Looking in the Dumpster

Have you ever gone dumpster diving? Well, I have to admit that I can now scratch that off my imaginary bucket list. The family was gathered for the Sunday night ice cream social when one of my SIL mentioned that there was a dumpster parked on the driveway of the condo on the corner. You would have thought that they were kids hearing the faint sounds of the ice cream truck heading their way. People sat up straight, ears at attention, and then the discussion began. “Is there anyone home there?” There was a brief accounting of who lived there, when they died, what was being discarded. This was immediately followed by a ransacking the garage for flashlights and a group of us headed to the dumpster. Fortunately the end door was not latched which made it much easier for all of us old farts to get a look at what was being tossed. Basically whoever was doing the clean out was pitching everything. The salvaged items included: a hand crocheted lace round table cloth, 2 cloth aprons, a box (12″ x 12″) filled with all occasion greeting cards, a bag of cloth grocery bags, a pair of nearly brand new wool mittens, a desk lamp, 3 framed prints, 2 picture frames, a large metal mixing bowl (with rings on the sides for hanging), a cast iron skillet, an ironing board, 2 push brooms, a small case containing 45rpm records, and an arm full of sweaters, jackets, and blouses.

So I brought home the greeting cards and one picture frame. My MIL thought the table cloth would work on her kitchen table but it didn’t so she gave it to me… We later discussed the folly of just pitching the contents. One SIL’s mother was a hoarder and when she had to be moved into a rehab center (due to a fall and complicated by dementia) they had to sort the valuable from the junk. They found money hidden in all sorts of places – inside shoes, as book marks, in coat pockets, paper clipped to calendars, and stuffed in sugar bowls. Another SIL said that when she and her husband were sorting his mother’s estate they found stock certificates and bearer bonds in her piano bench interspersed with old sheet music! I went through the cards and only found 2 postage stamps. Still 2 Forever stamps are now worth a little over a dollar! Then about a week later Sparky and I were out for a little evening stroll. We passed the dumpster again. The previous load had been hauled away and new things were in the dumpster – a very nice sofa, a variety of sinks and counter tops, a couple of badly broken mirrors and medicine cabinets and some more clothes. Right on top was 2 large bottles of Gain laundry detergent. One was unopened. It saved me some money and kept that out of the landfill!

The saying is that one man’s trash is another’s treasure… So have you? Gone dumpster diving that is? Or trash picking? Or to rummage/garage sales? Please let me know I’m not the only one trying to keep things out of the landfill!

69 thoughts on “Looking in the Dumpster

    1. I guess that makes sense but it wasn’t a dumpster behind a business or a restaurant. This was a special open container that is used to contain construction debris and such. They are generally parked in the driveway or in the yard of a home…

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    1. That seems to be a thing for many people! We were helping with a church rummage sale and I was sorting men’s slacks – found a dime in one pair and a penny in another (I was hoping to find some serious cash but that didn’t happen)!

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  1. I have to admit I would be afraid of germs. What if someone had COVID? I am too busy getting rid of stuff the legal way, selling or giving away to a friend. We do curbs if we are allowed. Dumpster is kind of strange because you might find a body.

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    1. The coronavirus isn’t very stable outside the body and is spread by inhaling the virus in the air. Not really much danger in handling clothing or furniture! All the people who read the crime novels are overly concerned with finding bodies…

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      1. I would still think germs. Actually I watched a series about a woman finding a perfume bottle, spraying it on herself and it was full of poison. She died. Was it odd? Yeah, but the press has us believing strange things. There is still a lot we don’t know about viruses in general. Yeah, people who read crime novels, maybe for a reason…to stay safe…

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      2. I have to admit it is fun going to a thrift store but some of the people look like they might knock you over for a good buy! Sometimes you can have too many things. I might have met some hoarders….in thrift shops.

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        1. That must be the area you live in. Here it is regular folks trying to stretch their hard earned money. I know a couple hoarders and they look like regular people. I don’t think I’d recognize one as being “different”. Now the antique dealers and the folks that buy to sell on line are recognizable by their attitudes (but not appearances).

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          1. I think hoarders are mainstream. We live in a very varied area Tampa Bay-wealthy, middle class, poor, working class. Very diverse. We have some excellent thrift shops. I was making a joke! Sometimes it does get competitive.

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        1. They’ve realized here. Sure it is nice to be prudent, but the masks are the important thing – and just washing your hands. It would be more likely to pick up fleas than coronavirus!

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  2. I had the unfortunate task of hiring a company to clear daughter’s house after I tried to find important things. I did haul a bunch of stuff home for our shed to be put out for Disabled Vets later. I could not get in the kitchen safely to find any cook ware or dishes. Same with the office. It has caused me so much pain to know good things were trashed, but at 81 with a bad back I just couldn’t keep trying to salvage any more.

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    1. I’m so sorry Bonnie that you had to try to deal with that mess. Too bad that one of the thrift organizations – like Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul, couldn’t come in and take whatever they wanted…

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  3. Before Covid I went to a lot of garage sales. Now I’ve started going again, but at this point in my life I don’t need more stuff. When we first came home from Africa we needed everything, so we went to a lot of auctions. We live right near a college now, and when the students leave for the summer there’s a lot of good stuff in the dumpsters. My friend’s sons brought home a beta fish still in it’s fish bowl with water in it!

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    1. Yeah, when the students would move out they would just dump everything! I’m not surprised they got a fish still in the bowl! I’ve seen pet rabbits released that had to be rescued… You can really get good stuff at the end of a semester on a college campus!

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  4. An iron skillet??? Good grief. Even if you are clearing the place as fast as possible, that would still be worth the time to save.
    That condo sounds like great place to grab some useful things, and donate other things.
    & now I’m wanting to see if garage sales in poor rural MS are worth doing. 😉

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  5. You’re a woman after my own heart. I’ve been known to drag an ironing board home that I found on the trail, thinking I could re-home it. After it sat next to the backyard shed for several months, I had to admit defeat and dismantle it for the trash bin.

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    1. Hehe! We have picked up things – Sparky in particular has a strange affinity for stepstools. Currently we have 2 in the basement and 2 in the garage and one in the kitchen. All needed minor repair that he was able to do. Then there was the one that looked nice but had major damage. That one went back on the curb for trash pickup but before the garbage truck came it was gone….

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    1. Decluttering seems to be in the air – a friend was just saying that her house was getting cluttered – mostly because no one was coming over so it didn’t seem to be a priority…

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  6. Yes, well, the apartment complex threw away a bathroom mirror that was quite large. I took it. Now I can see if I have dirt or stains on my clothes. As far as finding valuable things, my great-great-grandpa lived during the depression and was a bootlegger. No one else valued his collection of glass dogs and other trinkets. They didn’t ask me anything about it ever. I was in the army when he died, but I bet the people who got his stuff sang! He didn’t trust banks and hid money in odd places, never telling anyone. I saw it and picked up figurines and such when I messed with them. Another time, my mom threw all of her classes’ dissected cats into a dumpster at the college. She threw in her keys, too. She told me she couldn’t crawl in, and I was small then, so she helped me get into the dumpster with the dead cats, and I found the keys. Luckily, they were in bags. It was still depressing. I love cats.

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    1. Yes, there are many older people who seem to think that hiding money and valuables in places and things in the house is safer… My grandfather was in the army in WWII and carved a set of hound dogs from scrap wood. They were a gift to my grandmother. When he died my cousin was able to get them before the children of his second wife made off with them… Unfortunately many of his more valuable items “disappeared” and we can only assume that they were taken to be sold for $$.

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      1. My grandma grew up poor and hoards possessions. I don’t see that much modern value to them. There are some collectors. My generation will probably not care as much about that stuff. We have so much fake decor that does the job. She is giving me some heavy bookcases that I’ll appreciate. My grandma used to talk to me for hours about her collections and asked me what I wanted. I’ve made requests, but on the day she dies, I will simply tell them to sell them. I’ll only go through the books. She went through a couple of months of anxiety where she wouldn’t stop talking about her future plans. I was worried that she might be fearing death, that it’s coming closer to her. She’s back to normal now. Well, normal for her. I love her so much. She’s always done great things for me. She is starting to become more and more childish, and I worry about her safety with a few other relatives.

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          1. yeah, she does. She would walk off with my dad. I told the home not to let him, but since I have schizophrenia, we all know they won’t listen. He was always her favorite child. She does become annoyed when he calls her in the middle of the night to ramble drunk and not.

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              1. People will believe he’s there to save the day. He’ll be the hero. At the lake, he made me wade through water with water moccasins in it, a type of snake. He wouldn’t save me. He becomes a coward at about anything but has rights while I don’t. He can sue people! That made it so that my grandpa wouldn’t fix my teeth growing up. Thanks, dad. Meanwhile, my step dad immediately ran to fight a pack of our dogs who went bad and attacked my sister and started to fight them off. He doesn’t say it a million times like my dad will about imaginary things. He’s totally insane. Sorry, had to get that out.

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          2. She won’t help my dad with money or anything, but if she thinks she can help him, she’ll leave with him. She already tried to get me to go. Unfortunately, I’m on aid essentially, and my dad can call me spoiled and greedy and lazy, the last is a bit true, and they will believe him over me — as usual. Her other son won’t do it because he hates my dad and doesn’t want to fight with him. I hope they listen to me. It’s unlikely that he will go to her first. It’ll be me first. To straighten things out and get me the help that I need. The irony of that…

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  7. I HAVE gone through the dumpster, not for the reasons that you have spoken about here, but because of necessity. In April I lost my bag of medicines. All the bottles with the 90 day supply of all my medications. I had always since 2017, kept it in the same spot in my den. The bag never moved from its place. Every Sunday I would take it to the breakfast table, and fill the weekly dispenser for the morning and evening pills. And suddenly it just walked away. I was desperate. Looked into every room and every trash can, emptying the contents out on a news paper. I finally went into the garage and emptied the dumpster. The one only time I ever did that; with gloves on, I went through every thing to see if my bag of medications was there. Well it was not.
    The pharmacist was extremely kind to give me ten days of freebies till I found the missing bag. I never did find my bag of medicines. I had to get every single medication refilled for 90 days. I have no idea where and how that bag could have vanished like that. I am sure it is at home somewhere. Just don’t know where though.

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    1. Aggh! That is awful!! I lost my car keys at a restaurant. I think I left them on the tray and they got tossed. I was with my mother and we had to call a friend to come get us. I had to leave my car at the restaurant. It was a Sat. and the car dealership was going to get me a new key on Monday morning! Sunday there was a knock on the door and one of the guys from the restaurant had dropped the keys off at the house – he had gone through all the trash and found the keys!! I had a happy ending. So sorry you didn’t find you medications. I hope they turn up eventually…

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  8. I’ve gone dumpster diving a few times when my children were little. I remember living in an apartment complex just outside of town and we had our own dumpster. When I went to take out my trash one day, I found a bag full of nice clothes and some still had the tags on them! I dove right in there and fished through all the clothes. They were boys’ clothes and they were name brands, Valerie. I couldn’t believe anyone would throw that away. I also found a beautiful snow globe and grabbed it too. When I brought the armload of clothes home, I washed them, then had my sons try them on and they fit perfectly! Talk about a blessing from God!

    You’d be surprised at the treasures you find in a dumpster!

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    1. There are so many treasures! I do believe!! Sometimes you find what you need as if it is a gift – possibly those guardian angels heard the wish from your heart!! As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”!

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  9. wow what a treasure … never seen ppl here throw useable stuff! That usually goes to op shops but never in a dumpster near me 🙂

    Have searched bins at the back of stores when I needed boxes, now I pick them up at Bunnings. Garage sales and markets are my favourites 🙂

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        1. The electrical items are checked and verified prior to purchase and we check them too. So my fingers are crossed. And I did get the email! I’ll think on it and update you before Tuesday!

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                    1. You are very welcome! It did take my mind off a few worries and was fun too! Perhaps it was the meditation walk through but i felt better afterwards!

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  10. When I inherited my PILs’ house here in Prescott, (albeit only for three years before the greed of their native NJ led to its being sold in advance of Pop’s death), I found substantial cash left, proud as you please, in a bedroom drawer and a wealth of household goods-in a house which they never again intended to visit. I still have some of the furniture. To date, though, no dumpster has seen my shadow. All of Mom’s stuff, when she moved in May, was hauled off by a contracted service.

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  11. Nothing like this happened but yes we do have a land here where people sell there things and the good ones are sold.
    This is an interesting one.

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