Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Art of Dumpster Diving

I began thinking about the glories of dumpstering when I read my friend Valerie's recent post. It's pretty hilarious that when people have junk to get rid of they think of us. You know, most people might be offended, but I'm flattered. My husband and I are pretty economical (a smarter sounding version of "thrifty"). We love a good sale and love free stuff even more.

Now, don't think just because we like free stuff, we have a house overflowing with junk. Granted, we do have some items we don't need, and are working on diminishing that pile, but doesn't everyone? Be assured, we don't live in one of those houses you see on Dr. Phil's that has newspapers from 2 decades ago and a back-yard full of non-working appliances.

I didn't used to have this affinity for finding good deals and appreciating free stuff.

In fact, the first trip James and I made to the grocery store ended with us putting the food back and leaving in a storm of miscommunication and misunderstanding. You see, I come from a background of:
"give freely to others, money is no object" and "usually brand names are better than generic."
James comes from a background of:
"definitely buy generic, no matter what" and "only use half of a dryer sheet per load of laundry"

I think that both schools of thought are valid and have their benefits. That's why I'm glad James and I are together: we can foster our positive traits in each other, while tempering our out of control traits.

The first time I visited James' apartment, he and his friends pointed out all of the items they had acquired while dumpster diving. I have to admit, I was intrigued, but also grossed out. I mean, who would want to actually get in a dumpster??? I soon found out, that most of the time you don't have to get inside the dumpster, a lot of times the treasure is sitting right next to it!

My favorite kind of dumpster dive is the kind you can give away. Don't worry, we won't dumpster something and wrap it up nicely for your birthday. Anything that is dumpstered and given away, is fully disclosed as a dumpstered item. It's great when we've found something that someone else needed, and we could never afford to buy it for them, but we sure could give it to them since we found it for free! (Hope you like your table and chairs "friend who just moved"*!)

The other great aspect of dumpstering is making a profit off of free things. For example: we found a dresser on the side of road with a "free" sign on it, add a fresh coat of white paint, shiny spray-painted brass handles, and you've got yourself a $60 sale off of Craig's List. Can't beat that. I could name quite a few items like that.

So bring on the free stuff. If we can't use it, we'll give it to someone who can, or sell it to someone who's dying to have it.

*Name removed in case friend prefers not to reveal himself as owner of a dumpstered item.

p.s. James and I are now able to go to the grocery store together and have a very enjoyable time.


Anonymous said...

Its hard to be a Murphy with a spouse who doesnt have the neccessity for dumpster diving/"thriftiness" ingrained in their heads...marriage would be so much easier if non-Murphy spouses would come home in excitement over the ten new picture frames, charcoal grill, books, vases, brand new ikea tables with the tags still on from the crazy rich people in california...instead of with a oh lord what are we going to do with this "crap" look on their face...i only hope that one day my non-Murphy will have such understanding as you do now.the only reason huge apartment complexes are good is because people are always moving in and out. its like U of R all year!

Fetch said...

I do love my "new" table and chairs. I like them even more knowing they were originally sitting next to a dumpster. You guys rock!

andi said...

In college my roommate and I found this cute upholstered chair on the sidewalk in our neighborhood, and at that point our apartment had zero furniture except beds and desks, so we took it home. Then, because we had found it on the street, we had this crazy idea that the chair must be gross, so we covered it with a red sheet, which looked stupid the entire time we had it. When we moved away we gave the chair to some other girls, and later I was visiting them and saw our cute upholstered and perfectly clean/not smelly chair without the stupid sheet, and it made me sad that we discriminated against it just because we found it on the sidewalk.

Jennifer said...

Leah, we missed UofR this year! bummer. I can imagine the frustration you feel when finding a wonderful treasure, just to be faced with disdain. Maybe he and James should have a talk, hopefully increasing his appreciation for the art we love.

Jennifer said...

Andi, you are such a good storyteller, I can totally picture the chair in all of its locations. I can understand your thinking that the chair may have been gross, I feel the same way about dumpstered furniture. That's why we only accept upholstered items from friends. But, if I found something super cute, I just might call Stanley Steamer to remove the grossness and invite the item into my home.