Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bag it

Today I made a pledge to myself to stop buying plastic whenever an alternative exists. I will bring my own bags to the grocery store religiously, I will avoid drinks that come in plastic bottles and I will no longer purchase cello-wraped vegetables from the supermarket. I wish I could eliminate plastics all together but it has become ingrained in our culture too deeply. But I vow to do my best from this day forth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Toxic Garbage Island

As we all know, not all of our garbage ends up in the landfill. Check these videos out...


Where does it come from,
The things we think we must have?
And where does it go?

Please feel free to add your own Garbage Haiku in the comments section of this post, 5-7-5.

Handy gear for Diving in

I had a friend ask me the other day what I wear when I set out to scavenge treasures. The obvious answer… “Clothes!” It really doesn’t matter what you wear when you go diving but here are some items you may want to consider bringing with.

Probably your most important choice would be a good pair of steel-toed boots. The kind with a steel shank is best as many skips contain broken glass, nails, and an array of other sharp objects. Most often, you dive in foot first so protect your little pigs.
Gloves are another important article to consider. Many people will choose a pair of thick leather gloves however if you’re vegan, as I am, you can pick up a good pair of fitted work gloves. These gloves have a thick poly/foam coating on the inside and breathable cotton tops to allow your hands to breath. They also have the added benefit of being machine washable for when the deed is done.

A stick. Though not a necessity I find a stick with a bent nail in the end is a great way to explore the inside of a skip without having to actually dive in. This tool has the added benefit of doubling as a means of intimidation if any thugs should decide to give you a rough time in a darkened alley.

A milk crate. These aren’t always that easy to find but if you do stumble upon one this can truly be a lifesaver. The depth of a dumpster can sometimes be deceiving and before you know it, you find yourself at the bottom with no way to climb out. Having a crate to stand on can sometimes make up for any vertical shortcomings. This is also a pretty good reason you should bring a friend.

Lastly dress for the mess. Dumpsters are by no means a sterile environment. Dress warm and dress in that which you may eventually throw in a dumpster yourself. No sense in taking the chance you won’t get any on you, cause you will.

Here are some other items that come in handy… A draw string bag you can attach to your beltloop for packing out small items, a flashlight is a great companion - bring extra batteries, a locking jack-knife, and side cutters.
So, with your new attire and you arsenal of important items set forth and have fun, just keep in mind these basic rules while hunting…

Safety - You want to live to tell your friends about your treasure.
Ethics - Leave the area cleaner than when you arrived and always respect public and private property
Educate - Increase awareness with yourself and others.
Pride - When approached remain confident, you have nothing to hide.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Starting To Gain Interest

Well I’ve returned from another Sunday trip to the landfill and the family is starting to gain some interest in the things I’m finding.

I can recall a trip to the landfill with my father when I was about three years old. The appearance of an alien landscape the sweat smell of decay and the excitement of being somewhere new. The thing I recall most of this day was a small metal army vehicle that I had discovered half buried in the clay. It had been driven over and the back wheels were nowhere to be found. This was not a pristine find however I was determined to make it my own. I remember asking my father, “Can I keep it dad? Please!” His reply was something like, “No, you don’t want that piece of junk it’s filthy, and its broken. Throw it back.” I don’t fault my father for this response nor do I see this as a scaring moment that hurts to this day. No, I think my father’s response is very typical of the culture we live in. “It’s broken, then through it out” has replaced the time honored “It’s broken, then fix it”.
Here is a selection of the items after they have been cleaned up. 56 washable felt pens, a wooden car, various shaped wooden blocks, a couple dinky cars, some toy tools, a staple remover, some jewelery, a hard hat for the tickle trunk, some nesting dishes, a brand new tool box with inside tote, and three barbi dolls one of which is circa 1966. There were other items found this trip too but I'll add them to a future post.

Even the boy is enjoying the reclaimed items.

Watching my daughters eyes light up when she sees the hoard of reclaimed objects being inventoried has reminded me how we often take the things we have for granted. I want to instill in my children a sense of right and wrong and I want them to see the true value of all things.

The Beginning

As of late trash has become an obsession of mine. It all started a month ago when a good friend suggested I join him on a trip to the local dump. We knew the dump would be closed but it didn't matter as we weren't making the trip to deposit our previously consumed items we were on a mission to unearth hidden treasures. I was skeptical and reluctant at first and my willingness to climb into the dumpsters was only overcome by the prospect of a good find. Before long I was knee deep in it and came away with a few great items.

A modest haul for my first scavenging trip. The side cutters still had the tag on them and work great. The tool belt was in great shape and even came with a pocket full of nails. I grabbed the insides out of an old lamp with hopes to someday build my own. The candle holder was cute and I thought it could be a component to a gift. The milk crate, well we'll get to that later.

After the first trip I found myself thinking of all the possibilities and started plotting my next logical step. Research seemed like the way to go so I made an excursion to the local library and searched for anything and everything to do with garbage, trash, recycling, found object art, the environment, and on and on. I was dissatisfied with the selection before me so I enlisted the help of a couple skilled librarians, unfortunately their national search engines didn’t turn up much more than what we had in front of us. Upon returning home I searched the internet for references on these topics, you don’t want to know what the word “trash” turned up. After a few long hours I decided it wasn’t the way I was searching that was holding me back. The reality is, there just isn’t much out there to find. This is when I decided it was time to start blogging.