Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Warning About Dumpster Diving

Technically it is theft. Theoretically, no one cares. But if someone does and calls the Police you can get a ticket (depending on your town's laws). Now, if you are DUMPING you get a Theft of Services ticket.

I learned this the other day.

No. I didn't get ticketed but a co-worker read in the paper that someone did.

Personally, my diving hunting has slowed down. I took a good look at all the stuff I have accumulated and realized why people throw it out! So I am focusing on fixing things up and selling or donating things off. I just got WIFI at home so ebay, craigslist here I come!

Here is a photo from a fellow Treasure Diver. All items were found in or next to a dumpster. This lucky college student is now fully prepared to study hard! What a lovely desk and they were going to throw it out!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Story of Stuff: Watch This!

Every wonder how all your stuff got to you, and what happens to it when you throw it away? If you have 20 minutes this is well worth your time!

And for more resources and information visit
The Story of Stuff website

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robin Rilette's Dumpster Diving Education

Robin: (giggling) "I did some scanning and already found some nice shoes, a handbag and other stuff! We have to go back to that dumpster!"

Robin met me after I finished hosting All Things Considered. I looked at her treasures and noticed the fake Chanel, white, gold chained handbag.

Sueann: "OMG! This is Chanel...fake but sweet!"
Robin: "And look at this cute stuffed cow!"
Sueann: "OK. This was an Asian dumpster. I can tell."
Robin: (curious at my insight) "Oh really? How do you know?"
Sueann: "Saccharin cute overstuffed cow? Fake Chanel, fabulous shoes? Has to be. The only thing that would confirm is a Hello Kitty item..."
Treasure Diving Partner: "Well, then I guess that blows your theory that Asians never throw anything away huh?"
Sueann: (choosing words carefully) "....Well. My mother is Asian and SHE never throws anything away. OK let's get busy!"

Robin was thrilled. She was amazed and upset at what she saw. We hit her dumpster and happen to be by a couple of Sororities. We found beautiful clothes and decoration items. Bags and bags full of shampoo and other cosmetic products - which we left behind.

Robin: "OMG! What is wrong with these people???? This is brand new!"
Sueann: "Shhh! Keep it down man. We don't want to be discovered. "
Robin: "Oh right. I guess I should keep my voice down..."

I went to another dumpster and found some adorable throw pillows. Nicely packed in garbage bag. The dumpster smelled so pretty! Calvin Klein, Bath and Body Works Peony, Liz Claiborne perfumes swirling in garbage. Then I looked up and saw a very disapproving old man. He was standing above me with his arms folded, shaking his head at me. I smiled and shrugged, grabbed the pillows and headed back to where Robin was.

Sueann: "Time to leave. Let's go. There's and old man watching us."

Robin had a very successful first night out and I do believe she has gone out by herself since! She said to me in a giggle, "This is the most exciting hobby I've had in years!"

TDP and I went across the border to Idaho. College was out there and we wanted to see what we could find. Compared to Washington's side - nothing to write about.

I also went to visit family in Puyallup. Took Dad out at 5:30am to see what we could find. I had high hopes for this because of the insane amount of strip malls and major shopping centers.

Nothing. Bone dry.

Dad: (laughing) "It's like going trick or treating and getting an apple out here!"
Sueann: "I am really bummed out man. I really thought we could find some sweet stuff."

Mother: "I didn't tink so baby. Mommy know. In country side (anything on the East of the Cascades) it is more lenient. Here. They lock up. No home-uh-less person digging here."

She was right. We drove to 3 strip malls and one major shopping center and I would say 80% of the dumpsters were locked or of some trash compacting type. Those that were open were filled with real trash.

Of coarse - the rule of dumpster diving is you must visit a dumpster often.

I will let you know how much I make off ebay and or Craigslist when I put things up for sale. I am curious to find out how much one can make, donate and create with this hobby.

NOTE: Our Dear Ms. Coldsnow is lucky. She has biological minions to dive for her - patrolling locations, gleaning treasures! I just want you to know that our Morning Edition host caught the bug too! ;)

UPDATE: Guess what I found? Remember how upset I was about losing a dresser? I left it in an alley and someone took it? Well. I found another one on my way to work! SCORE!

And my TDP was about to buy a used microwave for $20 when I found this for him! Ask and you shall recieve! It was bleeding red sauce but with a little elbow grease we discovered a perfecly fine microwave.

Stories on NPR: Dumpster Diving Treasures as Gifts?

LISTENER CONTRIBUTION: Lisa from Moscow sent me this picture of her dumpster finds!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Taking Her Out To Trash!

I am taking Robin Rilette out tonight for treasure diving. She was curious about my findings and well, maybe my brand new Ugg Boots convinced her too. Retail for $164! Best part? They fit!

Robin: "It just makes me sick what is thrown away! You know what else? It is disrespectful of the person who made those boots. Can you imagine? The person who made those boots is barely making a living wage and some girl bought 'em and threw them away. Unbelievable."

Sueann: "Whoa. You have a great point but on the flip side...what if the Ugg Abondoner is giving the manufacturer job security? I mean...Ugg Abandoner is going to buy another pair in the Fall right?"

Robin: "Good point. But it is so wasteful."

Sueann: "Which is something else I've been thinking about. I heard that companies calculate how many products will be sold at full price, sale price and how many will be, quote, donated. So they have figured how many items can be discarded while still making a profit."

Robin: "And we pay for that huh?"

Sueann: " I guess... unless you DUMPSTER DIVE!!!!" (Sueann does dance in Ugg boots)

But am I hurting the economy? I wanted Ugg boots since...oh it became fashionable for girls to wear huge sweatpants and Ugg boots (so comfy looking and terrible) and I was about to buy some when I was in Australia. But. The price. $150. I could have spent that $150 to stimulate the economy. Is dumpster diving Un-American? Wait! Is driving only one car for 10 years Un-American? Is wearing my 1994 brown leather biker jacket with zippers everywhere Un-American? (Friend recently said, 1980's but still OK. You pull it off.) Because it seems to me that we need to spend to be good citizens.

On another note, I had a great conversation with Rick Finch, Manager of Fac-Ops Waste Management at W.S.U. I asked him about the Move Out Pitch In bins around campus.

Apparently, the waste was noticed and they started this program.

Mr. Finch says the items are shared among several non-profits around the region. When I asked him why not have more around the outlining apartment complexes he said, "Limited resources and time. Our main concern is the campus and immediate areas. It is also a jurisdictional and financial issue. We also have a limited number of groups and they got pretty much all they can handle right now. But in the future, if more groups want to participate and work this we could expand."

Mr. Finch also had a good point about college students. He basically said that students moved their belongings over here one car load at a time - over several years. Then when graduation comes they didn't think that all their stuff had to fit in that same little car!

I'll be sure to post pictures of my Fair, Morning Classical Music Host and Music Director, Robin Rilette in the trash!

Here are some blogs to check out. I highly recommend Everyday Trash to see how the rest of the world survive.

Everyday Trash

My Dumpster Dive Blog

Remember to Take a Buddy - Poor Senator!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Stole My Trash? What Am I Doing With This?

Another rule of "Treasure Diving" is to put your booty away and not leave it in the alley...because it disappears. I was upset when I came home and the white dresser was gone. I thought, "Someone stole my dresser! The dresser I worked so hard to shove in my car! The dresser that has been in my family for 2 days! How dare they???"

Then I took a deep breath, looked around and figured they probably thought I didn't want it because it was out in the alley, near the garbage can. Doh!

So Sueann's Supplement Dumpster Diving Rule: Keep treasures away from the curb and store in a secure place.

I'm over it now. Sort of. I am trying to figure out how to fall in love with that other dresser I picked up. The ugly one. I'm sorta imagining it as an arranged marriage that an Asian father set up saying to his daughter, "He has personality if you can get past the looks."

You may have been wondering what I plan on doing with all the stuff right? Well. I WAS going to shabby chic that white dresser...but I have let that go now. Instead I will use an old window and The Other dresser to make some sweet piece of...something.

Some of the pants will become Tote Bags. Like this one I sewed up. You can wear it while riding your bike and it has many pockets to lose things in.

I plan on doing a little anecdotal experiment with craigslist, ebay and local ads to see which leads to a the first sale of the Kitchen Aid attachments.

And then there's the "What Was I Thinking" category of stuff.

I could take the fatigues and sew something...but camo is so 2005! I could make a Fairy Garden with the monster toys I found - have the monsters pillaging the Fairy Village, but I think that's disturbing. So instead, a whole lot of stuff will be donated.

My "Treasure Diving" partner helped save me from a "What Was I Thinking" potential problem. You see...I picked up a Free Organ - Lawrence Welk edition. I thought I could learn to play it, host mini concerts for my friends and maybe play at the Moscow Farmer's Market and have Robin Rilette sing! But TDP (Treasure Diving Partner) had this look of "This is never going to happen." So I called my Dad. He said, "This is never going to happen. Donate it." So off it went to inspire others.

I have to admit that during the "Treasure Diving" I experienced many feelings. Euphoria at the discovery of things I like, disgust at the waste, entrepreneurial dreams, and greed.

Veteran dumpster divers have a great suggestion for this - take only what you need or can pass on.

And leave things for other creatures and humans too.

More to come!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Weekend Full of Waste and Treasure - Dumpster Diving Experience

Mom: "WHAT are you doing? Oh my Ga! What you do? Mommy says stop that now! Oh my Ga... Don't you have a job baby? I mean, what's the matter with you???!!!!!"

I went dumpster diving and my mother called. Friday night. I have been training her for years not call on Friday nights - but I guess you can't change your mother. Friday night, when most are doing traditionally fun Friday night things, I am...looking for treasure in the trash!

Me: "Mom, calm's OK. It's not like I am touching anything gooey or diving in a medical receptacle!" (That didn't help.)

I told my mom that I needed both hands for this endeavor and I would call her tomorrow. She hung up without saying goodbye. I looked at my partner in filth and said, "She's really REALLY upset about this."

Of coarse, it would have helped if I started out by saying I was doing this for my NWPR Blog. (evil giggle) But sometimes I like to freak my mother out! Mwha ha ha ha!

My Mother's reaction is very common. When you think of Dumpster Diving you imagine the down and out scavenging for food - anything to survive. You don't imagine they would find anything of real value - or what you find valuable. Does this have value to you?

Many Americans wouldn't imagine ever finding these brand new Kitchen Aid Food Processor Attachments in a dumpster. Who would throw these away? The items in the above picture are worth at least $70. Retail

Or how about a brand new down feather bed? Brand name $98 jacket? Various KitchenAid Mixer attachments? Brand new sheets? Not all department stores donate their wares.

I was inspired to fully explore Dumpster Diving this year because of the reports I have heard on NPR.
Here is an interview with a woman who wants to marry chic with scavenging!

And maybe you saw the video from my last post about the New York couple who get their food from a dumpster?

I didn't experiment with food diving...yet. That is later in the week. Frankly, I was exhausted from Dumpster Diving because... I GOTS ME SOME TREASURE!!!!!

My hands are sore. I have a couple of bruises, my apartment is stuffed with "garbage!" So the food experiment will have to wait. Here are some of the items I found.

Old gas BBQ - I left it and someone else took it away later in the day.

Disco Ball Baby! Lots of wires that my Dumpster Diving Partner could use, a cement power drill and ... another BBQ. I found 3 very nice BBQs.

A couple of broken chairs that I will repair and pass on, two nice bar stools. When I was pulling these out of an apartment complex dumpster a guy came up to me.

Guy: "Hey. What you doing?"
Me: "....check out this chair man! There's a TV in there ( saw 3 TVs that night )!
Guy: "Yeah. It's a real shame the things people throw away. Man. If I wasn't moving out of here next week I would do what you are doing."
Me: "Yeah. It's amazing what you can find."

He moved on. You're probably wondering what do you do when someone sees you?
Dumpster Divers have rules. I researched online that you do the following.

BE SAFE - no sketchy dumpsters, medical dumpsters...etc.

1. Have a partner because lids can drop on top of you and things can be heavy
2. Wear protection - gloves and full clothing.
3. Spend only 2 minutes or less looking in a dumpster. If you don't see anything that catches your eye leave.
4. If it takes longer than 2 minutes to remove an item - leave.
5. If someone tells you to leave - leave and never return
6. Know if this is illegal in your town. Most places it is not. But respect trespassing signs and never open a locked dumpster.
7. Always leave it cleaner than you found it.
8. If someone asks what you are doing, "I'm looking for boxes." Then be willing to leave behind your finds.

Barely used cooler with wheels, tiki torches and an old fire pit grill that is now yard art!

I found a lot of furniture and only picked up a few pieces. I have this thing about furniture. I like it. I like fixing them up and perhaps gifting them or selling them at consignment shops.

I found one dumpster near a huge apartment complex that was stuffed with barely used clothing and shoes. I pulled out this enormous duffle bag and it was full of men's size 13 Nike shoes. Barely worn! My Diving Partner found a bag full of women's size 8 shoes...including Sketchers and Michele K sports shoes.

Here are a pair of shoes rescued from Landfill. These shoes retail for $75 on sale now for $50.

My co-worker, Robin Rilette, was uneasy when I told her what I did for the weekend. I have a feeling, she is shocked by what I found and wasteful Americans are. But Wait! There's more!

Very nice clothes including a GAP jean jacket.

Outdoor Bar that needs one leg fixed (got a pal who can do that) and wash the cover!

This amused me. Recycling bin in the trash, next to paper, next to barley worn shoes.

More furniture...

I had to drop off a key at Thom Kokenge's and this was after a round of "Rescuing Things." He was amazed! Except with one of my arty pieces. It is now hanging artwork on someone's garage! Out of the landfill - safely above a garbage can - viewed by alley cats and happy to be reused.

Tomorrow I will share my thoughts about this experience and what I plan to do with my found treasures. Oh. And I will share my convesation with my mother - who lost a night's sleep because of me!

Friday, May 02, 2008

What Are You Doing Tonight Sueann? Dumpster Diving.

Your Friendly, Local, All Things Considered Host here...soon to be in your dumpster. Come Monday I will tell you all about my Dumpster Diving experience! Will I find food AND eat it? Will I find anything good? Will I get an infection? Touch something questionable and gooey? How far will I go to bring you this story and share the experience? My digital camera and camcorder will tell...just don't tell my Mother.