Monday, January 31, 2011

Dumpstering: It Starts at Home

Dumpster diving can be an adventurous way to save money. The potential dangers affiliated with dumpstering, like getting into trouble with law enforcement, or possibly getting hurt somehow while immersed waist-high in trash, qualify it as something on "edge," and, in certain circles, definitely something cool. As someone who's gotten his fair share of awesome stuff from dumpsters, I totally get that. But dumpstering shouldn't begin behind the grocery store or across town: it should start with your own garbage can.
That's right. Your own trash. (And recycling bin, if you have one.)

Aluminum cans can hold
household stuff, like
office supplies

No, digging around in your own garbage bag is not nearly as glamorous as hoisting yourself over the rail of a five foot tall dumpster, but you still may be surprised at what you find, and what could potentially save you some money. How? First of all, you aren't leaving your house, so you aren't spending money on gas or on a bus ticket. Secondly, a lot of things you might otherwise get rid of can be revived for a second or third use, which saves you from spending money on new stuff.

The way this works is easy. Let's say you realize that you need something. Before you run to the store to buy it - or to your local dumpster to mine for it - take a look in your garbage and recycle bins first. For instance, the other day, I thought to myself, "Gee, I could use a headboard for my bed." 
Instead of rushing out to buy something (or trying to dumpster dive for a headboard), I looked around my house for what I could use for free, and after a five minute search and a little bit of sweat, here's what I came up with:

I used two panels of a cardboard box with fabric stapled to them. Then I attached the panels to my bed using metal hangers, like so:

And there you have it - a headboard made completely of what could be thought of as trash, without even a dollar spent on a bus ticket to get to an economy-sized dumpster!

Just remember, one man's trash may be another man's treasure, but your own trash can be valuable to you too!

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