The stuff our society has the gall to toss in the dumpster just amazes me. However, then I amaze myself by diving in the [metaphorical] dumpster and fishing that stuff right back out.

Kirk and I were hanging out with Mikey at her apartment in West Hollywood. Standing on her balcony lent a pretty nice view of downtown LA.

“I don’t know how that stuff ended up in our fridge. No way was I drinking that,” said Mikey.
“You deliberately left a 6-pack of Bud Light outside in the hallway for the taking?!” said Kirk, both mildly upset and thoroughly appalled.
“Yeah man. That stuff’s disgusting.”
“I can’t believe you.”
“It was gone in like 5 seconds too.”

Usually, when I’m “dumpster” diving, it’s cans and bottles that I’m after. No, you won’t find me on the sidewalk digging through trash receptacles. I’ll be in my own kitchen, going after recyclables that my roommates failed to sort out. I hate the thought of plastic buried in the ground, just sitting there twiddling its polyethylene thumbs, waiting for forever for nothing, because no number of eons will break down that crap. I feel responsible for maintaing efficiency in my household’s garbage output. Even if I didn’t eat that particular container of yogurt, I feel that I must make sure it gets recycled.

Ah, but the cans. Yes, the aluminum cans and glass bottles are the little gifts of the rubbish bin. Maybe it’s the idea of helping the Earth and getting back some change that has turned me into the garbage regulator. Maybe it’s because I’m from a non-deposit state (WI) and the novelty of living in a state that gives you money for those empty bottles and cans (MI and now CA) still hasn’t worn off. Either way, I really like returning my beverage containers. It’s thrilling for a poor environmentalist.

But, let’s get back to that “stuff” society was throwing out. We found it near the elevators of Mikey’s apartment building. One framed Fight Club poster. One curtain rod from World Market. And, one piece of framed art in which the frame was definitely worth more than the art.

“What the heck? This stuff is brand new! The curtain rod’s still in its box,” I said.
“Looks like somebody was moving out or something. Maybe couldn’t take it with,” said Mikey.
“So, it’s just gonna sit here?”
“I guess.”

We took it all.

Roommate Kyle didn’t know it then, but he’d later be gifted the sweet Fight Club poster. The frame of the framed art was determined to be the future container of one of Kirk and my favorite photos from our Australia trip (once we got around to getting one of those suckers enlarged and printed.) As for the curtain rod? Craigslist. Maybe we’d get 20 bucks. It was a nice curtain rod.

Now just one minute. This curtain rod was still in it’s box. It came from World Market, which we know, because it says so on the box. Why couldn’t we take it back to World Market… what’s the worst that could happen? We get store credit? Store credit at a store that sells pretty cool stuff… like BEER?!

Scratch craigslist. We took that thing back to World Market. And guess you what?

Yep. That would be 30 dollars! and 44 cents! for a silly curtain rod that we found abandoned in the hallway of an apartment building.

The cashier handed us the gift card. We turned right around and walked back into the store, grinning at each other like a couple of bandits.

Our Loot:

  • Sweet & Salty bag of Kettlecorn (some really tasty stuff, by the way)
  • Margarita Mix – all natural!
  • Blood Orange Soda (it’s half-empty because Kirk couldn’t wait to try it)
  • Double Chocolate Stout
  • 4-pack Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
  • Thai Spice Blend
  • Chicago Chop & Steak Seasoning
  • Faijita Seasoning Blend
  • Flask-shaped aluminum water bottle

Now that’s my kind of recycling. ☼