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Best thing you ever pulled from a dumpster or out of someone's garbage?

 
steward & bricolagier
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Not sure of a better thread for this, so I'll toss it here: I LOVE it when people throw the manuals out with things! YAY! A big thank you to the organized people who apparently won't use said manual to fix it....
 
pollinator
Posts: 181
Location: western NY (Erie County), USA; zone 6a.
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Dumpster? Furniture. Mainly a folding table that I used as a kitchen table. Also, a small bookcase that I had used to hold CD's. I no longer have them, they ended up being sold off when I left that place to relocate.

Garbage? Not so much garbage, but pre-garbage. My neighbor was going to throw out some fencing. Nice chain link fences (no posts, though) and wire garden fencing that I used in this years's garden. It worked really well in keeping out pests.
 
pollinator
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Phil Swindler wrote:I've saved hundreds of dollars picking up pallets and other wood from in and around dumpsters.  I have a stool and some shelves built from that wood.  I've given away several things made of that wood and made props for church plays.
My grandson and I are building him a treasure chest from scrounged wood.  We are even using home made glue that is water proof.  (I can explain that if anybody is interested.)  The handles will be made of salvaged copper pipe.

I pick up nearly every microwave I find.  I teach science and they have several bits and bobs that are good for use in science classes.



This is a follow up.  
We finished the chest months ago.  

Sorry, I didn't think to take a picture before sending it home with my grand son.

We gave it brass hinges and clasps.  
It has a piece of chain to keep the lid from flopping all the way open.
The copper pipe handles on little blocks of wood to give finger clearance turned out nice.  
The ends are completely flattened while the middles are flattened to an oval shape.
It has a medium brown stain with a very durable finish.  (Sorry not an organic finish.)
It is strong enough to sit on.
The dimensions are 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 1/2 foot.
Most of it was scrounged or reused or leftover from other projects.
The only parts we actually bought for this project were the hinges and hasps.
 
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I really would not know where to start. I guess that I would say that I personally LOVE dumpster diving. I began my love for dumpster diving in the mid 80's when I began delivering freight on a flatbed to the Chicago area. Our product, warehouse rack, typically was delivered to new warehouses that were just nearing completion. For all that don't know, at the end of the "job," the contractors will throw away most every supply that was not used. It would go into the dumpsters at the job site. My job (and my sanity) dictated that I get up very early and get on the road as I usually had multiple deliveries in "the city," plus I always wanted to be ahead of the rush hour traffic. That would put me at the job sites earlier than anyone else. So, with the free time I would dumpster dive onsite. I have brought everything home from plywood to conduit to windows. I once went to an office building that was being closed. After the fire dept. and other depts. for the town had went through the office and picked out everything that they wanted to reuse at their offices, they called us in to haul out the remaining. It was to be scrapped with the stipulation that the "drivers" (me) could have what they wanted. Another time that I was delivering to a "rack warehouse" (place where they store warehouse rack to be sold at a later date and then assembled (think Home Depot,) they were scrapping thousands of pounds of warehouse rack. They gave me several "bundles" of unassembled rack which I sold later for a cool $500. I don't really have a "best" from a dumpster dive, and technically all were not from a dumpster, BUT as far as salvage goes, I certainly gleaned the salvage of Chicago for many years. As I sit here and ponder, one item DOES come to mind. I was delivering warehouse rack downtown Chicago one time to my friends business. He was cleaning out all of the "corners" of his old old warehouse and had filled a scrap hopper. I looked in and there laid an "ACE" brand stapler, made in USA in the 40's or so. It was the kind that you pound on with your hand when you staple. I took it home and cleaned it up and to my surprise, after taking all of the oil and crud off of it, it looked brand new. It works perfectly and has served as my "go to" stapler for many years. That was a long story to get to the end; I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for letting me share.
antique-1938-ace-model-102-industrial-stapler-6739.jpeg
Ace Stapler
Ace Stapler
 
Phil Swindler
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Steven Staley wrote:I really would not know where to start. I guess that I would say that I perso....



Dumpster dive vs scrounging, I wouldn't quibble over the semantics.
In my opinion, if you kept stuff out of the landfill and bettered your bottom line, that's a win-win.
 
pollinator
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At one sitting? A Lista tool chest full of tools and hardware, 3-4000 pounds (who knows for sure?) of bar and tube stock plus the racks it had all been held on. (this was a team effort, 3 truckloads)
Runner up? Two 12,000# Warn winches with cable. I noticed the spools of cable, that was cool enough, then I realized they were winches! (needed TLC, but functional) How I ever managed to haul them up from the bottom of the dumpster by myself!! with a webbing cargo strap, pulling hand-over-hand, while standing on the side of my pickup bed... I have NO idea!?!? Adrenaline?
2nd runner up?? A working lawnmower from the transfer station, that I thought I was going to have to clean the carburetor, but no... it had gas in it and started the first pull (after priming, which is why the previous owner couldn't get it to run and bought a new one instead)

Hundreds of dumpster dives, many hundreds more weekly trips to the transfer station returning with more (by weight usually) than I went with...
Cabinets, workbenches, materials (wood, metal, plastics, etc.)
Bricks, firebricks, pavers, flagstones, fieldstones, cobbles, and curbstone.
Patio furniture, fire pits, exercise equipment, free weights, cast iron pans (dozens)... a wine press (missing the basket)
Hardware, tools (brand new, good, unloved, and broken), electric motors, a miter saw, two bandsaws...
Two cement mixers, pallet jack, hand trucks (8 and counting... one really nice convertible Magliner ($250) that just needed a new nose ($40))

Now, Dale mentioned it before... (hauling an injured friend/employee out of a dumpster)
Dumpsters aren't very safe places to be inside of. Usually in desolate places without help to be cried for.
I rarely, almost NEVER, enter a dumpster alone. I'll fish something out with a stick, a rope, or a grabber...
Pre-pandemic days, it was usually a scout and return with a buddy sort of deal. Always with cell phone, and if a buddy wasn't along for the ride, he was "waiting by the phone" until he got an "I'm home safe" call.
 
pollinator
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Best? Four , full body, Mustang float/survival suits - dirty,yes, completely intact with functioning zippers and no holes, YES! Did/do I have a boat, nope - but found a super appreciative fisher family who were thrilled with the donation.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:
Dumpsters aren't very safe places to be inside of. Usually in desolate places without help to be cried for.
I rarely, almost NEVER, enter a dumpster alone. I'll fish something out with a stick, a rope, or a grabber...
Pre-pandemic days, it was usually a scout and return with a buddy sort of deal. Always with cell phone, and if a buddy wasn't along for the ride, he was "waiting by the phone" until he got an "I'm home safe" call.


I got hurt once, and have been incredibly careful since. I was alone, about 2 AM in February, cell phones were new, I had one that was less than a month old, and I left it in the car so I didn't lose it in the dumpster, took off my heavy coat so I could work easier. Hopped in, threw out what I was there for (a whole bunch of big appliance boxes) went to get out, and realized I had thrown out everything I could stand on, and I'm only 5 foot 2. There was no one around, it  wasn't near anyplace open, or any houses, it was getting colder, I got out. I ripped a muscle in my hip doing so, limped for several months.

Since then I don't go in. I carry multiple types of hooking and magnetic sticks, and a step stool. Won't make the same mistake twice. That could have been bad if I hadn't manged to get out. 8AM when they opened was a long time away.
 
pollinator
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When I lived in Germany, new GIs were constantly plugging thier Playstations and Xboxes into 220v and soon after throwing them into the dumpster. My buddy and me pulled at least 10 out, and replaced the fuse inside and sold them for $100 each!

And that's how was able to afford so much beer, sarn't.
 
Phil Swindler
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Dan Fish wrote:When I lived in Germany, new GIs were constantly plugging thier Playstations and Xboxes into 220v and soon after throwing them into the dumpster. My buddy and me pulled at least 10 out, and replaced the fuse inside and sold them for $100 each!

And that's how was able to afford so much beer, sarn't.



That's brilliant.
Good for you.
 
gardener
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Dan Fish wrote:When I lived in Germany, new GIs were constantly plugging thier Playstations and Xboxes into 220v and soon after throwing them into the dumpster. My buddy and me pulled at least 10 out, and replaced the fuse inside and sold them for $100 each!

And that's how was able to afford so much beer, sarn't.



SuhWeet!!

When we lived in Germany, there was a recycling center where anything was free for the taking. I got a sewing machine table, an almost new Nautica jacket, and the twisty-knob-switch thingy I needed to fix my table lamp. Once a year, our army post had "junken days" where you could put all your unwanted, big-ticket items out for free. Many items were still in good shape, so the "vultures" like me had a heydey! Microwaves were a dime a dozen out there. Most people brought over their 100v and tried the converter. But a 220v converter also switched the Hertz down to 50, so the clocks on the microwaves never kept the correct time. People would just chuck out their 110s and get a 220. But when they left back to the States, the 220s were no longer of any use, so those got sent to the recycling center too.

Our other favorite finds: Broyhill buffet, not a scratch on it. An Ethan Allen nightstand that needed to be refinished but still great bones. Tempered glass table tops, mattress frames (reused as angle iron), 10 inch cast iron skillet, dog kennel, crystal glassware, bucked up firewood, a computer desk, a 6-quart stockpot, the side burner to an old grill that we repurposed for the top of our rocket stove, a patio table, 2 chairs...and a BRAND NEW LAWN MOWER!! Someone couldn't get it to start, apparently, so they set it out with the trash can. Hubbie snagged it, cleaned out the fuel intake, and voila!! It's been running great ever since.

 
Steven Staley
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Dan Fish wrote:When I lived in Germany, new GIs were constantly plugging thier Playstations and Xboxes into 220v and soon after throwing them into the dumpster. My buddy and me pulled at least 10 out, and replaced the fuse inside and sold them for $100 each!

And that's how was able to afford so much beer, sarn't.



That story is akin to homeowners putting a push mower "on the curb" when it quits running. Someone else comes along and puts a spark plug in it and uses it or sells it.
 
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So my husband used to work on Hollywood movies and he once made a film with a scene that took place in a forest of burned trees, ash raining down.  So the location scouts found a real landscape of this type (sadly abundant right now in the US) but in the end decided to make a fake version on stage so it looked ‘even better than the real thing’.  🙄 Well my husband had to go buy a $5000 piece of light grid fabric for the effects and in the end only 2 minutes of filming survived to the final cut.  And that $5k light grid was headed for the garbage! Easier to throw away, they said! So it came to me as my husband was charged with ‘disposing of it properly’... ie: wife will repurpose this, I just know she will! Since then (this happened in about 2007 or so) I have made chicken pen tarps, various sized cloches, etcetera, basically all weird garden contraptions that I design on my own, taking cues from the ingenious Elliot Coleman and his work 4 season gardening in Maine.  So here is an example, this is my current cloche, made with plastic visqueen that was packaging for some furniture we purchased, sewn together with the light grid pre-grommeted for end caps.  PVC forms the arcs of the structure, which are encased in hems I sew on my basic sewing machine.  In a recent windstorm sporting 45mph steady winds with occasional gusts up to 60 (90mph clocked at the top of the local ski area) it stood up beautifully, literally did. not. budge. and all my tasty greens inside (redbor kale, broccoli dreaming of spring, electric lights chard, rocket arugula and simpson black seedes lettuces) were perfectly protected from the onslaught.  So, yeah, my 50’ x 50’ Hollywood Movie light grid from last decade has been a wonderful addition to my ‘gardening supply squirrel stash’ that has kept on giving for years.  “Disclaimer; No fake burned out forests were harmed in the creation of this repurposing” 🤣
43B3DAEB-1BC2-41FD-8301-20930D361962.jpeg
Cloche built from expensice hollywood movie light grid fabric
Cloche built from expensice hollywood movie light grid fabric
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January Cloche built with scraps from the rich man’s special effects!
January Cloche built with scraps from the rich man’s special effects!
 
Posts: 113
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Wow, ok... So many good things!
Furniture ofc. A haunted couch. A shelf that I'm still using nearly a decade later. Baby gates for days. 30lbs of nail gun nails. A small animal playpen. Water coolers. PVC shelfing. A $200 multi chamber compost tumbler. Rolls of chicken wire and deer netting complete with t-posts. Drop sided crib walls repurposed into gates or chicken ladders in their pen and baby changing tables into shelves in my garage.

So many people just throw things out but.... I always seem to find a use for them.
 
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I found some awesome metal buckets from a metal waste dumpster. I also find rocks and bricks for free in my yard. We have a drop off place in my city full of this stuff. I just go in and "shop".
 
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Hmm, in my case mostly plants (and I save their lives ), but my friend got some vintage designed chairs (but his wife told him she doesn't want to see them at home - she is afraid of bugs).
 
Posts: 542
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The things I'm getting aren't quite dumpster/junk finds, but they are free and "damaged".
I recently started a job with Orgill (a warehouse/distributor for home and garden stuff).  Things that get damaged get placed in totes that the employees are free to take home.
It's becoming a problem for me because I'm taking a bit too much "toxic gick" I think it's called on here.  Hoarding it almost.

In the last six months I've taken about a dozen gallons of dented paint cans.  From rusty metal primers to exterior latex paint.  I had lowes tint three gallons white, and they did it for free!  

About a dozen gallons of paint thinners/acetones/denatured alcohol, etc.  

About 20+ torn bags of potting soil.  I got three huge bags of the pro mix with the mychoriza ($50 a bag I think they sell for).

A bunch of bags of peat moss.  Guilt free, because it's not like I'm supporting the harvest of it.

Tons of cleaning supplies like bleach, simple green, etc.

Oh my gosh, 50+ tubes of caulking.  Roof repair, latex, silicone, etc.  I have enough caulk for the rest of my life.  lol

Edit, oh yeah, hundreds of pounds/bags of bird seed.  Thistle, sunflower, wild bird mix, etc.  I give the chickens a little bit as a treat and the rest my tenant has taken and used to feed the birds in the yard.  Unfortunately mostly sparrows eat it, and now there is a huge population of them.  I'd really like to build some nests for sparrow hawks soon.   I see them around here.  
Mourning doves, and I think an occasional cardinal stop by too.

It's there every day and it's hard to pass up.  I have slowed down quite a bit, but every time bagged soil is available I grab it and throw it in the raised beds.  The toxic stuff I pass up on unless I'm certain I will use it soon.  I have enough for now.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Yesterday, I spotted the power company unloading a whole load of small heavy duty pallets at the burn pile at our county dump.
After a quick chat with the attendant I went home and quickly returned with my pickup.
Almost twenty, 2' x 2.5' heavy duty pallets that had spools of wire originally on them.

Today, they are now a superb raised floor in the studio/greenhouse woodshed!
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[Thumbnail for 20210408_103203.jpg]
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[Thumbnail for 20210408_103129.jpg]
 
Lorinne Anderson
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I recently started a job with Orgill (a warehouse/distributor for home and garden stuff).  Things that get damaged get placed in totes that the employees are free to take home.



Perhaps the surplus could be diverted to local charities - or even start a company project that would directly divert it?

Local non-profit growers, allotments, community gardens could benefit from the toxic gick and soil/amendments if you end up with too much; wildlife rescue groups would love quality birdseed; these facilities always need garden and building (paint) supplies....I am sure there are a host of other non-profits who could also benefit, might even offer you a "donation in kind" receipt for tax purposes if you chose to collect the damaged stuff on their behalf, passing it on directly, skipping the company redirection path.  I know I would LOVE for those sorts of supplies to be donated!
 
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I shop the dump after dropping my stuff off.  My best score to date is two perfect "bronze" colored storm doors.  Glass and screens in place.  The metal pile is an amazing place.  I could spend an hour there.
 
Phil Swindler
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Remelle Burton wrote:I shop the dump after dropping my stuff off.  My best score to date is two perfect "bronze" colored storm doors.  Glass and screens in place.  The metal pile is an amazing place.  I could spend an hour there.



My brother in law used to work for the county.  They would check the land fill after Christmas.  The stuff they found would boggle the mind, often things still in the box.
 
pollinator
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About a decade ago I picked a Dyson DC07 vacuum cleaner out of the trash. Those things were over $350 new. Of course the filters on the vacuum needed a good cleaning when I got it, but after that it worked wonderfully and I am still using it to this day.
 
pollinator
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A full size flokati rug/bedspread in perfect shape except for a small section with gum on it.  Ice and peanut butter got it right out.  It lasted us over 30 years...  The cast iron skillet set we are still using.  They were so new there was no crust on them but had some rust.   Few days in a trash bag with ammonia and they were good as new.  That was in Germany in the late 70s.
Germany actually has "junking day"  you set things out you plan on trashing or no longer want and anyone can come along and pick them up.   Next day the trash trucks come by.  
 
author & master steward
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My husband pulled several of these blue trays from a dumpster years ago. They measure 31x32 inches and have been so useful! We use them in multiple ways.

Not sure of their original purpose
blue-tray-dumpster-find1.JPG
I use them as watering trays in hot weather for seed starts (the wood chips keep mosquitoes out of the water).
I use them as watering trays in hot weather for seed starts (the wood chips keep mosquitoes out of the water).
blue-tray-dumpster-find2.JPG
One blazingly hot summer the chickens were standing in their water dish to cool off, so we used one as a chicken wading pool.
One blazingly hot summer the chickens were standing in their water dish to cool off, so we used one as a chicken wading pool.
blue-tray-dumpster-find3.JPG
To catch stray kernels when shelling corn.
To catch stray kernels when shelling corn.
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As a little pig mud wallow.
As a little pig mud wallow.
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As a duck bath.
As a duck bath.
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Don't ask me. This was their idea.
Don't ask me. This was their idea.
blue-tray-dumpster-find7.JPG
Most recent use is for drying freshly made Fukuoka-style seed pellets
Most recent use is for drying freshly made Fukuoka-style seed pellets
 
Joshua Bertram
Posts: 542
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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So I posted above about this not being from a dumpster, but rather free stuff from work.  I put a bunch of it in a pile (the bird seed and at least 50 other bags of potting mix have been used up and are not in the pictures below).  A lot of toxic stuff that I can use and most people would definitely consider valuable.

I've been told many times that anything I take is for personal use only.  I'm a stickler for the rules, and am not donating or selling any of it.  I don't want to lose this awesome perk from my job.  

Again it's stuff that is damaged, so if a bag of potting soil gets a hole in it, they don't ship it out.  If one can out of a package of six gets damaged, they can't sell it so they give it to the employees.  The warehouse I work at receives one million dollars worth of product every day, and they ship out an equal one million dollars worth of product per day.  Last month I was told there were $30k dollars in damaged goods.  It's mind boggling, but they are booming, and doubling the size of the warehouse next year.  Crazy.

I also have a ton of paint and stuff I need to organize that isn't in the pictures below.

Any suggestions about the Alaska fish fertilizer BLOOM?  I was thinking it would be good for the tomatoes, etc, but reading online I saw it should only be used on flowers and that it's not organic?  I picked up three gallons of it last week and was really happy, now I'm not sure I want to use it.

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the bike and wheelbarrow I paid for, lol. Pretty much everything in the middle was free.
the bike and wheelbarrow I paid for, lol. Pretty much everything in the middle was free.
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Any thoughts on the Fish Fertilizer? Good? Bad?
Any thoughts on the Fish Fertilizer? Good? Bad?
 
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My sister works for a disaster cleanup company and a lot of stuff destined for the dumpster by the owner or insurance company is misdirected to the bed of her pick 'em up truck.
Her latest, and so far my favorite, haul was a whopper. A fire had broken out at this rich guys house. He was a major sportsman and had lots of smoke damaged stuff.
She kept a bunch of stuff for herself, gave my brother a very nice backpack with an installed quiver and gave me a 101 lbs thrust trolling motor that had been in the water 8 times, according to the owner. Additionally, I got a dozen boxes of 12 gauge shells, everything from 3.5" magnums steel shot to 2.75" bird shot. I got a case of 3.5" steel shot in 10 guage and 18 boxes of 20 gauge of various loads and lengths.
Other stuff recovered was a small generator, a bow, lots of clothes, fly rods, deep sea rod and reel...just a huge pile of sporting stuff for divied up amongst the crew.
 
Michael Dotson
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C Mouse wrote:A haunted couch.



I found this little tidbit in your post. How could you drop something as intriguing as this and not provide an explanation?
I'll take one for the team and ask How is your couch haunted?
 
I love a woman who dresses in stainless steel ... and carries tiny ads:
be paul's virtual assistant (VA)
https://permies.com/t/171193/paul-virtual-assistant-VA
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