TipsFrugal Living

Finding Trash Treasures

The elementary school across the street from my home was closing its doors due to a new school was built in another location. The teachers had to clean out their classrooms. So, one evening I was over at the playground with my girls and noticed a very large dumpster. In it was 2 wooden bookshelves, a wooden TV cart, a heavy duty plastic rolling shelves that I just COULD NOT leave behind!!!


(along with other items-a cute little lamp with a energy efficient light bulb, an unopened bag of markers, new pencils, new crayons, plastic containers and bins, etc.) Anyway, I sanded the wooden pieces and spray painted them! You would never be able to tell they were "trash" treasures now!

April from Demorest, GA

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July 29, 20080 found this helpful

Well, good for you! There are people out there who make a living finding things like this & stuff at garage sales & thrift stores who re-sell it on E-bay... Back in the 70's & 80's you could find ALL kinds of stuff in dumpsters... I had a friend who lived in southern California in the early 80's who would go to all of the very high end stores & check out their dumpsters. These stores would not re-sell anything that was returned, so she found all kinds of things in their dumpsters, from a beautiful unbroken crystal lamp, to small furniture & other wonderful goodies. But nowadays, because of liability issues, these dumpsters are now chained, locked & fenced. And sadly, the cops will charge you with theft if you are caught inside or with merchandise from one.


In the Seattle area, thankfully we no longer have food being thrown into dumpsters because of gleaning clubs & donations to food banks. I am very happy that all of that "past pull date" food is not going to waste as it did in the old days. I had some friends who where in a religious cult in the late 60's who lived off of food that was thrown away into dumpsters... & believe it or not, this man I knew was one time was picked up while in the dunpster & actually ended up INSIDE of the garbage truck & nearly lost his life... After that all of the grocery stores in Alaska (where they lived) started pouring bleach over their dumpster food... but before that, they use to get huge blocks of cheese that only had a tiny bit of mold on the outside that could be cut off & still frozen turkeys (after Thanksgiving) not to mention milk, yogurt & veggies...

---> But, thankfully these days most areas will give their "not so great" to Food Banks & Gleaning Clubs (clubs where the members go through the "past pull date" food & take it from the stores to distribute between the members). These Gleaning Clubs can save a family over $400 per month & you can get expensive fresh fruit & veggies for you family that most people could not afford these days. You only need to sort the bruised from the wilted. My friend's gleaning club had their own freezers & fridges in a member's garage where she could schedule an appointment to go "shopping" (for free) once or twice a week... But all of this is not without work as she had to give up 2 days a week to go to 4 or 5 stores to work by going through their produce, milk, yogurt, fresh juice, cookies, muffins & pre-made salad areas to sort the old from the new, box it up & carry it all back to the sorting garage. Finally she quit & gave it all up when her boys grew up & moved out as it was such a hassle to give up 2 or more days per week for this, even though she got so much free food. These "Gleaning Clubs" work best for those who stay at home or have a flexible work schedule.

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July 29, 20080 found this helpful

That had to be so exciting! There is nothing as fun as coming across an unexpected treasure like that. It sure pays to keep your eyes open, doesn't it? Way to go!


Carole, from Locust Fork, Alabama

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July 30, 20080 found this helpful

That's excellent!
Another good time I found out yrs ago to check for treasures is the last day of school when all the notebooks (& other) kids don't want to carry all the way home ! A LOAD of perfectly good clean paper is tossed that day!

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

A great find indeed but it does distress me to think of someone just putting those good items in a dumpster. It was good that you recycled them and they never made it onto the garbage truck!

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

We used to live at a place where college students (parent paid the rent) lived and when they moved out we found alot of cool stuff.

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