Monday, June 30, 2014

Donation & trepidation

Yesterday I brought a bunch of stuff to the second hand store. They weren't open so I had to leave everything by their front doors. There is a roof over everything so it will all be safe in case it rains.

 I did a quick little run last night that didn't produce much. I only managed to pick up a small flat screen computer monitor that I'll also bring to the second hand store on my next drop off.

I also spotted this awesome old pram. I didn't pick it up because I have no room for it, but I sure hope someone else will.

There was another pile that looked promising in front of some condos, but as I drove by to look, I noticed a few people on their balconies watching me. I got a little self conscious and decided to bail. I hate that there is still a stigma attached to garbage picking, that it is considered dirty and/or gross, or that people will think that about me. :(

Christmas in June

The big July 1st moving day is coming up for the province of Quebec, so a town about 10 minutes away, where there are a lot of renters, decided to add one more "large object" trash day to their schedule.

Usually they have it on the 1st Friday of the month, but for June they added another one on the last Friday as well. I guess they want to make sure they get all the stuff from the people that were going to move out this weekend, and then get the stuff leftover after people leave on Tuesday.

This town uses one of those garbage trucks with an robotic arm that takes your bin and empties it out  in the top of the truck. This means they don't take anything that is not in the bin as there are no garbage men to grab bags. Everything is automated.

I never go there unless it is large object day and it always pays off for me. The town is so horribly wasteful. There are 2 large donation bins right on the main road, and 2 more right in the grocery store parking lot. I mean if I can haul this stuff back home to my house, how come they can't take it to a bin a few minutes away? Do they never drive on the main road or go to the grocery store? Heck, you can even leave your things on the church steps and it will go to their second hand store in the basement. Tsk tsk.

Anyways, here you can see a few things I managed to save from the landfill on Thursday night...

The first thing I grabbed was this mirror. I spotted the frame under a pile of plywood. Unfortunately when I lifted the plywood off, I saw that the mirror was broken and the frame was cracked. I'll take out the mirror, repair the frame, paint it white and sell it. There are tonnes of ideas for old mirror frames on Pinterest.

 Next up were 2 piles almost right next to each other on the same street. One was throwing out mostly crappy furniture, but I did manage to take their Christmas tree which was neatly boxed up. I opened it up at home and set it up on my porch to make sure it was in good shape and to see how tall it was. It seems to be a 6 footer.

There were still some lights wrapped up in the tree as well. Here is my cat Gracie, who refused to move when I plugged the lights in to test them. Yup, everything works.

On to the pile next door where there was coincidentally...another Christmas tree! This time it was just a little mini one, but it was still in the original box unopened. The box was a little wet from being on the groud, so I took the tree out and also put it on my porch to air it out. I added a little sparkly garland I had laying around just for kicks.

This pile also had a box on the ground filled with boys clothes. I threw them all in my washer so they'd be ready for the second hand store. Coincidentally, they were all my son's size, but he has enough clothes. I only kept a pair of grey jogging pants because my kids can blow the knees out of a pair of pants in about 2 seconds flat it seems. In with the box were 2 soapbox derby medals as well.

The next stop was one that had produced for me before, and sure enough, there sat a pair of hockey skate style roller blades, and an expandable fold up dolly. The dolly was a little stiff, but a few sprays of Jig a Loo fixed that right up. My husband was thrilled with that find as he's wanted a dolly for awhile, and the skates will go to the second hand store.

The next score made me yell "Sweeeet! Check out this awesome vintage play desk just sitting there! I used to play on one of those as a kid! I usually don't take curb pictures, but this time I quickly got out my phone to document it.

It was a bit dusty, but it cleaned up very well. It's in excellent condition for it's age. Since I played on one of these as a kid, my guesstimate is that it is from the late 60's- early 70's. This one is definitely one of my favourite finds. 

 Another spot had me find this funky little round table. It's only 9.5" tall and 21.5" wide. Being pretty short, I'm not sure it was used as an end table, but I'm not sure what else it could be used for. The underside shows that it is made of solid wood and has some good sturdy legs and fixtures on it. Not some crappy modern day piece off furniture! On it is a nice candle holder that was also curbed at the next spot I hit.

Along with the candle holder, at the next stop was also this dress still zipped up in the garment bag laying right on top of the garbage pile. There were other things in the pile as well, but it looks like carelessness had broken them. There were half empty cleaning products as well, but I don't take those kinds of things. The dress is really light and has a great flowy material. It kind of reminds me of a dress in the movie Dirty Dancing. I don't like the sleeves, but I'm sure someone with sewing experience could turn this into something really lovely.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The bag of irony

It rained all of Tuesday which made for a bit of a soggy Wednesday morning run. I picked up 2 old posts that were sticking straight up and out of someones bin. At first glance I thought they were table legs, but they have fancy ends that aren't meant to be on a floor, and they screw into something, so my best guess is that they must be bed posts. They do need a little TLC, one has a crack in the top so it will need a little wood glue and a clamp, and the paint stain is peeling off in some places, so a paint job is in order as well. Once fixed, I'll list them for sale.

I also found these antique venetian shutters. One of the pair is in a bit of rough shape, the wood cracked where a hinge was screwed in, and one of the sticks to move the shutters up and down is missing. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest for reusing old shutters, so I'm pretty sure I could sell these to someone who has the time to do something with them. This idea is my favourite, but I just don't have the time or the room for it.

I rescued this shabby looking plant from someone's junk pile as well. It was really heavy, and once I got home I found out why...the previous owner had put it in a pot without any drainage holes. Because of the rain the night before, the dirt was totally water logged. If the previous owner kept watering it without letting any excess water drain through, it's no wonder the poor thing was dying. I tipped it on it's side in my yard and the water came pouring out. Thank god it didn't tip over in my car! I trimmed off the dead and dying leaves, punched some holes in the bottom of the pot and placed it in the sun on my porch. We'll see if it bounces back by the end of the summer. I'll let you know how it goes :)

My next spot was at a house that had produced for me before, so I got out of the car and took a peek in their bags. One contained a bunch of broken wood and old peeled off linoleum flooring. I guess they are doing some renovations. I left that bag for the garbage men. In the other bag I could see Halloween decorations, so I grabbed it and threw it into my car.

Sure enough, they were throwing out more perfectly good usable things this week. Here you can see how I divided up the stuff that came out of the bag...recycling on the left (some boxing and paper), actual junk in the middle (some rusty metal rods and some leaf litter) and the usable stuff on the right, which turned out to be one of those garden stake halloween decorations that makes it look like the witch crashed into your lawn, a glow in the dark tombstone, a small christmas gift bag, 2 heavy duty extension cords, and a cordless phone. My husband wants to keep the extension cords, and the rest will go to the second hand store.

My last stop will leave me thinking about it for a long while. What caught my eye down the road was a huge dresser. I stopped to take a look at it, and it must have been really gorgeous in it's day. I would guess that it was from at least the 1950's. Some of the decorative veneer wood on the outside was peeled off and missing, but it was well made of solid wood. It had 5 drawers on the right half, and the left half was a little closet with a bar for hanging clothes. 

I never really pick up furniture unless I know I can get rid of it quickly, because frankly I don't have the room to store it, and now that my kids are on summer vacation and in the car with me on my runs, I don't really have much room in my van either to get it back home. I peeked in a few bags that were on the ground with the dresser and saw clothing and other misc stuff, so I decided to grab those.

As I drove off, I couldn't stop thinking about the dresser, so I turned around to take another look. As I got back to it, the garbage truck pulled up at the same time. The garbage men asked me if I wanted to take the dresser and even offered to help me put it in my van. I told them that I just didn't think I had the room for it in my car. I popped the trunk, took a quick look and made a split second decision I regret. I told them thank you, but I didn't think I had the room. They then lifted the dresser, tossed it in the truck, and as I drove away, I watched in my rearview mirror as it got crushed :( Another beautiful, historic, well made and useable item for the landfill.

Going through the bags from the dresser spot left me more upset. One bag was full of clothing. Mostly women's and some children's items from big brand names like Old navy, Boca, Jacob, AE Sports, etc...Only 2 items went into my actual garbage pile.. a beyond stained t-shirt, and a torn up blouse. The rest of it was in perfect condition. Here is everything straight out out of the bag, and then all washed and folded ready for the second hand store.

The second bag didn't look too promising at first, the first thing I noticed was a lot of recyclable items.

Here are my sorted piles. There was tonnes of recycling...mainly juice jugs and tonnes of egg cartons. The juice jugs were clean and the egg cartons were stacked, so I guess someone was saving them for some reason. The actual garbage was some scrap wood pieces, a burnt light bulb, a torn car shade, one pair of shoes with holes, and a few others with no match. The reusable stuff that will be going to the second hand store is a plastic tray for underneath pet bowls, an unused sealed bag of red party cups, an older computer keyboard, and over a dozen of those reuasble plastic grocery bags. Can you see the bag at the top of the pile? It's a winged heart with the word "Recycling" across it. How ironic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


So, what can I tell you about me? Well, if you haven't already guessed...I'm a garbage picker.

Ever since I was a kid, it's been really hard for me to see something still useable and totally awesome sitting at the curb waiting for that truck to come by and bring it to a landfill. Over the years, I picked things up here and there when I came upon them by chance, always happy and proud of my little treasure that I found at the curb.

This summer I really got serious about my garbage picking after driving around with my little one (He loves car rides when he's cranky) and seeing how much stuff was being tossed. After going online and being inspired by a few forums and other blogs that I came across, I decided to start trying picking regularly. I have listed and mapped all the garbage days and times in my area and tend to go out daily for about an hour or so to do some "curb surfing".

The amount of usable, historic, and valuable stuff being thrown away everyday is just staggering. In this day and age when things are so expensive as well, it just frustrates and saddens me to see people trash their stuff because of ignorance, selfishness, or just plain laziness.

I tend to still be a bit on the shy side when hitting a pile at the road. I am a recovering agorophobic and still have anxious tendencies, so getting out of my car to investigate gets my heart racing. However, I think the "thrill of the hunt" is what makes this hobby exciting to me.

Whenever I spot a pile that looks interesting, I try to untie any garbage bags or make a small hole at the top and peek inside. If I see potentially good stuff inside, I'll just throw the whole bag into my car to be sorted out later at home. Ripping that bag open at home gives me that same feeling of giddiness I had as a kid when I got home from Trick or Treating, dumped out those halloween treat bags people put together and I excitedly tore into them thinking "Ooo! What did I get? What did I get?!"

Whatever I bring home gets sorted out into several piles: Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle & Actual trash. I've only done 2 garage sales this summer, and I have yet to set up an Ebay and/or Etsy account, but I have already made just over $200 selling stuff that was headed for the landfill. Anything I don't keep, or decide to sell, gets donated to local second hand stores that I frequent often (Second hand stores & garbage piles are my ultimate weakness!) Just because something isn't my taste, or not something I think I can make money on, doesn't mean that someone else won't love and/or need it.

The Lazy Trashers tend to just shove everything in garbage bags, so I also make sure that any loose papers, and anything else recyclable ends up in my blue bin. Broken stuff, or anything incomplete, ends up in the actual trash if it doesn't fit into my other pile categories.

So that's pretty much all about my garbage hobby in a nutshell, so far my pictures for the blog aren't that great...I need to take the time this winter (when garbage hunting slows down because of the weather conditions) to make myself a decent little lightbox set up. Until then, I hope you enjoy reading about my garbage adventures!

*You can also click on the album links on the right side to see more treasures I have picked up before I started this blog.*