So here’s a little about my trashpicking strategy. First & foremost, I know the trash days (and laws about) for all the towns in my ‘route’. I prefer picking during the day, for what are at least to me, obvious reasons – better light, more trash out, avoids the ‘suspicious’ car stopping after dark in front of people’s houses…. However, I totally understand those who are a little uncomfortable with being so out in the open with picking. I used to be like that….not that it would stop me, but I was certainly inhibited & limited with finding stuff. If someone were outside working in their yard (or even their neighbor), I wouldn’t stop – no matter how good the find…of course, if it were THAT great of a find, I would cruise by later, after everyone was inside, hoping it was still there. Now, I realize, that a lot of people are thrilled when I pick something from their trash that is still usable (the waste still boggles my mind, but, that’s for a different post…). Often, they’ll offer to help me load a larger item into my truck, or even mention & bring out other stuff they hadn’t gotten out to the trash yet (ahh…..full-service trash). In those instances, if it’s only a few items, I take whatever they bring out, since they were so helpful & it’s just the polite thing to do. If I really can’t use it, I’ll match it up with someone who can, throw it in a yard sale, or put it out at my trash (my boyfriend jokes that if people see something out in my trash, then it must REALLY be trash…accurate, most of the time, but it is so rare something usable gets into my trash).
My work day starts at 8am and I live two miles from where I work. Depending on the day & area, I’ll try to get out by 7:15. If I haven’t picked in awhile, I’m out by 7am. Awhile can vary – usually a few weeks for me. The biggest factor is usually space, so if I’ve fallen behind on organizing, selling, giving away, etc found items, I have to hold off cruising…(I don’t go out EVERY day – I mean, my house can only hold so much). I can’t pick everything still really usable up (oh, but if I could…) & it is really difficult leaving some of the larger items behind. I live in a solid, sub-urban area. While I’m not in one, tons of cookie-cutter developments have built up around me, which gives an awesome amount of finds with very little driving. The only real drawback for me picking in the morning, is when I encounter kids waiting at their bus stop or walking/riding their bike to school. The last thing I want to do is freak out a kid when I slowly pull up within a few feet of them.
The argument could be made, that by driving around looking for trash is counterproductive in the ‘green’ department, but my routes are within a five mile radius. Additionally, how far (and often) does the average person drive to buy something in a store that is already available – with a little planning – in the trash? I consider ‘anticipated needs’ (and of course, actual requests from friends, family & co-workers) when trashpicking. For example, when I knew my microwave was probably winding down, I kept an eye out for one, and within two weeks found one that fit the bill (the previous owner even stuck the manual inside!). I don’t know if it’s intuition or experience with finds over the years, but I’m also pretty good at knowing if an appliance in the trash is still in good working condition. Which means, it’s rare that I get an appliance, take it home, and find that it doesn’t work.
Yes, trashpicking is taboo for many people, however, most people know someone (or knows someone who knows someone) that trashpicks. My suggestion, is don’t be afraid to let them know when you’re looking for something. There is so much we have to pass over & I always think, ‘Man, if I knew someone who was looking for that, I’d grab it’. Let me tell you, most pickers are thrilled when someone lets us know they are looking for something & asks us to keep an eye out. Additionally, when people know you’ll take pretty much anything they want to get rid of, the floodgates are opened & just about everything comes your way. A few times a week, I often have a conversation that starts with someone saying to me, ‘Hey, I have (enter item here), and there’s nothing wrong with it. Do you know anyone that can use it, or can you take it?’ . Who doesn’t like to be recognized for their ‘talent’?
Until next time, happy picking!