Why do people throw away … ?

I got home from curb shopping last night and my roommate’s friend asked what the best thing was that I ever found in the trash.

This is a popular question for non-trash-pickers to ask trash-pickers, but it is unanswerable. It’s like asking, “What’s the best thing you ever bought at the grocery store?” or “Which day in the 1990s had the nicest weather?” I have found tens of thousands of things in the trash, rescued thousands of them, and kept hundreds of them. Among my possessions, I don’t make a daily distinction between what I found in the trash, what someone gave me, and what I bought. If you ask me where I got something, I can probably tell you, but I don’t think about it otherwise. And so if you ask me to make an instant judgment about the best thing I ever found in the trash, I can’t. I’d need to inventory my house first and then also remember the things I’ve found but didn’t keep or no longer have – for example, the three $20 bills wadded up in the pocket of a pair of hot pink shorts in 2000.

This week is for curb shopping like the day after Thanksgiving is for actual shopping. Most of the rental contracts let up this weekend, so people are starting to go through their stuff and decide what not to move. For some reason, a lot of them never seem to have heard of food pantries or St. Vinny’s – they just throw everything in the dumpster.

So I came home last night with:

  • A new lamp for my living room to replace the one with the broken shade
  • 8 cans of pineapple
  • 8 cans of green beans
  • 3 cans of chicken broth
  • a can of fruit cocktail
  • A can of Progresso chicken soup
  • Three small boxes of unopened raisin bran
  • a box of granola bars
  • Enough skin lotion to keep my epidermis hydrated into the beginning of winter, if not longer
  • Paperclips galore! (I really needed some, but hadn’t bought any because I knew there would be plenty to choose from this week.)
  • A huge bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 pounds of sugar (guess I’ll have to make elderberry wine again this year, as I don’t think it would be all that good for my health to go through that much sugar in baking for myself)
  • Three shopping bags of clothes (which I will wash and try on and then decide what to keep)
  • An antique cabinet door with a very nice geometric wood inlay – I will probably use it to build a Frankenstein cabinet this winter
  • and other stuff

Note that most of the stuff is consumables. I am still averse to clutter. And if I should decide to keep any of the clothes, then stuff that is now in my closet will have to move out. Which is just fine, because a lot of the clothes I found are more flattering than a lot of what I currently have.

What I listed above, by the way, is not all of what I gathered. I was team-shopping with Dekalb, and we went to his house to divvy up the loot before I came home. He was the beneficiary of my big food score last night. In one dumpster, I found two garbage bags full of nothing but unopened baking mixes and pantry foods. Most of it was loaded with sugar, which he eats proudly, so he got struesel mix, sugar cookie mix, brownie mix, spice cake mix, and boxes and boxes of who knows what else. He rejected the muffin, flan, tiramisu and pancake mixes, so those will go to the food pantry. We also found lots of school supplies for the classroom of Companion, who is a teacher. (Yes, Tea Partiers, that’s where the classroom supplies come from thanks to your budget prowess.) And several boxes of clothes and stuff to donate to St. Vinny’s.

Alas, no pictures to accompany this blog entry. But did you really want to stare at a bunch of canned pineapple?


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