Friday, October 10, 2008


How do you feel about dumpster divers?

Do you:
a) think rifling through other people's rubbish is disgusting?
b) have a grudging respect, but still think they're just opportunistic scroungers?
c) feel the real crime is the amount of perfectly good stuff people chuck out to end up in landfill and see this as commendable recycling/reusing?
d) Oi! Hands off! I saw that first!

I confess here, without a twinge of shame, I'm a well-seasoned collector of other people's 'junk'. It seems to me that people often throw away superior items and substitute new poor quality tat that won't last 5 minutes.

Let me take you on a tour of our home.

In the kitchen we have a lovely solid wood shelf unit dumped on the street - perfect for clearing bits and pieces from the work surface.

Moving through to the living room, in the corner there is the beautiful fully-functioning floor lamp I picked up from next to the bins (with plug still attached).
See that stainless steel unit with the videos on?
That was an old display rack abandoned outside a refitted shop.
And that wrought iron circular table with the matching candelabra - both of those were left by the side of the road.
Different roads, different days.

Out in the hall, you'll no doubt admire the 4' long wavy mirror left out by the bins, still in its original wrapping.
You probably won't even notice that the end has snapped off as it's a clean break and looks as though it's meant to be like that.

Ah, the boys' room.
Regular treasure trove here.
I pushed that large office spinny-chair through the streets late at night after a writers' group.
Someone had left it out next to their bin. Not a mark on it.
Over there are the 2 badminton racquets abandoned, complete with protective covers, by our bin shed.
And that fabulous chest of drawers - solid wood, none of your flatpack shite - was left in our basement with a sign saying it was up for grabs.

In our bedroom, I know that huge mirror is cracked, but just look at the gorgeous Gothic frame it's in.
And what shall I put in that heavy wooden frame I found earlier this week?

Once in Brighton, J told me there had been a short power cut and the local supermarket had dumped the entire contents of their chiller cabinets.
We filled every bag we could find and distributed enough cheese to all our friends to last a month.
And, no, none of us got sick.

I don't go looking for this stuff.
I just walk a lot and have my eyes open.
And in case you're worried, the boys aren't in the slightest embarrassed.
In fact they're proud.
'Hey! Look what mum's found today!'

So ... what do you think? Am I disgusting ...?


Single Mother on the Verge said...

I do the same thing. So far in the last 3 weeks I have collected, a chest of drawers, spare drawers, a TV video player, and a desk.

I wanted to go for an office chair but my son wouldn't have it.
Our old house was full of other people's junk. It's not disgusting. It is sensible.
Trouble is, nothing ever seems to match...

Debi said...

Hi SMOTV - lovely to see you here. Good job we don't patrol the same streets so there's no unseemly fights over who saw what first!

As for matching - wildly over-rated IMO.

Sharon J said...

Disgusting? Absolutely not! This is recycling as far as I'm concerned.

My house has some stuff in it that I've found too but people round here don't tend to leave stuff on the streets the way they do in London.

Unknown said...

Not digusting - just resourceful. One person's detritus is another's treasure!

I've done it myself, and regularly buy second hand furniture from the charity shops. I think it comes from my mother being into antiques: I prefer things to be worn and used.

Debi said...

Sharon - yes, I'm sure the throwaway culture is more prevalent in big cities. Still, their loss is my gain.

Babs - that's it! Old stuff has character whereas the new tat ... I can imagine someone 'upgrading' their beautiful article to the latest flimsy synthetic crap.

Unknown said...

Recycled stuff 'feels' nicer and there is nothing like the joy of transforming a 'skipped' item and restoring its beauty.
I just wish some people would chuck away working white goods - I need a tumble drier!

Debi said...

No you don't Minx. They use masses of energy ...
*ducks to avoid well aimed pointy-heeled boot*

Anonymous said...

No. You are absolutely brilliant. I have loads of found things as well... including a coffee table, a bed and a sall bookcase... and a mirror ..

Debi said...

I'm brilliant, Muts? Can you tell from there? (Think you're brilliant too BTW.)

A 'sall bookcase' ... is that a typo for small? Or tall? Or silly?

And what is it about mirrors, do you think ...?

Jan said...

Yours, DEbi, sounds like a lovely house...
one I bet your family call "HOME"!

Anonymous said...

I think it's absolutely great. To be honest I think the people who leave it out would be glad that it's being used.

When we moved in to our house we had some curtains given us and they were real 70's style, anyway when we replaced them I gave them to a friend's student daughter and they did the lounge up 1970's style. Which proves someone's unwants is always someones wants.

Single mother I like unmatched stuff - don't like matched items. Think unmatched is great, quirky and interesting - have been doing myself for years.

Unknown said...

No, not at all disgusting, very smart, I'd say. I have a friend who picked up a complete and really nice lounge suite from the dump. I'm just appalled at what people through away. Here, nothing goes to waste - there are so many needy people and anyone will take anything away so the "recycling" system works really well!

Hope the writing is going well!

Anonymous said...

A real pleasure I enjoy is, at the end of sales is looking at towels, pillowcases when they're in a box dusty, odds and bods and getting them mega cheap. All they need is a bit of soak and thy're good as new - loads of people turn their noses up at that. But I'm the one with plenty of great towels ha, ha.

Jannie Funster said...

I already have too much stuff but...

We pretty-much framed a house addition ("extension" for all ye fair Brits and Aussies,) from thrown-away lumber that someone was either too lazy or too rich, (or stupid,) (or all three,) to take the nails out of.

Leave it up to my clever hubby!

And yes, totally recycling if you get stuff you can use.

Debi said...

Yerk - what happened to the comment I left earlier??? D'you reckon it's been recycled? It was wonderful - full of wit and wisdom and containing personalised replies to all the above.

Sorry, folks, hopefully it's found a useful life elsewhere rather than ending up in virtual landfill. *sniff*

Anonymous said...

Trollin' while strolling...
highly underrated.

Pants said...

Hi Debi

There was a time when most of my household items came off the street. I have a friend who makes a living rifling through skips in the leafy streets of Islington. Among her finds have been Clarice Clift pottery, an original mini Moog synthesiser and William Morris wallpaper. E-Bay was just made for this sort of enterprise.



Debi said...

Leslie - I'm a troll, foll de roll ...

That's so pants - welcome! Ebay - now that's what I call initiative. Alternatively there's freecycle

Ladybird World Mother said...

Show me a person who can walk straight past a skip without checking it out... its just not possible. I reckon there are the walkers by who look without turning their heads... then there are the 'turn head and look but do not touch'. Then there is the turn head, look, check no one is looking and start digging', and lastly the 'turn head, look hard, start digging and dont stop till you find something'.
I'm the third one.
Bad news is I am right in middle of skips unless I order one. Not quite the same really.

Debi said...

Hi and welcome, Labybird World Mum. Another diver comes out of the closet.
(You know, the one we found abandoned in the skip.)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I'm in the country too so I'm a 'c', when I was in the city I would have been a 'd'. I'm so much in the country we don't even have freecycle. When I was in the city, in pre-Internet days, there was a recognised spot on our street where people would leave household goods they didn't want for other people to help themselves. Great idea and it worked really well. I'd be a freegan if I could.

sexy said...
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Anonymous said...

Sexy is right as usual...

Debi said...

Mutley - do you know something about that spammer that you should be sharing?

日月神教-向左使 said...
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