I know. Another post about garbage. I need to get my mind out of the trash heap. Still, if you share my interest in garbage, I must recommend reading about our garbage debacle in Italy, not to mention what we did about the horrifying garbage problem in Tunisia.
The only time I’ve ever been bona fide dumpster diving was at married student housing in Provo, Utah during graduation week, when most of our neighbors were moving on to real jobs, and we were newlyweds gearing up for another year of starving studenthood. Among other things, I scored a functional microwave, some hair-cutting supplies, and a pair of shiny jet-black vinyl pants (pictured below, modeled by me on our first Valentine’s Day).
Oh, and there was that other time when Tony went dumpster diving the week we moved out. But that was just for our apartment key that we had to turn in when we left or get charged the dismaying sum of $25. He got all the way to the bottom of a full, disgusting dumpster, with no luck. I found out how much he truly loved me the following week when I found it in my shorts’ pocket, and he forgave me.
Since that time, dumpster diving has largely been replaced by more palatable ways of receiving other people’s cast-offs, like my sister-in-law’s many boxes of children’s clothes, or the giveaway table at Church. There’s also the Orlando Freecycle group, to which I belong, but it involves a lot of planning ahead and driving around to pick things up, so mostly I just watch my inbox fill up with all of the interesting things other people are passing along to each other.
Fortunately, here there’s a second option for less organized people like me. In all the other places we’ve lived (at least in the U.S.), on garbage day everything had to be tidily placed in a city-issued garbage can with the lid securely shut. Here in Florida, though, apparently anything goes when it comes to garbage. You can put it in any sort of can you like, or in cardboard boxes, or just in a neat (or messy) pile in front of your driveway. If there’s a limit to the amount of garbage each week, it must be a very generous one, since I regularly see people with several full cans out front. And if an individual piece of garbage is too big to fit in a can, you just leave it on the sidewalk next to your can(s), and the garbage workers obligingly take everything away. Unless somebody else gets it first.
Going out on garbage day is sort of like going garage-saling, except it’s free. I don’t officially go out to look for garbage, but I always keep my eyes peeled for neglected treasures. Unfortunately, our finds up till now have been rather disappointing. Usually, even if that chest of drawers looks awesome from my car, once I get up close I find it’s missing a drawer, or awfully wobbly, or “distressed” far beyond even shabby chic.
In fact, the only thing I actually remember bringing home previously is a red plastic shovel that the kids use at the beach. And we were almost too embarrassed to snag it, because its former owners were standing outside their house, and let’s face it, it’s just socially awkward to take stuff out of someone’s garbage can right in front of the person. It’s kind of like a bizarre cross between furtive stealing and abject begging. In the end, the red plastic shovel ended up being not worth the awkwardness, but by then it was too late, so we kept it anyway.
Today, though, we struck the motherlode. Just look what we came home with:
Not one, but two nice terrariums, both in excellent condition, with secure screen-covers. Every homeschool room should have one. Nope, we don’t have any pets (other than Axa’s betta fish, who already has his own residence), but now we’ll be ready the next time someone’s mouse has babies, or we’re unexpectedly given a turtle. What we’d really love, though, is a hedgehog, free to good home. Let me know if you can hook us up.
For those of you who also engage in this dubious activity, what’s your most awesome dumpster diving experience?