Saturday, May 8, 2010

yes, i totally need that broken coffee maker

it's that time of year again. the school year is winding down and im itchy for summer to start (or just itching because the humidity, pollen and mold are way up). that means it's college graduation time! the time of year when hordes of late teen/early twenty-somethings with more money than sense realise 9 months worth of college life is not going to fit in the back of mom and dad's sedan, or pick-up truck or the minivan. so it all goes into huge dumpsters.

there are only a few places i allow myself to really splurge. one is the library, the others are thrift town during their super earth day week-long specials and Town Talk, a super cheap deep discount grocer. Truly, it is the grocery store equivalent of diving. my favourite splurge place happens to be private college dumpsters. a good friend and i spent a truly lovely (thank you weather for co-operating) friday night knee-deep "turning your trash gold." among some of the better things we found were:
  • a working floor lamp
  • those really popular polka dot wellies in friend's size (i have been blessed with an unpopular shoe size so i almost always have to pay full retail for my footwear)
  • various appliances that, if they dont work, will be perfect for the little people to take apart
  • a huge CD collection - someone must have done college radio
  • a neoprene laptop cozy and *crosses fingers* a working cordless laptop mouse
  • sheets, blankets, egg crate foam bed pads, etc.
  • other random stuff that kids go batshit over like silly string and mardi gras beads
  • there would have been more stuff if some jerks hadnt gone through our hard earned separated treasure while we were getting the van

so here's my little ode to and why you should go dumpster diving.

It's fun! - really, it is. besides the joy of finding something really valuable - like a 50dollar modular cube shelf unit - or something you really need - like laundry detergent - you do get to eavesdrop on people's lives. ive discovered college kids really like easy mac, capri suns, and throwing away entire garbage bags of clean, folded clothes. they also lose a lot of shoes as evident by the multitude of single shoes found.

This is the cleanest trash I've ever seen - Yes, you will come across a used condom or two, a jock strap and used paper towels, but this isnt lunch room trash. most of it is, like i said, is whatever crap was left in the dorm room during finals week and could not fit in the car. there will be food and cleaning supply murm on your hands but it's easily remedied by baby wipes and hand sanitiser. hell, you could even wear work gloves if you're that squidged out by touching weird things. sturdy shoes and jeans will keep any goo,and glass, from touching your lower body as you wade through the gold mine.

If they didnt want it, why should I? - some colleges have partnered with aid organisations to get students to donate unwanted things before they head to the dumpster, but there will always be those that are too busy or just want to go home and say Ef' it. here's a short list of common items found in the dumpsters and what you can do with them. Of course, any items in decent shape you find can be donated - like towels, clothes, appliances, housewares, shoes, etc.

  • shower caddies - i picked up several of these last year. they usually have crud on them from being used to hold toiletries but a little elbow grease and a trip through the dishwasher and they come out fine. they make great holders for paint and arts supplies, gardening tools, and cleaning supply buckets.
  • notebooks, hand outs and worksheets - rip out the used pages and there will probably still be tons of usable sheets of lined paper. one-sided printouts can be flipped over and used as printer or scrap paper, especially if, like me you print out a lot of recipes, coupons or print-outs for the kiddos.
  • box tops, soup labels and pull tabs - again, because this garbage is fairly clean, it is easy to get into real trash without getting that dirty. many schools or charitable organisations collect box tops, soup labels or the pull tabs from aluminum cans. they can make an otherwise underwhelming bag worthwhile.
  • recyclables in general - recycling cans or shampoo and laundry bottles would be a worthy cause if you reach an already well picked over dumpster.
  • food - the trash in the dumpster is likely to be only a week old and not have moldering foodstuffs. it will probably have single serving chips, granola bars, or other shelf stable things. as long as the package is relatively clean and unopened, it's safe in my book.
  • shoe boxes and magazine - the boxes are good for storage and the magazines are good for crafts if not for their content.
  • textbooks - chances are, if a book is in the dumpster, it have very little resale value. you know, they changed the caption of the picture on page 375 (not like you even got that far)so they need a new addition and that $80 book is now worth a buck o' five. donate it to an adult literacy or prison book program.

Are you sold? I hope so. You've got another week or two before you have to wait another year. Wear solid shoes and pants. Put your hair up and out of your face. Have a backpack with baby wipes and hand sanitizers and large garbage bags. Make sure your keys and other important things are secured - you wanna be looking for good stuff not your keys. wheeled hand carts or wagons are handy if you cant pull the car up next to the dumpster, but they're not necessary.

Now get diving.

1 comment:

Patt said...

you should send this one somewhere and where - seriously!!!