Dumpster Treasures

People produce a whole lot of garbage. An insane amount, actually, to the extent that there are hills and mountains around the world made entirely of garbage. Dumpsters and landfills are packed with wrappers, broken things and foodstuffs, as well as diapers, feminine products, and cans. In addition to all the nonsense in the trash, there is a whole bunch of perfectly usable and salvageable things that end up in the trash each day.
People buy things then decide they don't like them, purchase things and then realize they don't fit, or toss things out, not caring that they still have further use.
People like myself who like free things, with the added benefit of preventing things from heading into landfills, like to do what is colloquially called "dumpster diving", but which I prefer to call treasure hunting. One man's trash is truly another man's treasure, and I and my husband have found a great many things either by the curb, near a dumpster, or occasionally in the dumpster that we were either able to use as is, use after a bit of loving, or repurpose into another worthwhile item.

My Recent Find

On Thursday when I was walking home from the park, I spotted 3 terrific items inside the dumpster- 3 things I had been keeping an eye out for. My container garden needs more space, but I don't like the prices of the planters being sold.

When I saw 3 huge buckets with covers in there I knew I had to grab them out, and that is what I did. To my amazement, these buckets were partially filled with perfectly usable paint, joint compound, and wall filler putty. Double treasure. I'll be using that paint to cover up streaks and marks and scribbles my kids managed to get on the wall and that putty for filling in anything that needs filling. I may not end up using the buckets for planting (I need to find out about the safety ramifications because of what was stored in there previously), but covered spill proof buckets are definitely a boon, no matter what they end up being used for. Especially when they're free.

Best Dumpster Finds

We've gotten so many great things that otherwise would have ended up being landfill material. I thought I'd share a partial list of the dumpster finds we have in our house now, the ones that get the most use.

We have two identical wash basins. These are so multifunctional and in perfect condition that I never understood why they were thrown out in the first place. I use these to take laundry from our machine to the clothesline outside to hang up, to put the dry laundry inside until it is sorted, as a bathtub for my kids (I put the kids each in one basin inside the big tub- they love it and splash around and it uses less water than filling the big tub), as a mini swimming pool on hot days (in the living room/kitchen, and then we use the water that splashes out to mop the floor), and on a rare occasion when I need a huge mixing bowl (like when I made all the pitas and tortillas for the recent birthday bash, these get thoroughly cleaned and used.

This dish rack is another dumpster find, also in perfect condition. With our minimal kitchen space, this is especially helpful to us as its double decker aspect makes it be able to dry more dishes in less space- a boon for tiny homes! We still haven't been able to figure out why it was thrown out!

This vegetable rack, also in perfect condition, is a kitchen accessory I absolutely love. I feel it has such charm as well as functionality. This is yet another item that I cannot figure out why it was thrown out.

We also have a 4 door low wooden cupboard that we brought in from the trash. This is very useful for us, as we have no built in store space in our apartment. This wasn't in perfect condition, but its useful to use nonetheless.

Last on our list of very useful dumpster treasures is a mattress for our bedroom. We got a (free) new bedroom set from a couple divorcing to replace our old and ugly one we got free when we first married, but the mattresses from the old bed set didn't fit the new one perfectly, so this find (found by my mom) was so beneficial to us. It is a high quality mattress and fits beautifully! (And in terms of the "gross factor", we're not concerned as we cover our mattresses with sheets.)

So there you have it- some terrific dumpster treasures that we found and saved ourselves a lot of money in doing so. If we would have needed to buy everything new, we would have had to spend hundreds of dollars to get these things. Instead, we had the privilege of saving something from landfills and being able to turn someone else's trash into our very much loved and appreciated treasures!

What dumpster treasures do you have in your house right now? What are your thoughts on dumpster diving?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. What great finds! There is a thrill to finding useful free things that exceeds that of buying things for me.Free piles (and a free store!)are common in my area and many of our things come from them. Just yesterday I picked up a gray sweater we are going to remodel with tin cans, into the chain mail my older daughter's been wanting for the dress up box. I also found some old china and antique bottles that will go into my Etsy shop, and a copy of 'Stocking Up", a book I have been wanting. Dumpster diving been part of what has made it possible for us to live so frugally and on so little.

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