Jan 26 2011

recycle freecycle [day 246]

Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can.  From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago.  Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.

A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle.  One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch.  I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade.  This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now.  The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase.  I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.

I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore.  Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy.  I had some fence boards that I had no place to store.  Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence.  Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill.   Continue reading


Dec 26 2010

returns [day 212]

It’s the day after Christmas, the day where everyone returns the gifts they don’t want.  I gave myself a Christmas gift yesterday, and that gift was to take a day off of blogging.  I’m a couple of days behind and will get caught up.

I did go dumpster diving on Christmas day.  It was way too cold to be doing this, so I only hit a couple of them, but I did find some interesting things.  I found one full of books, CD’s and DVD’s.  The sad part about it, is that most of this could have been placed in a recycling bin, not a trash bin.

At least if I don’t like the stuff, it’s easy to return.  :)  The fact that return lines are longer than purchasing lines, the day after Christmas, supports the theory that not only do people not need all this stuff, they don’t want most of it either.  I guess I should go diving in residential trash bins, although I hope the unwanted things make it to a thrift store.


Dec 22 2010

white elephant gifts [day 209]

As usual, I had to look up some information on this.  The white elephant gift exchange is defined on Wikipedia like this:

white elephant gift exchange is a popular holiday party game found primarily in North America. It has many variations in both the name and the game play. Generally, white elephant parties need a minimum of six participants. With a larger group, game play may be more protracted. White elephant parties have been known to result in intensely vicious and/or playful rivalries between players trying to get sought after gifts. The goal of a white elephant party is usually to entertain rather than to gain. This game is sometimes called a Yankee Swap, Chinese Gift Exchange, Dirty Santa, Thieving Secret Santa, or Parcel Pass.

I think the key phrase here is the goal, it’s to entertain rather than gain.  The term white elephant is defined as:

white elephant is an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

Most white elephant gifts I’ve seen don’t completely fit that description, but most are useless or outdated.  Here’s a few gifts from a white elephant gift exchange I participated in about a week ago.  Continue reading


Dec 13 2010

I've saved a lot of money, but that wasn't why I did it [day 201]

I’m speaking tonight at Preston Trail Community Church, in the Financial Peace University class, about the “no retail” shopping challenge.  I didn’t start this to save money, but it did turn out to be a nice benefit.  Here’s a recap of the posts from the last 200 days that have to do with saving money and thinking differently.  Enjoy & save!!

Basic & small money saving tips

A money lesson from Barbie. [day 198] – You can learn a lot for a dummy, I mean a Barbie.  This has tips on teaching your kids about money, and even though it’s Barbie, it’s good for boys or girls.

Saving electricity [day 191] – It’s a small thing, but these add up, as my last utility bill was $52.01 on a 100% renewable energy plan, 1,780 square foot house with huge vaulted ceilings and 16 year old appliances.

White elephant gifts [trashogram] – Give it away or trade it.

Junk drawer [trashogram] – You know there’s money there and also in your couch cushions.  It’s not collecting interest, that’s dust.

Made in China [day 176] – Know the difference between cheap and frugal.

To buy or not to buy? [day 167] – Kids spending money and get a small loan, because your going to the movies and buying popcorn.

Ask the chickens [day 162] – Expiration dates and tips on not being wasteful.

Fine!  Dress me up like a fairy princess! [day 161] – Tips on thrift store clothing shopping.

Shopping tips [day 160] – We’ve been subconsciously trained by little yellow tags.  Buyer beware.  Continue reading


Dec 11 2010

AWESOME dumpster diving video! [day 199]

This video was created for a school project by a student at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania for a Physics of Energy and the Environment class.  It’s a wonderful video on the how-to’s of dumpster diving with some alarming statistics.  Check it out.  It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.


Nov 13 2010

black friday shopping: the new olympic sport [day 170]

Okay, so it’s not an olympic sport… yet.  I do however, find this black friday business very interesting.  The idea for this blog post started with an article I found in a local magazine, called Black Friday: Survival Tips.  Please understand, if you choose to participate in this sport, I’m not saying it’s bad, this might just be another way to look at it.

Black Friday, ironically a name associated with financial crisis, started back in the mid 60’s and has become a cultural icon of holiday shopping addiction.  “Door busters” is another iconic shopping term, born out of the black friday marketing efforts of the major retailers.  Back in 2008, a WalMart employee was trampled to death by a black friday door buster event.  Is this really what its come to?

Back in 1993, I worked as a manager for Toys R Us in Miami, Florida.  This was during the Power Rangers craze, where people would line up outside the doors, knowing the the shipment came in the night before.  At opening, two people had to unlock the doors, simultaneously at the count of three, then run to paste their bodies as close to the wall as possible, as to not get trampled by the insane crowd pushing their way into the store.  I only wish I had saved the security tape where we recorded this, as it’s hard to put into words.  I also remember calling the police several times a week to break up a fist fight between parents fighting over the last of some random toy that is probably in a landfill by now.   Continue reading


Sep 23 2010

pulling food out of the trash? [day 120]

For some people, that’s a completely insane question.  After all, who would pull food out of a trash can?  Especially if you don’t need it?

Well, someone I know did just that.  To protect my friend, who did what I probably would have done, I will change some the details in this story or be very generic in my descriptions.

After a large meeting, where they sometimes bring food, my friend saw someone throw away a plastic tray full of McDonald’s breakfast burritos.  Several minutes after the person walked away, my friend, still bothered by the wasteful act, looked around to see if anyone was looking, and when they weren’t, pulled them out of the trash.  My friend gave me the tray and told me the story.

Would you eat one of these? I did.  Yes, they were sitting on top of the trash, but protected in a thick, plastic bubble.  I really don’t care for McDonald’s food, nor do I like to eat food with meat in it, but I ate one because I dislike waste WAY more. Continue reading


Sep 18 2010

labeled: TRASH [day 115]

Dumpster diving.  I have to say, I really love those two words together.  It never ceases to amaze me what retailers will throw away, expensive stuff, stuff that could be used elsewhere or repurposed.  The corporate blockheads force them to throw everything away versus giving it away.  The logic?  If you ask the people in the stores why they pitch perfectly good items in the trash, the response will be something along the lines of, “…the corporate office told us we have to…”

I went dumpster diving a few months ago behind Target.  They had the largest trash dumpster / container possible and it was starting to overflow.  I’m guessing they might have been doing a remodel, however I’ve seen this large container return on a regular basis.  Scheduled waste?  Take a look at the few pics I took.

Fixtures & more…

Continue reading


Jul 26 2010

surrounded by trash [day 60]

We had our light painting photo safari last night.  If you want to entertain a bunch of kids, give them a box of toys and some flashlights.  If you want to entertain a bunch of adults, give them the same stuff, but add a camera.

So what does this have to do with trash society?  Many things.  First, it’s a great way to have some family and friends time without spending money.  We play with toys we already have and share our cameras for those who don’t have one.  You can see all the pics from this shoot on flickr.

Second, we always find trash.  Sadly, we are surrounded by trash.  It’s so blended into our lives that sometimes we don’t even see it.

A white picket fence… the American dream?  (I took the ‘green bag’ pictured on the left)

I have this quirky feature I just discovered about myself.  I’m always looking down when I walk and I subconsciously look for stuff.  While on vacation, I found a guys wallet stuffed with cash.  I did get it back to the owner.  I found a computer cable, in the dark, on the floor at work.  I always find stuff on the ground.  I have no idea when I started this or why, but I’ll work it to my art.  Last night, I found some trash on the ground and decided to use it in a few photos:

This became a good opportunity for some ‘trash awareness’ with the kids.  We kept the little plastic mountain, probably a piece of a milk jug.

Third, we can teach the kids about art and making statements with the things around them.  We might bring props, but how do they fit into their surroundings?  The above photos are disturbingly reflective of our society and I’ve titled them ‘Protect the Plastic‘.  Kids are the future and what we teach them now will mold their core values.

There are probably many more things here, but those are the highlights.  If you would like to join in on a photo safari, join our Facebook group.

What things do you do to help lessen trash production?  This challenge of not shopping retail has helped me.  Less stuff, less impulse buys, less trash.  :)


Jun 28 2010

the challenge: day 32 [dumpster diving]

I have taken dumpster diving to a whole new level.  I was leaving church after work and happened to glance over at the dumpster.  Sitting right on top were 6 really nice sofa/chair cushions!  I’m not talking about those cheap crappy ones either, I’m talking nice ones, the kind that sell for $80 a piece!  I’m pretty sure I ran to the dumpster, you know, just in case anyone else was eyeing my treasure.  I dove in and started unloading my cushions, and when I looked up to get out, I had an audience.  “Look, Jody’s in the dumpster!”  Yes.  Jody can be found in any dumpster that has useable stuff in it.

Now some of you might be wondering if I was embarrassed.  The answer is yes, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.  I’m not at all ashamed to be caught in a dumpster, I’m ashamed that there was useable stuff that was carelessly discarded.  All it takes is a phone call to a local thrift store.  They will gladly come pick things up from businesses or residences FREE of charge.  The donations sometimes go directly to people in need or sold to financially help impoverished people.

Lori was leaving work today and also found a treasure, two nice indoor/outdoor rugs.  If the rain holds off, I’ll go dig out the other good stuff and take it to the thrift store.