your creations are beautiful and very imaginative.

Dawn S. said...

I have never actually been dumpster diving but I have taken things that people have put out at the curb for trash! I think it's a great way to keep things from the landfill and get a great deal at the same time.

Joanna Slan said...

Rosa, I LOVE that story. Yup, when I worked in retail, selling clothes, I learned that bagging stuff, taking it out in the trash, picking it up later, was a very common way of thieving. Hadn't thought about that in years. How can I encourage you with your dollhouse? LMK, okay?

Joanna Slan said...

Dawn, I always worry that they didn't put it out to be taken! I'm too shy to go and knock on the door, so I've missed out on some good stuff.

DogsMom said...

Not only do I dumpster dive, I have converted friends.

There are best times of the month and best times of the year to dive where I live.

It is a fine art, not just a trashy hobby.

Joanna Slan said...

Dish, girlfriend! Does it vary by location, that is, are some Dumpsters better on some days than others? Or is there a universal good dump-day? And what's the best time of year? Wouldn't this make a fun mystery series? A Dumpster Diver?

Sharon D said...

I've never been dumpster diving; but I did pick up a bookcase that was being thrown out with the curbside trash. And, I phoned my brother to come over to our block and get a kitchen table that was been thrown out. He used it for the base of his son's train set.

susan beamon said...

When I was younger, I used to dumpster dive regularly. I furnished my first apartment that way. I have found, cleaned and used chairs, a kitchen table, a fancy drop-leaf table, rugs, sheets, blankets, pots, pans, dishes and books. The neighborhood I lived in had lots of apartment buildings and lots of dumpsters. So many that some people earned money by fishing out and cleaning stuff they would sell.

Michelle said...

My husband wouldn't have been as supportive. :-P

When my oldest was a baby, we were walking down to the library and I saw a metal chair in a dumpster. (Think the curvy metal kind from an ice cream parlor.) There was no seat, but the frame was good.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to manage a stroller and a metal chair for four blocks?

Kimmy Mac said...

I've never been dumpster diving but I have been the crazy lady on the side of the road picking up something a family set out for the trash man. I'm also an avid thrift store shopper - last weekend I got 2 suits, a skirt and a blazer for $7.37. not free, but darn near. (and one of the suits was Jones New York!)

Anonymous said...

Just happen across your site and had to share, coming home today right across the street had a huge pile of trash and this big wood mini house about 1980s style I saw it an told my husband I want that for me and the baby since she been bugging for a doll house anyway. I can really fix that up to its glory days. I never before took stuff out of trash or off the curb, and it was not bad at all, will keep doing it, had so much fun dusting that house off today out on the street side not caring about who is looking, just thinking to myself you will look beautiful again when I am done with you. Now I am tons of sites to find parts and stuff to go inside. Great great

Joanna Slan said...

Sharon D, I can't imagine any good reason for tossing a bookshelf. I mean, really? Can we talk?

Joanna Slan said...

Susan B, I think that would be a neat challenge--to furnish an entire apartment with cast-offs.

Joanna Slan said...

Michelle, I always think of that little ant who carried away the rubber tree!

Joanna Slan said...

Anonymous, there are GREAT links to dollhouse tutorials on Pinterest. You're going to have a blast!!!!