I really wasn’t dumpster diving, officer

A few months after we moved to Boulder, I was informed by sage, experienced people of the wonders of dumpster diving at the end of Spring semester. When all the students go back to their moms and dads for the summer. I heard fanciful stories that instead of giving stuff away or selling it, students just put all their things in the dumpsters, including unused detergent, soap, lightbulbs, etc.

At first I thought eww. Because dumpsters in Australia are so filthy even the most hardened drunk won’t venture into them. And I’m not ‘that’ person.

But as time wore on, and I guess as I saw more and more of the type of behaviour the students here have, I thought it would be worth ‘having a look’. And now we’re moving to a larger place (yay) where nothing other than the house is rented (fail), it’s time I got stuff like bookcases, desks, cutlery, linen and stuff. (Please note: most some of these I would not get from a dumpster. Even I have limits.)

Giving the coathangers a second chance. Life's tough.

So last weekend Elisabeth and I went out. For a drive. Down some alleys. To sight see. (This may or may not be related to the fact that the local newspaper ran a story on how it is illegal to take things from dumpsters. So we were ensuring we weren’t going to do anything illegal – like recycling stuff people were throwing into landfill – because that would be bad. You’re welcome, Boulder sheriffs.)

Coathanger rescue is socially responsible

Funnily enough, on our sightseeing tour of the alleys of Boulder, we came across a mass of coathangers. Just sitting next to a dumpster. That’s totally NOT dumpster diving, and coathangers appear to eat each other in our houses, so we liberated these from the alley. You’re welcome, alley.

Whoops! Elisabeth nearly falling into a dumpster. (Yes, this was posed, officer. But it's okay because it's awesome.)

And then we continued our sightseeing (because you know, it’s a side of Boulder I had not seen yet and as a startup mum I’m always one step away from living in an alley), and before Miami car accident lawyers could warn her of it being directly in her way, and possibly because she was distracted by her constant talking, Elisabeth tripped and nearly fell into a dumpster.

It was just craziness – how irresponsible, leaving the dumpster right where anyone could just trip into it. What is this world coming to? I was very worried, so I got up there too – but I didn’t fall in. Because I’m smart. I held onto the edge. And guess what?

Insanely, someone had obviously accidentally thrown out about 50 brand new tshirts all still in their folded sizes, 10 XBox front covers (still in packaging), 6 very nice yellow satchels still in their brand new packaging, hundreds of packaged EA sponsored CU Buffs banners and about two billion brand new library bags – all branded EA Sports.

So we liberated this brand new, still in its original packaging stuff. It literally filled my (rental) car boot. Did I already say it was brand new? We kept a few for personal use, and put the rest into a donation bin for abused and neglected children – which is where they should have been put in the first place. You can see about half of it (yes, just half of it) in the featured pic. Jed asked me why I did this. I told him I kind of have an issue with people not recycling, but I have an even bigger issue with things going straight from the factory line into landfill.

I’m sure the person who put them in the dumpster probably was on their way to one of the many donation bins around Boulder, but fell into the dangerously placed dumpster with them, just like Elisabeth did, and needed to let all this brand new stuff go so the person could scramble to safety. That’s totally understandable. (Oh, and there was also a small black coffee table in there. So we liberated that too. It now is in our little loungeroom and holds all our game gear.)

Nice coffee table that someone accidentally left in the same dumpster. (Picture entirely posed, officer. I swear.)

We were invigorated outraged by this experience, so we thought we’d check to see if other dumpsters or things around them looked dangerous. So we could warn people or fix it. Because we are nice people and that’s just how we roll. We were also rolling around not smelling so great. So, I was also counting down the time before I could get to my OdorKlenz Sports Odor Eliminator.

Why Craigslist is helping the world be socially responsible

I’d seen an ad in the Free section on Craigslist (which is like the Trading Post for Aussies, but it’s entirely online, and in fact Craigslist exists in Australia but nobody really knows about it) for a couch someone was throwing out, so we used the reliable GPS (rather than the unreliable Elisabeth’s memory for directions to streets – it’s Pearl, then Spruce, then Pine, woman!) to find out whether the couch was liberated or not. It had been so we were happy, thinking of the couch being set free, loved, somewhere. But right near where the couch had been (and totally not in a dumpster because they were too big) were a very nice large IKEA bookcase, and a tv set with remote taped to the top, and a sign that said “Free. Still working well.” (The sign was on the TV, because of course the bookcase didn’t need a sign. It was obvious that it worked. Maybe you don’t need this kind of explanation.) Well, to leave them behind was inhumane. So then the car was full.

Then I came home and got a little itchy which could totally have been my brain working overtime thinking of little things you need a microscope to see that bite a lot and leave you with an illness, which might explain the big headache I had this week. But I had a shower and washed my clothes and now I wasn’t itchy any more. So maybe the headache is an aneurysm after all, because I had that all week. But I don’t have it now. So maybe it’s only an aneurysm from Monday to Friday. I don’t know. I’ll have to think that through a some more.

Where are they now?

The TV. Which is obviously not in a dumpster.

Until we move next month, the tv is sitting on the floor in the middle of our little loungeroom. Which is not ideal, but in another way it kind of is. Because it is in the way of the tv we currently use and the signal from the remote doesn’t read if you’re sitting on the couch. Which of course, you always are if you’re watching tv. But I’m not moving it because it’s fun to watch family members try to make the signal reach the tv without getting off their butts, by waving their arms around and swearing a lot. It’s better than the show they’re trying to tune to. And that crap’s why I know God exists.

By the way, on a serious note: If you are Electronic Arts, then you should know that someone who obviously worked for you, probably in promotions, and lived in Boulder threw a mass load of your branded stuff into landfill. That’s a freaking massive fail. And if you’re that person, you should be banned from living in Boulder. You’re anti-Boulder. And, by the way, so is the ridiculous rule of Boulder authorities that says we can’t recycle other people’s things. It’s anti-everything good. You might want to rethink that.


  • I am glad to hear that the couch was liberated. You have to watch though. There are some rogue groups in town that purport to liberating things only to set them on fire during the upcoming fall rush. A note to those that are looking to truly set a sofa free it should be donated to a reputable Couch Rescue program. Make sure to check their references and that past couches are being properly used and well placed in front of a TV.

  • Hi Larry! I’ve heard those horrible stories about burning innocent couches. You mean they’re true? There should totally be a show on that. Like Cops. Or Couch Rescue. That would be so good. It would be worth waving my arm around to get the signal through so I could watch that. Totally better than a Friends re-run. And I’ll take your tip to ask for references from couch relocation authorities. I want to see pictures of happy couches in their new homes.

  • Maybe you’d like Zwaggle.com It’s socially and environmentally responsible too–and totally legal (even in Boulder.)

  • Dignity | Mediamum

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