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Best thing you ever pulled from a dumpster or out of someone's garbage?

 
pollinator
Posts: 1808
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I hit pay dirt with a bunch of old metal roofing I got at our "dump" (actually it's a waste transfer station). It was in the metal recycling area and the county employee said I could take what I wanted. After hauling two pickup truck loads (there was more but I was too exhausted to go back for a third load), I had enough to roof a 10'x30' dog pen, 10'x30' chicken pen, 10'x16' rabbit pen, with plenty left over for future projects. The roofing wasn't in new condition, but it's usefulness will outlive me.
 
Posts: 12
Location: Texas
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forest garden books bee
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Around here, there really aren't any town dumps like many places have. There are a couple of sanitary landfills but you have to pay some seriously big bucks to dump in them, so people just don't.  I think that is why the 'end of the driveway' concept works so well.  I've never put out anything that didn't get taken within half a day. Even scrap metal goes pretty quick, as people sell it to the scrap yard.
 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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It's not always easy to get your spouse on side, if they are accustomed to buying everything new at the store. They may have been raised with a mindset that scrounging is only for poor, desperate people.

My wife is totally on board at least for now. She comes from the bottom 1% in a very poor country. She remembers when they got two metal spoons. Then when she was a little older they got a discarded metal cook pot. That and an old machete were the only things they had that were made of metal. They ate from discarded takeout containers and coconut shells.

So now, I show her on a daily basis, the massive amounts of free stuff that comes with my job and my natural nature. Last week I found a hand-built ceramic birdhouse and matching bird bath. Just for fun , I said I was going to sell it for $10. She asked me if I really needed $10 and I told her no. She wants me to keep it, which was my plan all along.

Nova wants to be in charge of selling found household items, while leaving the building materials to me. She's a really sharp dresser, almost exclusively from second-hand shops, where her average item of clothing is about $1.50. When she's wearing $5, she's really dressed up for an event. She's always been thrifty, out of absolute necessity. I hope that continues, even when we are rolling in money.
.......
I did my Christmas shopping this morning. I looked through my storage and found some nice kitchen items, pants that will fit my brothers, dish soap and laundry soap and a bunch of other things that I got for free. No one is expecting anything new from me, unless I give them a bar of soap that I made.

I'm going to put in a picture of my soap and one of Nova in a dress that cost $1.25
20181231_054244.jpg
Soap
Soap
IMG-20190913-WA0007.jpg
$1.25 for the dress
$1.25 for the dress
 
Dale Hodgins
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm not sure if this one counts. I pulled John Dorscheid out of a 40 yard container. He went in after something and then found he couldn't get out again. John was working for me. He had pulled a muscle in his shoulder and didn't think of that when he lowered himself into the bin for some scrap metal. When John was on , he was an awesome worker. When he would go on a Coke binge , I would want to throw him in the bin myself.
 
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6288
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Dale: if that counts, then mine probably does too: I pulled myself out of a dumpster when I couldn't get out. 2AM, in February, needed big boxes for a project, went to dumpster behind an appliance store, hopped in, threw out all the boxes I wanted... and realized I had thrown out everything I could climb out on. I'm 5 foot 2, and could barely reach the top. No one close enough for screaming, back in an alley behind a bunch of places that were closed, too cold to hang out and wait for help in the morning. I got out, but ripped a muscle in my hip doing so, limped badly for a couple of months. Since then I have not gotten in a dumpster anymore, I have gotten VERY good with hooked sticks and I carry a step stool in my vehicles. Will not get stuck again. That was SO bad.
 
Posts: 27
Location: Colorado Springs, Zone 4b
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The dive stick is definitely a good thing to have on hand. I frequently carry one in the back window of the sedan or the back of the pickup. Pickups are probably the best vehicle for diving. You can throw everything directly into the back, then drive off and sort it at your leisure with fewer witnesses casual bystanders.

It's also been fun turning other people on to diving. When I was dating my now-wife I mentioned "The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving" to her. Yes, this book exists. She immediately got a copy. She comes from a big family and likes food, so when it talked about how reliable bakeries were for throwing out everything at the end of the day she naturally had to find out for sure. She was hooked! About then her family went on the keto (sp?) diet and there was not a carb to be found by those who were less committed to the diet. So they begged her to dive them some bread. They have since converted one of their friends who has surpassed us all. At one point when his parents were away for a few days his suburbanite sister was afraid to eat anything out of the fridge because most of it was dived. I'm very proud of my part in all this. My in-laws now view diving as a recreational passtime. They'll be sitting around trying to figure out what they want to do and end up going diving.

That said, I tend to be after building materials, scrap metal, or useful stuff I can fix more than food. This past summer I dived 3 fans, which I fixed. Mostly my technique was to take them apart and put them back together again. One needed a fuse but the others started working for no apparent reason. A backpack and a piece of rolling luggage only needed a little sewing. A nice truck bed tool box only needed a little bending and adjusting the fit. If you can fix things there are all sorts of opportunities out there. Passing DD (Dumpster Dived) stuff on to people who will appreciate it is also lots of fun. I gave a sleeping bag to one person, a girls bike to some friends with a daughter, a first aid kit and an end table to a friend, and some stuff we gave to local thrift store because it was simple too good to throw away.

The free section on Craigslist is almost as good but doesn't have the same shock factor when I want to gross someone out....
 
Dale Hodgins
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One nice thing about using a pickup truck is that you can park close and stand on the side of the truck. This is much more stable than a step ladder and you can move along most of the length of the bin, without moving the truck.

Sometimes containers are used for shipping things and it is not garbage at all. I have posted signs when I'm using a container to ship recycled wood to a mill. When someone ignored that sign , I damaged the truck. My container was on private property and I didn't invite them there.

I've also had people bring me garbage. A couple times I've found the address in their garbage. Then it gets loaded up and dumped in their driveway.
 
pollinator
Posts: 128
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Got a pile of stuff from a cigar factory that was closing down, will find more pics tomorrow
IMG_20190616_222527100_HDR.jpg
Cigar boxes
Cigar boxes
 
Jay Mullaky
pollinator
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Few more bits I got from the cigar factory.

A few of the pallet protectors have stamps on them from West Germany so I'm assuming they were shipped before the wall came down.
IMG_20171115_185730160-1248x1664.jpg
For printing the logo on cigar boxes
For printing the logo on cigar boxes
1580318892075_1580318879977_IMG_20180108_084913775.jpg
Pallet protectors
Pallet protectors
IMG_20171110_110744544.jpg
Once you stack the pallet protectors
Once you stack the pallet protectors
IMG-20171110-WA0000.jpg
A trolley
A trolley
trolley-pallet-(2).jpg
Trolly
Trolly
1580318909914_IMG_20171115_185714154.jpg
cigar box label stamp
IMG_20171109_125022656.jpg
cart
IMG_20171116_192351076-2080x1560.jpg
label
IMG_20171112_162017227.jpg
I cleaned and varnished this trolley
I cleaned and varnished this trolley
IMG_20171116_192022241-2080x1560.jpg
cigar stamp
 
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: near Athens, GA
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I have found some good stuff... but a friend of mine managed a municipal dump site.... here are some of the things he found in just one year: a valuable antique banjo, a hand made early American chair, two valuable original paintings, cases of wine, cast iron pans and other antiques, valuable baseball cards, a coin collection, guns, boxes of ammunition, jewelry, antique books .... and 150 lbs of pot that someone likely disposed of before a raid... he retired soon after...
 
pollinator
Posts: 296
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Wj Carroll wrote:... he retired soon after...



Why would he leave such a sweet position?

Jay - those items are exceptional.  I'm wiping away my drool.
 
Wj Carroll
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: near Athens, GA
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Ruth Meyers wrote:

Wj Carroll wrote:... he retired soon after...



Why would he leave such a sweet position?

Jay - those items are exceptional.  I'm wiping away my drool.



Well, that actually had to do with a complaint someone made... he didn't want to put up with such crap anymore... and didn't have to.
 
master gardener
Posts: 3430
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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My most recent score is really quite boring, but surprisingly useful: They are 4 metal panels hooked together to form a square for holding things (so long as there's a floor in them which the scrap ones were missing). By using a series of tools, I was able to open up the hooks on one panel so that they could be stretched out into a line, hooked into a series to make a much larger contained area, and turned upside down, could keep bunnies at bay. I show below first approximately what they look like to start, and second how I hooked 3 units together, held it from toppling with a piece of bamboo, and used it to hold mulch and compost under my chicken perches. This particular chicken shelter is on enough of a slope, that the chickens kept kicking any mulch I added down the hill. Now it stays and builds up and hopefully will eventually make some decent compost.
Salvaged-metal-square.jpg
metal square
makeshift-fencing-under-the-chicken-perches-to-hold-mulch.jpg
chicken pen
 
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: South Carolina 8a
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No question, the most valuable thing I pick up from the "garbage," are the literal tons of free mulch people rake up and bag for me every fall. They even leave it on the curbside for me, for easy pickup!
 
gardener
Posts: 1757
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Jay,

Your cigar factory haul looks amazing.  I love old cigar boxes -- I use them for all kinds of purposes.  And that cart -- I love that.  Great grab.

m
 
Posts: 79
Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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When I lived in Montreal, there was a week or so at the beginning of July - where some mayor in the past had made it a rule that everyone should move on this day. In a city full of apartments, that makes for one big mess, and a load of opportunity for treasure hunters!

I would walk the blocks of my neighbourhood every evening around this time of year. My favourite finds were an 18” cast iron pan in fine shape, a large 8-person tent, and much of the furniture and books we still have years later!

Aside from the hellish “moving week” treasure hunting, one of my favourite dumpsters was at Canadian Tire. I found dozens of plants from the garden center - which just needed some love, a 2 pack of Coleman sleeping bags (which they had slashed with a box-cutter — an easy mend), and almost a whole roll of slightly tangled nylon rope — had to be 300 feet of it!

This is one thing I miss about living in Montreal. If you needed something, the city always produced!
 
Marco Banks
gardener
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We have close friends whose son and daughter-in-law moved to Montreal 3 years ago.  They described the moving day experience as chaos.  A fun kind of chaos, but crazy none-the-less.  If you own a truck, you are king of the universe for that weekend, as everyone wants to rent it.  People charge $400 or more to rent their truck for the day.

So what is the better use of a pickup: renting it and putting that cash in your pocket, or using it to drive around Montreal all day looking for treasures on the curbside?
 
Posts: 350
Location: London, UK
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Here, in London, fly-tipping is seen as a problem which (I guess) it mostly is - people dumping anything and everything illegally somewhere.  Since I'm into upcycling, I see these situations very differently i.e. favourably!  Ha!  They can be golden opportunities for rich pickings.

The reason for the increase in littering is that it used to be a free service provided by councils, not now....hence I can understand why some people (maybe more financially challenged) might add their stuff to an already established dump!  
 
gardener
Posts: 3197
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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A few hours ago I pulled off a sweet "heist".
I'm in Jersey,  visiting my sister,  who is sick.
I'm here to fix things,  and tonight I fixed her dryer.
I got the part from a similar dryer set out for garbage day.
One was gas,  the other electric, but the timer is identical.
I laughed like villain as I pushed the button and it roared to life.
She cried when I told her it was taken care of.
Getting a trustworthy repair made has proven close to impossible.
My sister is a Yale graduate and a respected academic.
I am often awestruck by her big brains, and it gave me great pleasure to be able to help her with a choice bit of rubbish and my workers hands.

I'm gonna check the laundry,  then off to bed.
Tomorrow I fix her shower.
It will probably require BUYING parts,  but oh well!
 
Jay Mullaky
pollinator
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Got a few hundred of these, every size imaginable, no idea what to do with them tho
IMG_20171107_224944565.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20171107_224944565.jpg]
IMG_20171107_224721756.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20171107_224721756.jpg]
 
pollinator
Posts: 158
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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William Bronson wrote:A few hours ago I pulled off a sweet "heist".
I'm in Jersey,  visiting my sister,  who is sick.
I'm here to fix things,  and tonight I fixed her dryer.
I got the part from a similar dryer set out for garbage day.
One was gas,  the other electric, but the timer is identical.
I laughed like villain as I pushed the button and it roared to life.
She cried when I told her it was taken care of.
Getting a trustworthy repair made has proven close to impossible.
My sister is a Yale graduate and a respected academic.
I am often awestruck by her big brains, and it gave me great pleasure to be able to help her with a choice bit of rubbish and my workers hands.

I'm gonna check the laundry,  then off to bed.
Tomorrow I fix her shower.
It will probably require BUYING parts,  but oh well!



Congrats!

Isn't it always good to know you got something done for WAY cheaper than making a call?
My wife tolerates me buying a tool when the cost of a tool is way less than calling a pro.
 
William Bronson
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Jay Mullaky wrote:Got a few hundred of these, every size imaginable, no idea what to do with them tho


Those look like high end bearings of some sort.
A machinist forum might be able to identify them.
EBay would probably the place to sell.
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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@Jay Mullaky - hubby says it is a constant velocity universal joint that is used in a front-wheel drive vehicle between the wheels and .... something to do with the engine (he went past my clear understanding at that point. We have a thread for things like this: https://permies.com/t/90251/ungarbage/game-Post-unknown-objects-ID  You post something obscure and see who can identify it.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6288
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Jay Mullaky wrote:Got a few hundred of these, every size imaginable, no idea what to do with them tho


If you decide to sell them, I might like to buy some. I think they can be of use in my world. Drop me a PM if you put them up for sale someplace.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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Jay Angler wrote:@Jay Mullaky - hubby says it is a constant velocity universal joint that is used in a front-wheel drive vehicle between the wheels and .... something to do with the engine (he went past my clear understanding at that point. We have a thread for things like this: https://permies.com/t/90251/ungarbage/game-Post-unknown-objects-ID  You post something obscure and see who can identify it.


I started the post unknown objects thread when I found something I couldn't identify in a dumpster. If you are a dumpster diver type, come over and play with us! No need to read the whole thread, go to the last page and see if there's anything interesting you can identify, and post your weird stuff, whether you know what it is or not, it's a fun game. We both try to figure out things no one knows, and try to figure out when the poster knows but thinks it's a hard thing to guess. It's a fun thread! Post us something odd you have found! First person to identify an item gets an apple!
:D
 
pollinator
Posts: 213
Location: Hamburg, Germany
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While I've never really seen a dumpster here in Germany (they must exist, but there's no room for them in my neighborhood), the sidewalk at the corner of my apartment building is a dump space.  (Please ignore the polite sign from the landlord asking people not to...)  Most of the time it's a bit annoying, but two cool things have popped up that I've been able to convince my BF to lug up 3 flights of stairs.  First, a 2-piece wicker piece of furniture - open shelves about 60 cm wide and deep and about 100 cm high, and an ornamental piece that sat on top.  My living room furniture is wicker, so eventually I'll paint it to match.  Right now it's just storage.  Second, a big metal display case for candy bars - labels still attached.  The tilted shelves are deep enough to hold books, so it holds (a sadly small part of) my unread books.  As space frees up (ha!) I may use it for read books, or get it to the Kleingarten somehow, or take it back downstairs to join the great circle of life.

For a few years I also volunteered at the Umsonstladen, a place to bring unwanted things and take what you needed for a small donation.  As volunteer I got first (discreet) pick, so I can't count the number of books/CDs/clothing I made off with.  I failed to nab the brand new Mandarina Duck rolling backpack and I'm still bitter.  Now I go once a week to deposit things and see what's there, but it's just not the same.

Also, a few streets in my neighborhood are closed as part of a pedestrian-only experiment, and someone has put up a little wooden shelter with shelves in a parking space, for people to give and take.  It is adorable!
 
Jay Mullaky
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Thank you for the info on the bearings.

I just had a look at them and Google tells me that the biggest ones I have are "SKF 11210 TN9 - DOUBLE ROW SELF-ALIGNING BALL BEARINGS WITH A WIDENED INNER RING"

https://www.klium.com/skf-11210-tn9-double-row-self-aligning-ball-bearings-with-a-widened-inner-ring-159228

From what I gather a factory closed and all their stock was shipped to the cigar factory for some reason.

I would definitely be interested in selling some bearings, tho I am in Ireland so might be awkward to post?
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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William Bronson wrote:

Tomorrow I fix her shower. It will probably require BUYING parts,  but oh well!

Hubby recently fixed our shower - it has the push/pull handle to control the water flow and it swivels to change the temperature, and the innerds had worn and were causing the shower head to drip. Hubby took everything apart and then called our local "Home Hardware" store to see if they had stock. He's on a first name basis with a number of the staff, and it paid off this time - when he got there the fellow said, "This should be under warranty - we have free warranty parts!" The shelf price was $40, so hubby was very happy.

Now if only he'd try to get warranty parts for our kitchen faucet - it's not dripping, but it no longer swivels and one of these days I'm worried it will break right off. It was a good quality one with a name and price to match, so I'm supremely unimpressed. We bought our bathroom faucets years ago from the same distributor, but different brand and they've given us no problems. I'm willing, and in fact prefer, to buy quality once and have it last.

Hmmm... maybe I need to post on the "what would Pearl do" thread and see if she could figure out how to make a kitchen tap that swivels and works well using one of Jay Mullaky's universal joints! It has to cope with *really* hard water too!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jay Mullaky wrote:

I would definitely be interested in selling some bearings, tho I am in Ireland so might be awkward to post?


Oooh, that might be awkward. I have never shipped outside the US/Canada area, I have no clue how weird it might be.

In that case,I'll tell you what i had in  mind for them, and maybe you or someone close to you would want to do it. I'm going to be wind power generating off homemade Savonius Rotors. Those bearings look like two of them per rotor would work wonderfully.  Like this:


 
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Oh man, i used to be a garbage man and let me tell you people throw away some good shit. Ive seen everything from boxes full of pornos to envelopes full of cash. If I had to say the best thing ive ever taken from the back of the garbage truck (aside from the cash) i'd have to say an old Crosley record player that worked like a charm, ive had it for years! But ive taken guitars, movies, furniture, antiques, you name it!
 
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i recently got a conga drum from a dumpster
it had a large crack up one side and another small crack
i used ratcheting load straps and some clamps and wood glue to fix it
woo hoo
 
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I found an Iphone 7:: unlocked in the dumpsters at my college. It was from a wealthy chinese student I believe because it was in Mandarin and an international phone. But it had a crack in the screen, I'd imagine their parents probably had enough money to just replace it. I can't imagine how often perfectly good phones are dumped-- it had a 400$ retail value when I found it. It was incredible. I have found some great pots as well
 
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I found a mid-century Danish chair by a famous designer whose name I can’t recall on garbage day in Montreal. After a little research I decided to put it on eBay... and it ended up selling for $1200 CAD.

So, whenever anyone asks me the most money I’ve ever found while out for a stroll I say $1200!
 
pollinator
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Found a small, slightly faded framed watercolor in the trash once. Upon closer examination I discovered it was by an artist-illustrator who died in 1933 and, this is the weird part, who we already had a painting by!
 
master gardener
Posts: 2100
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Over the years, I have collected 2 working air conditioners (18000 & 5000 btu). .... a minimum of 50 pallets in the past year alone ...and a number of tools.

 My best score was over 25 years ago when I cleaned out a house that a depression era couple had lived in. The arrangement with the heirs was that I could keep anything I could find.  The basement was packed floor to ceiling with magazines and books.  I had already tossed several bags of mags when I tossed one in the garbage can and a $20 bill floated out of it.  Yep, they didn't trust banks. There were envelopes taped behind drawers, in furnace vents, on the backside of ceiling tiles, in the pockets of clothes, and, of course, cash in between the pages of books and mags.  While I certainly did very well, to this day I wonder how much I missed.
 
pollinator
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I am definitely a proud scrounger! When I was growing up my family would go on vacation during the summer (usually to go camping and hiking). We had a competition while on vacation; best scrounged find! When I was really little it would be little souvenir type things: some wool from a sheep that got stuck to a fence, rocks or crystals, neat leaves, etc. It was always fun, and I still have a lot of the souvenirs. My parents would find newspapers or magazines from places we traveled, or things that other folks had left behind. Things they found on those vacations included some neat vintage metal light switch plates, a large metal milk canister, and lots of other pieces of old metal that became decorations in our house.
Bulk trash pickup day was treasure-hunt day! We’d drive around as a family and look through all the stuff that had been put out; lots of cool stuff!

My husband and I now both enjoy trash-surfing and dumpster diving! I’m currently sitting in my living room on a tossed-out couch, in front of me is a trash table, and our tv hutch is a giant armoire that someone tosses out. We’ve got lots of shelving that was saved from the dumpster at my hubby’s job, and most of our cat trees were saved from the bin. Our Christmas tree and our ornament storage boxes were out on the curb after a family moved out of their house a few years back. Also got some nice vintage outdoor lights from that haul too.

Most recently scrounged item is an espresso machine that someone dumped behind a restaurant near my husband’s work; he brought it home and I got it working after a few days of tinkering with it.

Now that I think about it more than half the furniture in our house is stuff that we rescued from the bin!
Laundry hampers, storage baskets, plastic tubs, planting supplies, even some nice tools! Lots of kitchen stuff....I really love going out to look for other people’s’ trash!
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Trash table and saved armoire
Trash table and saved armoire
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Hallway of saved cat trees
Hallway of saved cat trees
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Rescued and revitalized espresso machine
Rescued and revitalized espresso machine
 
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The presence of this thread makes me happy to be here.

Just off the top of my head, things we've picked from literal trash:

- A computer (needed a main board, but worth it)
- 8 aluminum chairs. Was going to scrap for the aluminum, but they were too nice, so I sold them on craigslist for $120
- A Dyson vacuum cleaner, nothing wrong with it other than being full of dog hair everywhere (... and they're designed to come apart for cleaning, easiest project ever!)
- A bookshelf, which became the package quarantine area in the workshop

My old work also had employees walk in via the loading dock, where they also kept the dumpster. This made for some interesting smells, but also for some interesting sights when they tried to discard several industrial-grade rolling racks and various useful pieces of equipment. Thankfully the guys whose job it was to throw things in the dumpster had learned that if they waited long enough, sometimes the heavy things they were supposed to move would magically disappear =)
 
John F Dean
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Numerous window air conditioners.  I have one in my barn that I am working on. A complete encyclopedia Britanica. The prize goes to my mother-in-law who kept my wife in designer suits by dumpster diving in the gold coast of a large yuppie community.
 
All that thinking. Doesn't it hurt? What do you think about this tiny ad?
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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