Dump picking, or rather freecycling

Garden Girlie posted recently about a freecycled shelving unit she found and will be using in her garden to start seeds, etc. Whilst driving somewhere with her hubby, she pulled over to collect it, plucking it from the very jaws of dumpsterdom, and is giving it a new lease on life. I love that.

Dan and I have a long history of freecycling, to use a more PC term. Back in the day, we’d call it dump picking, but the dump days are over, and recycling center picking just doesn’t have that ring of authenticity. Semantics aside, we have a long and storied history of screeching to a halt to collect one man’s trash and put it to good use. Our garden sink, for example. Our magnificent seed-starting cart, rescued from a grocery store dumpster by my gallant and thrifty spouse, the wire garden fencing rescued from the scrap-metal pile. Then there are the fabulous antique side windows Dan found by the side of the road, and the cement mixer (not free but darn close).

I’ve written about this before, but now I’m wondering: How many others are there like me, unafraid to screech to a roadside halt and turn trash into treasure?

9 Responses to “Dump picking, or rather freecycling”

  1. fastgrowtheweeds.com Says:

    Oh, you are so not alone. I have to contain my husband’s enthusiasm for curbside snatching: I now make him photograph his finds with his cellphone and show it to me before I allow him to bring it home.

    I should talk, though. I have more or less carried wheelbarrowloads of crud off of a neighboring abandoned farm. Recycling, you know!

  2. seasonseatingsfarm Says:

    I scored apple trays at Hannaford Saturday! I love bagged OPL – other people’s leaves – from the side of the road. I’m still kicking myself for not being on the ball and asking for the shelving unit the Irving in Harrington was moving outside two weeks ago. I won’t make that mistake again!

  3. Ayse Says:

    I’ve been known to pick a thing or two up from the curb, but mostly we leave stuff out there and hope it goes away (we’ve gotten rid of two terrible toilets that way!). For more directly useful stuff I have been known to lean on our local Freecycle mailing list.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    The traditional husband and I have always done this. When we lived in NYC it was v. common and known as dumpster diving or trash picking. When we moved to DC and needed more furniture, my kids would say, “hey, let’s go trash picking in the alleys.” The new neighbors were shocked!!! But we have gotten some excellent chairs (including ones from the fancy Design within Reach catalogue this way), an armoire (we repainted it but otherwise it was perfect), a rocker, bookcases etc.

    Now our neighbors do it too!

  5. sugarcreekstuff Says:

    I have too many curbside treasures to count. Some are my sons desk, many chairs, kids bikes, 5 dresser drawers stacked and screwed together then painted to make a pretty book shelf, an old swing set that i used the frame and scrounged fencing to make a predator proof chicken run. My husbands and I start humming the Sanford and Son theme song when we score!

  6. sugarcreekstuff Says:

    Ooops, I only have 1 husband.

  7. Sugarcamp Says:


  8. Ali Says:

    El, I like the camera phone idea, very clever.

    Robin, Hannaford is an excellent source of good recycle-able stuff. The stainless steel roof of Henbogle Coop came from Hannaford. As for the OPLs, I love Meg’s and Kelly’s chicken composter idea, we may have to try that next year at Henbogle.

    Ayse, good of you to mention the curbside removal aspect. We rid ourselves of a lot of junk that way, too. The junk lawn mower that came with the house, ugly furniture, etc. Here in rural Maine our Freecycle mailing list has yet to meet critical mass, but I’m working on it!

    Sugarcreek, I was wondering about the multiple husbands! I’d love to see a photo of the dresser-drawer bookshelf!

    I love these stories!

  9. Laura Says:

    We’ve never had enough space to be curbside collectors, but I can see how it would be addictive.

    I’m in love with your garden sink and shall now have to find one to create my own!

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