Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Trash Picking: The Expert's Guide

 [This is a guest post by Trash Picking Expert Amy of Trash Finds!]

'Tis the season......to totally SCORE with other people's cast-off's! In the spirit of giving, anticipation of receiving, hosting of gatherings, or people just having a little extra time at home to rid themselves of their unwanted items, December's trash offers an abundance of great finds!

It's also a good time for those that want to give trash picking a go, but just haven't been able to muster up the courage. Lots of finds, good will & a little added guilt by people throwing out very good, usable items, should help boost your confidence, your pride, and your luck with a few scores! Still feeling a little weird? Try cruising the trash under the guise that you're checking out Christmas lights & decorations!

If you're looking to find some festive decor on the cheap, keep an eye out now! As people start digging out their decorations, buying brand new ones or upgrading, perfectly usable decor goes to the curb or dumpster. Often if there is an issue with something, it could be as simple as changing a bulb, adding a drop of glue, or hammering in a nail. If you come across a box that just appears to be broken ornaments, take a closer look - most of the time it's only one or two & the rest are perfectly fine. For you crafty folks, it's a treasure trove of materials out there. Just as you would look things over & take precautions with any used or even new items, make sure to inspect your merchandise before using!

While the whole month of December is GREAT for picking, if you go out anytime after December 25th until January 1st, be forewarned when you get caught up in the moment & grab finds willy-nilly, your vehicle (or cart, wagon, bike basket) can fill up very quickly. Everyone's criteria (and space for finds...) is different, but anytime I trashpick I ask myself the following questions when I find an item:

#1 - Do I like it?

#2 - Do I know anyone looking for this?

#3 - Can I sell it? (for me, that applies to my spot at the antique store & when I do yard sales/flea markets)

#4 - If I don't sell it, is it good enough to donate to a thrift store, non-profit org, Freecycle, or put on Craigslist?

#5 - Do I have any projects I'm working on that I can use parts of it?

There are finds to be had throughout the year, however, the abundance of Christmas discards is dumbfounding. Every year along with the used, I find new appliances in boxes, clothes with sales tags still on them, home accessories, holiday gifts & personal care items still shrink-wrapped. I may not know why new items end up in the trash alongside quality used, vintage, or stuff that just needs a little TLC, but I do know I'll be out cruising for cast-offs, ready to find them a home! Good luck & happy hunting!

Do You Trash Pick During the Holidays? What are YOUR Tips?
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  1. I haven't deliberately gone looking thru trash, but we've found some stuff on the curb unintentionally. Best was an Eames blue vinyl shell office chair! The competition here seems to be quite high, there are lots of pickers cruising around on trash days. Where we used to live, the city also had a yearly "Everything Goes Day" - where people would put tons of stuff out on the sidewalk. But didn't get a chance to go picking before they got rid of that special day.

  2. I need to arrange a special day like that in my neighborhood! I want to pick more, but I have a small car and limited space. I usually see furniture I like and it's torture that I can't bring it with me! Need a new vehicle to suit my picker lifestyle :)

  3. Great points, all! It's definitely the case that people have a tendency to throw out something like an entire box of Christmas ornaments when only a few are broken.

    The "Try cruising the trash under the guise that you're checking out Christmas lights & decorations!" made me giggle.

  4. Alyssa: That was my favorite tip! I will have to try that one- bundled up, because it's cold even down here in Florida!

  5. wear sturdy shoes, our alleys are very icy at the moment!

    yesterday I found a Turner wall accessory--a mirrored shadow box that you might mount behind a sofa, always wanted one!


  6. For us it is not such a great time of year.
    Besides having to climb over snow piles and brave frigid winds, anything left out too long is usually soaked and possibly frozen to the ground.

  7. I know trash digging is looked down on by so many folks but I've found a lot of good stuff. New stuff thrown out by some girlfriend kicking her boyfriend out or something. Not really, but who knows why this stuff ends up in the trash but it does and we are just doing the environment a favor by reusing and recycling.


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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