Another Man’s Trash

Hey, Sara here! Rini has let me take over today’s blog post.

Five years ago I told my sister I found a birthday present for her in the trash. She responded as many would, with concern and confusion. Upon receiving it she was pleasantly surprised.

When people hear ‘trash picks’ it brings to mind someone digging through smelly bags of garbage full of leftovers and dirty diapers. The reality is that many people put things out on trash night in boxes that are meant to be taken. It was in such a box that I found the unique gift of an old National Geographic from the month and year of my sister’s birthday.

The saying is true – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It is amazing what you can find if you walk around on trash night in your city. That magazine is just one of many cool items I’ve saved from a landfill over the years. Below is a picture of a section of my living room in which all of the items shown are trash picks. Each tells its own story.

The chest of drawers was a find from my days living in West Philly near the University of Pennsylvania. College neighborhoods are great spots to find stuff on trash night thanks to the transient nature of the area. June and late August to early September are the best times due to students moving in and out.

The chair and lamp are picks close to home, just a few blocks away from us in South Philly. These are from houses that were being emptied out in a situation that is familiar in our area, where an elderly person has passed away and their home is being gutted and remodeled. It’s sad but also beautiful in a way. Sunrise, sunset. Their items are being passed on for future use instead of rotting away for eons in a mountain of rubbish.

Trash picking is one of the best ways to go zero-waste shopping! You are reusing instead of buying new. You are saving something from the trash.

The art piece is an interesting one. We found it after attending a Zipcar birthday party. I know that sounds a bit lame but it was two hours of free open bar with snacks! I’ll happily be in marketing photos for that, and I do love car sharing so I’m happy to help them out. After one too many free drinks we were stumbling towards the subway and found it on the curb. We liked it and decided to carry it home with us. A street musician struck up a conversation with us about it as we waited for our train, then played us some of his music as we rode home.

That’s the beauty of trash picks. You don’t always know what you’ll find but it’s always interesting and a one-of-a-kind experience. Trash picking is one of the best ways to go zero-waste shopping! You are reusing instead of buying new. You are saving something from the trash. It also satisfies the shopping itch that some people have for the thrill of the hunt and a bargain. There’s no better bargain than free.

What are your thoughts? What interesting items have you trash picked? Share in the comments below and on social media @greenthinkerdc (Facebook and Twitter) with the hashtags #Trash2Treasure and #GTDC.  

Be sure to register for GreenThinkerDC’s upcoming class on June 27th: “Deprogramming and Rethinking Plastic” at Knowledge Commons DC. Registration for this class opens at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 June. For this and other events check out our EVENTS page for more information.

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