Dumpster Diving

I have to admit two things which probably make my wife Megan slightly worried about me. One, I’m a bit of a pack rat, I do try to organize; lately I have been putting up all sorts of shelving in our garage (using salvaged wood from an old desk me and my Dad built way back in 2005, and also some wood from cabinets I pulled from the dumpster at the back of my workplace.) And two, I dumpster dive almost every week.

I know it worries Megan, and yes when I take more than a second look at fun looking things poking from our neighbors trash cans when we walk our dogs it does embarrass her. (Sorry honey! and no, I didn’t manage to get that scooter out, it was wedged under a bunch of crap.) I really am sorry for that, but you have to understand I’ve loved junk ever since I was a small boy.

I collected old computers, bits of stereos, VCRS, old engines from lawn edgers, anything I could get my hands on. I think its how a boy learns about the world; a large percentage of it is from discarded technology, an old this or that.
Truth is, I’ve not shaken the bug yet.

Yesterday I watched a guy toss away what looked like tubing into the dumpster at work. Low and behold it was, soda fountain grade tubing of many lengths (useful 5ft lengths!) brand new, un-used in many colors, sizes and types. I couldn’t help myself. Well, actually I did. When I look at it I see potential; water cooling ? rainwater harvesting ? irrigation ? and its free !

I know Megan doesn’t begrudge me this too much, as it keeps me busy, and also keeps me from spending too much money πŸ™‚

It also still helps me learn to this day. The guy next door is a TV service repair man and I find the most wonderful source of discarded electronics and other useful gubbins out back. I had no idea how a DLP (Digital Light Processor) TV worked until I found an old color wheel, had no idea what it was and researched it online.
An un-ending supply of capacitors and resistors and other bits & bobs is to be had almost every other week. Only one or two components on the board are bad, but they have to chuck the whole thing.
Optics too; occasionally an old projection TV may be sitting back there. I ended up with a multitude of projection lenses, color filters and a huge rhomboid mirror ! Fun to play with for sure πŸ™‚

I’m a kid at heart, but my toys are cheap or mostly free !

7 thoughts on “Dumpster Diving

  1. Nice.

    I’m the same way. Perhaps not so much on the dumpster diving tip, but things like non-functional electronics, oddball car parts, I just hang onto them. All neatly ordered (hey, that pile is neat), there’s just so many times when I’m holding a piece of broke-down junk in my hand and I’m reminded of the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind – “This is important. This means something.” I might be able to use this for something one day.

    For some, it’s a disgusting habit of a true cheapskate (or crackhead). I tend to see it as a person who is optimistic about the future. The trick is, how do we take our ability to view garbage as having potential use, and convert that to how we view people?

  2. haha..I should have known you would discuss your ‘habit’…Saving things that other people throw out isn’t a huge problem…it is when you have to go rifling through the neighbor’s trash because you see a bit of something sticking out that ‘just might be a treasure’…and I really cannot envision you riding on one of those dumb scooters for 5 year olds…honey, we have bikes (and do recall, yours came from next to the dumpster at my old apartment), so I let you keep things that truly have a purpose πŸ™‚

  3. But Megan! Dave would be such a stud riding around on a minibike/scooter-type thing! He could get a little trailer to tow behind it, which he could fill with treasure! How awesome would *that* be, right?


    I do subscribe to saving things with possible relevance at some point in the future, though. I mean, I might be able to use some of the resistors or capacitors or whateveritors on a janky VCR circuit board in the future, but what am I going to be building that would need them? And considering they’re pennies apiece brand new, what is the value of the time I’d spend poring over the junk boards testing components to find the one I need?

    Still, it still bothers me that I “just threw away” that perfectly functional digital cable box with nothing wrong after nobody took me up on the “FREE” sign I parked on it for a week on the curb.


  4. Hah, my time is worth almost nothing. lol.
    Yeah, I think its just the fact it bothers me to see it wasted. I just *know* there are things I can build (mini rail gun ? taser ? tesla coil ?) not all of which involve hurting myself πŸ™‚ and are pointless.
    At some point its almost like collecting trading cards #crazy πŸ™‚

    And as for aluminum cans, look at what I could do with those AND hurt myself with in the process: http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/ πŸ˜€

  5. You two are funny! I think half the battle is recognizing that parts and pieces can be re-used…but I also like to walk through a room without tripping on piles of ‘treasure’, so who knows what the middle ground is?!

  6. Middle ground is probably about the happy medium between collecting “treasure” (I love calling it that, btw) and actually using it. If you’re consistently using the stuff you find as much as you’re using it, then it’s probably a healthy thing. If not, well…

  7. maybe I should be in therapy then … lol
    One day all the crap I don’t use will go to the recycling center. Better than the land fill fwiw.

    /off to instructables.com πŸ˜€

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