Wasted

Here is my class assignment. It’s a little rough, but I’m pretty happy with it. I got the biggest compliment from my teacher. It was supposed to be a maximum of 2 1/2 minutes and she talked about whether I thought I justify the additional length. I went with my gut and it paid off and so did all of my work. She said that it made her ill and that I was right about the length. I learned a lesson. I should trust myself more. I also have my parent’s to thank for this. I couldn’t have done it without them. Anyway, enjoy!

Glimpsing

Oh.My.Gosh. So, I haven’t had enough time to start and complete enough research to complete a post. Sorry about that. I’m sure you’re just hanging onto the edge of your seat, waiting, but the blog topic that I chose for my class is taking the amount of time the expected and as a result, I’m living the consequences as I expected. It’s too bad because I really like this one more, but it’s only 12 days and I think I have four or so left to go. The worst part is I already have the third of the followers that  I have on this one and I’m only been writing for a week. Isn’t that sad?

Anyway, what really got me behind on both blogs is my new assignment. It’s a slide show, we have to take all the pictures ourselves, we have to make the audio to go with the pictures and then we have to put them together. The problem with is that I chose, obviously, the theme of talking about all that we waste, some consequences, and what we can do to reduce it. This means I need pictures. With content. So far it’s turned out as a bunch of pictures of dumpsters and trash. Mediocrely boring. Most of plans like taking pictures of the dorm dumpsters fell through because there isn’t hardly any people living in them and at the time that I could take them it had just been taken. Grrrr…. I’ve had a bunch a problems with the teacher saying things that weren’t true that messed up my plans and I’m kind of freaking out because I really don’t know what or how I’m going to say about the pictures I’ve taken, but I’m really not here to complain about this stupid project. I’m here to tell you about what I stumbled upon. So random that it must be fate telling me that something good may come out of this.  In my hometown, not even my college town, I randomly stumbled into a couple and guess what they were doing? Dumpster diving. That’s right. I nearly choked to death on my excitement. I told him I was doing a school project and could I take his picture. And like the few people I’ve talked to (and because I absolutely had to) he goes:………………………what? I explained a bit more and he made sure I wasn’t going to like condemn him or anything and then he said yes. He didn’t want his face pictured, his wife or whoever wouldn’t even get out of the truck, but he let me take his picture. We didn’t find anything…another grrr…. but it was cool. He’s been dumpster diving for 20 years and he’s found enough stuff to buy himself two houses (he probably bought one then sold it then bought the other, but still) and everything in house from the stove, washer, dryer, everything is something he’s found in the dumpster. Just last month, he found over $2,500 worth the stuff.

I still haven’t found anything super amazing, or something that would make people stop in their tracks and think about their ridiculousness, but maybe in the next couple of days, but I have a tiny shimmer of hope. Anyway, hope you have a pleasant morning, evening, day, depending on where you are.

Treasure Hunting

Yesterday was a very busy day. My family got up 6:30 drove to our favorite dumpster spot at a university about 2 hours from our house. We met my mom’s friend and her husband there and we got down to business. It was graduation day, so many people were bustling about with family, saying goodbyes, cleaning out dorms, throwing things away… At first it wasn’t too bad, we were at some dumpsters that were kind of far away from the dorms that they were for. You could see people going back and forth; I think some saw us, but most of them weren’t even paying attention. We found two desk chairs, one was pretty nice, the other wasn’t bad. Both had a problem piece, but they both seemed fixable. We took one and Tracy, my mom’s friend, took one. We found some other stuff, too. I’ve lost track of the order, but we visited several and by the end of the day, both our cars were full. We ran into a couple of other ‘customers’ of the dumpster diving store. That was kind of funny, but one group was at one of our favorite dumpsters. Our other favorite (the one we found all the money in) was also occupied, but just by people hanging around, I think.

We found several textbooks, one not even out of its wrapper yet, some clothes, several plastic storage containers, notebooks, Ramen noodles, Chex mix, and other snack like items, one of those fancy binder things. Tracy and I had seen that dude coming and we were eying what he had in his bag. She said nearly ripped it out of his hands so she could see what was in it. I wasn’t that hardcore about it, but I definitely wanted to know what it was. We found a comforter (with no money, I’m pretty sure), a pillow, towels, a couple shower caddy things, a printer, two of those small vacuums, a couple of mops and brooms, a curling iron, a couple of dishes, a clock, and many other things.

People came and threw away things while we were digging around and really it wasn’t too bad. Some people were really starring, some were like…. And then some just went about their day. I only got in one dumpster, in front of people too, and that was to check out a microwave that turned out to be broken. There was a guy really watching that time. He didn’t seem appalled or anything, just curious, I guess, maybe.

We’ll probably be donating most of it, except for the school supplies and textbooks. The text books are all that we’ll probably be selling. It was a pretty good day. The end of spring semester is when you really want to go. People are officially moving out, so that’s when they throw out a bunch of stuff cause they’re lazy.

When I first started this blog, I said that it would be primarily about how and where to dumpster diving, but I have fallen fairly short of that goal. I would like to apologize. Usually the best I can find are boxes, coffee grounds and beer.  So sorry.

I’ll be going to this school in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping I can go on a regular basis. My parents and I have decided to start saving up some of the stuff that we find so I can use it for my house when I get one. If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, dumpster diving is super fun and I hope you try it before you miss out on all the great stuff being thrown out this time a year. Happy Diving!

Short Story Chapter 1: A Rude Awakening

I had to write a short story for my creative writing class. I had written a vignette not too long ago and I used the same character, but I didn’t have enough space to do anything too major, so I just saved it for the short story assignment. I hate authors that leave you hanging and dying until the next book comes out. It’s just plain mean, but for once I now have that power. My chapter endings aren’t that much of cliff hanger, but I’ll only be posting one chapter a day cause I can. Anyways, enjoy.

Chapter 1: A Rude Awakening

Hello, my name is Dixie and I’m a white plastic spoon. About two months ago, I was waiting in a bag on the shelves of a giant store with my 99 siblings. There were thousands of families like ours and we were waiting to be adopted out. A nice young family with a mom and dad, a baby girl and school-aged son came and looked at all of us.

“Hey! Hey! Pick me, pick me,” all of us would cry as people came down our aisle.

My family and I had been waiting for months, but now finally our time was here.

“They picked us. We can finally be loved and fulfill our purpose! We can live happily ever after,” we cried in excitement.

Little did we know that our dreams would become our nightmare. It was an ordinary Friday night and my siblings and I were just laying on the cupboard shelf like we normally we do when all of a sudden the door to the cupboard was opened and a blinding light came flooding in. One might have been angered by the startling sight, but we knew it could only mean one thing…we were going to be used! We started cheering as the man whose apartment we were staying in picked us up.

Party decorations were strewn about. It was obviously a child’s birthday. A dash of bright blue with a splash of yellow, the sight of Wolverine and the smell of pizza were so strong they could have made one hazy. The party had yet to start and the apartment was empty besides the four family members, so one could easily hear the busy streets, honking horns below on the New York streets.

The man, who the lady usually called Mark, grabbed a handful of us and tossed us in a cup. There we would wait to finally fulfill our destiny. One by one my siblings were picked out, used, but they never came back. Finally it got down to just a couple of us. We all stood tall and smiled as big as we could, trying to be that perfect pick. But the music stopped and so did deafening sound of kids yelling. The apartment emptied just as it was about to be my turn. I yelled for people to come back, but no one listened. Another day maybe.

Mark called out, “Hey, Lucy, what do you want me to do with these leftover spoons? Keep them for another time or just throw them away?”

Our ears perked up and our handles straightened so much we thought we might snap.

Lucy peered around the corner and replied, “Just throw them away. It’s too much space taken up and hassle for just a couple of spoons.”

Mark picked us up and threw us into another bag filled with dirty plates, half eaten pizza slices and melted ice cream. I was appeased by the taste of ice cream. I love ice cream, but then the bag got dark and the sounds of the street got louder. It was earsplitting.

“Where are we going?” I cried. I tried to cower in the bag, blend in with my surroundings, anything that I could do to delay my untimely demise. It was too late; there was no one there to care or to save me. They threw me into the dumpster. It stunk like rotting food, dirty diapers, beer, and cigarettes. It was the most disgusting combination of smells; it was worse than anything, anyone could have ever imagined.

“What’s happening?” I asked slightly taken aback by the smell.

“Welcome to the dumpster. It’s where you go when you outlive your usefulness and no one wants you anymore,” said a mope piece of lettuce.

The smell was so awful that it was making me dizzy, so I couldn’t focus on what he was saying.

“What’s happening?” I asked again.

“You’ve been thrown away. Get used to it, it’s only going to get worse from here,” said a symphony of beef cuts still perfectly wrapped.

‘This must be a dream,’ I thought.

I closed my eyes for several seconds, hoping that when I opened them I would be back safe in the cupboard. When I opened my eyes, it was a rude awakening. The smell was there, the hopeless faces were still there, and I was still there.

They look perfectly useful to me, so why were they in the trash, I wondered.

“Why are you guys here? You don’t look useless?” I asked.

“We’re past our expiration date. No one will even consider us if we’re expired even if we’re still perfectly fine. The store owners threw us out. We’re hoping to get rescued though. There is a group of people called the freegans or people who limit their participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. They usually bargain, trade or extreme cases, dumpster dive for what they want. They embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, conformity, and greed. We hear about freegans who dumpster dive for food all the time and we’re hoping they’ll see how useful we really are.”

“Is there any hope for me?” I asked.

“Not unless, a group comes around that is into upcycling,” they replied in harmony.

“What’s upcycling,” I asked.

“Upcycling or giving everyday products a new life and purpose. I’ve heard of people who fold wrappers into a certain way that make them into a chain and eventually it makes a purse. Or people who take wine corks and make corkboards. Different things like that,” they replied.

“So what’s your name?” I asked.

“Our name is Angus,” they replied.

So that’s how we got here and that’s what has happened up until this moment. It’s the morning after I was thrown away. We’re still waiting and I have a tortuous headache. But, oh, oh no I hear a trash truck. Beeping, oh that horrid beeping.

We cry, “Some of are still good. Donate us, recycle us, repurpose us!” No one is listening, they’re taking us anyway, but we don’t stop crying. Our cries hovered in the city.  The people of this country seem to be too lazy to save us or don’t care enough to see our worth.

We’re not giving up until we draw our last breath. For some that will be thousands of years, for some just a few months, but we can’t give up. The trash truck dumps into the landfill. It smells worse than the dumpster; almost 1000 times worse. Most of the new trash and I land with our faces down in the goop. We turn around and look up. All that surrounds us is mountains, valleys, oceans of hopelessness.

Success!

Man, I had such a productive day yesterday.

First, my mom and I took our recycling to the center. I’ve been collecting wine corks to make cork boards, but it takes quite a lot just to make a decent sized one and it’s hard to find them around here because not very many people drink wine here. I’ve been asking restaurants, but they only give me four or five a week. So when I saw that they were having a wine festival I knew I couldn’t give up that opportunity. I had called the guy, who was running the event last week to explain and ask him if I could come, but he didn’t remember me nor did he understand what I was asking for. I had expected this would happen, so I made sure to get their early before it got all chaotic and busy.  That was the next thing we did. We dropped off some containers so the different wineries could put their wine corks in them. Since I’m under 21 he had some other guy go with me around to the different tables. He explained everything for me which made my time there a lot less stressful (I’m terrible at explaining what I’m wanting. I don’t know why, but no one ever seems to get it.) I told them I would come get them later.

Then we went dumpster diving. We went to several places down town, mostly to see what was in them. I didn’t need anything, but I just like to know for future reference and just in case I find something that I know someone else could use. We saw a cabinet, a tire, a vintage suitcase, and what looked to be a cardboard thing that carpet gets rolled on and we kept that for the kids. We did our first round at the mall. We haven’t gone before because mall security is always driving around, but this time we braved it and just did it quickly. We mostly found boxes, but we did find a computer monitor. I’m not sure if it works or not, but I have a pretty exciting plan for it anyways.

After we ate lunch and went to Wal-Mart (my worst nightmare) we went dumpster diving again. It was an electrical supply store that was by another place we had to stop at, so it was just a random decision.  I’m not 100 percent sure what we found, actually I have no idea what it was, but it had all these wires sticking out and there was about 50 lone wires that were in the bottom. We’ve decided that anytime we find electronics or wires that we’re going to strip the copper from them and sell it. We were pretty excited by our find.

Later in the day I went back to get my corks. I got a pretty good bag full; not as much as I wanted, but more than I would have gotten in like half a year of just restaurants alone so I’m grateful for it.

We have five cats that spend the day time outside and then come into the garage at night. They’re pretty messy and piggly little things so when they eat inside we have place mats to keep them from tracking food everywhere. We have to get some new mats because the current ones were falling apart. My mom said, “What could we upcycle into some new place mats?”

I hadn’t even thought about trying to come up with something, but as soon as she said it, I knew exactly what we could use. You see, my dad works at a gym facility and a couple of weeks ago they had to replace one of the belt (I think it’s called a belt, but just that part you walk and run on) of the treadmill. He asked me if I wanted it and my first reaction was, yeah that could make an awesome yoga mat. Of course it was later that I realized how silly that was. It was way too rough and knowing myself I could get seriously hurt on that. It’s not padded either, so I discarded my ridiculous idea and it has been sitting out there ever since waiting for me to use it. So as soon as she said it I knew that’s what we should use.  My dad cut it with a box cutter and you can see the kitties eating below. Take my word for it, I thought they were adorable before, but they’re way cuter now that they’re eating on their upcycled place mats. The picture below is of Cheerio (orange and white) and Melody and Harmony. The other two were scared by the camera, but you can see the two front paws of Mr. T. (He wasn’t named after the official Mr. T. We only named him that because he had a white T marked on his face.) Mystique is the other one and yes she was named after the Mystique in x-men. She is all black and I knew the second she was born that she was either going to be a Mystique or a Wolverine. She was a girl, so a Mystique she became. It suits her. Someday I’ll tell you all about them and how I came to find each one. In my opinion they’re very entertaining and they’re always on my mind, so it’s taken a lot of discipline not to write about them every time.

The kitties eating on their new place mats

Melody and Harmony and a hint of Mr. T eating on their new place mats.

So anyways, pretty much that was my day yesterday. Once again I must say, I love dumpster diving. Whether I find things that are universally useful or just the things that have the potential to be, it pretty much makes the world my oyster and there is nothing more exciting than that.

99% vs. 1%

The restaurant that held a supposed battle between economic classes has confirmed that the receipt was altered and they have no record of there having been a receipt of that value with that particular information.

Warning: The next part is a bit of a rant.

After I read this, I thought my head was going to explode. I was just so mad at consumers for letting it get this far, letting them take control like that. Despite the supposed fact is that the receipt was altered to add the writing and all that, that is not the end. Partly because there seems to be something else wrong. The article does not say that the whole receipt was fabricated. It says “altered and exaggerated”, but how much and in what way? According to the link below, the original receipt was totaled at 33.54 and the tip was 1.33.  The customer may have not been a wealthy banker, but an average person trying to get us worked up, but who cares.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/photoshop/restaurant-receipt-photoshop-hoax-869032

Besides that, I’m sure that this is not the only time where the a wealthier customer has stiffed a waitress or a server of any kind. The receipt being declared “altered and exaggerated” does not change anything. What was written on that receipt is true to the extent that that 1% thinks that we are beneath them, it just took a photocopied receipt to make some people realize it. They believe that they worked hard enough to get to their status so they earn the right to be rude and to own us.

They forget who paid the taxes for their bailout, who buys the products that pay to line their toilet bowl with gold, who pays for their own wages. They forget without the working class they would have nothing. No fancy anything and they would have to do all these ‘services’ like getting their own food, shining their own shoes, and whatever ridiculous things they pay for because they probably can’t even do it themselves and that’s not even scratching the surface of pointing out all the things they need us for.

We have become so dependent on these companies that we let them get by these kinds of actions. When I heard that they were starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving I thought, “Surely with the Occupy stuff going on people won’t support this.” I knew it was wishful thinking, but I had some inkling of hope. After that I had no hope. Last year it was worse than ever. American’s are so concerned about getting the latest gadget or whatever that they’ve lost all of their principles. They won’t even spend time with their family or let others spend time with their family because they have buy all of their crap. We’re pathetic.

The bottom line, which I’ll probably say a million more times during the course of this blog,  is they don’t own us, we own them. We just have to take control what is ours. It is certainly harder and takes a lot more effort, especially with other people who just say ‘what’s the point. So what?’. Stop taking the easy way out, support local business, start your own garden, dumpster dive, buy something used, do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to prove it.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the argument, but the main point is that they don’t own us and I want people to consider that the next time they think they ‘need’ something.

The Good News and the Bad News

Last Sunday when I posted Clothing Solutions, I said that I would update you at the end of the week with some good locations for dumpster diving with clothes. I’m sorry to say that I failed my mission.

I looked in a number of both local and chain clothing store dumpster including second hand stores and besides loads of boxes and pallets, I didn’t find very much in them. It’s possible that I had bad timing. I did a couple of runs at different mall centers at different times. While some dumpsters were filled to the rim with boxes, some were completely empty. For the empty ones, I though the trucks had probably just run in that area and for the others I’m thinking that’s possible that around the end or first of the month is when people most likely throw out the old clothes to make room for the new ones. Other than university/college dorm dumpster, apartments and a local thrift store, I have no places to add to my list. I won’t be giving up though because this week in the last week of the month and I’ll be making some more rounds.

I do have some good news though. One, if my timing is not off, it’s possible that people are not as irresponsible with their leftover clothes as I had been lead to believe. I don’t doubt that people on a non-business level are thoughtless, but fashion chains might just have enough sense to ship the un-bought clothes back to the warehouse to sell later or maybe even donate. We’ll just have to see.

Two, when there are multiple dumpsters at places like a mall center I usually just go down the line and look in all the dumpsters for a future reference type deal. One thing that there is never too little of is boxes. If you plan on moving anytime soon there is no need to go and buy boxes, in all sizes, because there are thousands of them just waiting to be reused. Every dumpster you look in will have at least one box. Wooden shipping pallets are also in abundance.  While I looked in a variety of different dumpsters for different businesses I saw some unique things that people may want sooner or later.

I looked in the Salvation Army dumpster today and although I didn’t find too much in it, beside it was 6 or 7 mattresses and a couple of couches and chairs. Why they were there, I’m not too sure. Maybe they were too torn up to be of any use (I thought it would be weird to go and lay down on one to check, so I didn’t. Maybe next time.) This is not the first time that I’ve seen them there, so if you’re looking for a mattress or want the springs for a project, I’d start there. I’ve also seen mattresses at a furniture store that I always pass by on the way to class.

Food is also in every dumpster I have looked in. For those freegan newbies, you’re in luck because foods along with boxes are the most common trash products I find.

If you having a balding dog and want to make them a toupee, a dog grooming shop would be a great place to look. I found a dumpster for one and it was full to the rim. It might be an interesting hobby for after my retirement.

I found a trash in a dumpster that suggested that the business may be remodeling. I found some ceiling tiles, rubber base molding that I almost considered taking, but they were big and I didn’t know for sure if I could use them, so I left them.