Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dumpster Diving

Someone in my family, who shall remain nameless, is an inveterate scrounger, junk saver, and, yes, even dumpster dives. We live out in the country with a long, lumpy gravel driveway. We don't have a regular garbage pick-up. Seriously, who wants to get up at the crack of dawn, in the dark, and haul heavy trash cans down a long driveway to await collection, and then drag them all the way back up the hill? (p.s. I know we could do it the afternoon before, psheesh...)
So we have exactly the number of thirty-gallon garbage cans (10) that will fit into our blue Ford Econoline van that we continue to own for one purpose and one purpose alone; to haul the garbage to the dump every five or six months. This system works really well with one exception. Mick (my husband, oops, I told) always finds lots of great stuff to bring back from the dump. Actually, I do approve of this. Escape from affluenza!

Speaking of affluenza, remember 'reduce, re-use, recycle'? Now there is another earth-friendly 'r' word; re-purpose. Here is a very fine example of what the word means:

“We realized that there was an excess of this used material being added to landfill and that we could repurpose the material into beautiful and unique bags,” says Eric Groff, national sales manager, Bags and Packs for Keen, in a company press release. “Since it was used to carry heavy bags of rice the material is extremely durable and perfect for everyday use.”

Hurray for sustainable products and the companies that make them!

Mick once found a very sturdy wooden clothes horse that is now in constant use by our wood stove (or outside in the summer) drying clothes from the washer. We almost never use our dryer anymore.

But the really best thing he ever brought back is this simple, cleverly designed red plywood child's chair: Isn't it ingenious? We liked it so much that I made one out of clay. I love the crusty, lichen-like glaze. (click on the photo to see how yummy it is) Mine is more sculptural than functional (for a child anyway; it's incredibly heavy). I use it as a stand for flowers in a vase, but I'm pretty sure Mick is planning on nabbing it for the garden. Here are a couple of cat dolls from my collection, sitting in a chair on a chair: The maker of these dolls, who lives in Seattle Washington, travels regularly to Japan where she collects fabric, ribbon, feathers, and other small items with which to detail the dolls. Each doll is utterly unique. The dolls have eight or nine different fabrics, including silk, embroidered weaving, and Japanese ikat. I bought these so many years ago that I have forgotten the name of the person who makes them (it's on the tip of my tongue...). I bought them from Twist, but they don't carry them anymore. But I'll bet if you called them, Lauren would remember.


  1. Someone said the comments weren't working. This is a test.

  2. First time to your blog and I find a topic I can really relate to. I love to find junque, but just don't usually do it at the dump here in Portland. Every summer though, during our visit to family on Cape Cod, I make sure never to miss the weekly trip to the dump. In addition to the piles of trash and piles of old appliances and twisted metal scrap, the Eastham dump has set up a "Second Hand" store. Volunteers stock the store with the best of used goods coming from "customers" to the dump and then other "customers" (me!) come and take things away free! I always find something cool that I can use or recycle into some new purpose somehow. It's a great way to keep things out of the dump and great for those of us who find character and utility in others' cast-away objects.

    Here in Portland, I like to go to ReStore which collects and resells salvaged building and household items…sort of like Home Depot, but used and cheap, cheap, cheap…plus, it benefits Habitat for Humanity. Also, I like The ReBuilding Center which benefits United Villages and has the region’s largest inventory of quality, used building materials. Last week, I bought two used real wood drawers from an old kitchen installation ($3 each), plus two ceramic drawer knobs ($0.50 each) and 1,000 molded knob backings ($6 for all) of which I have painted 14 for decorations for the front of the white drawers. These drawers will then be set on cement bricks ($.25 each), filled with potting soil and will be planted with strawberry plants and lettuces for my deck. Fun! Now I just have to figure out another great art project for the 986 remaining cabinet knob backings that I have left! Any ideas?

  3. I can't picture what a cabinet knob backing looks like. I wish you could post pictures in the comments! We could get a real discussion going here.


I love comments.