One person’s trash…

…is another’s treasure.

It never ceases to amaze me how much perfectly good stuff ends up in the trash.  For example, my husband (I’ll call him SilverBeard) took a bag of legitimate garbage to the dumpster in our apartment complex last week…and walked back in with a very nice lamp.

“Where did that come from?” I asked.

“Sitting right on top of the trash in the dumpster,” said SilverBeard.  “Looks just fine.”

Indeed, it was just fine.  A little bit of wiping down with a damp cloth and the insertion of a new light bulb and voila!  Let there be light!  However, we have all the light we need, so we gave the lamp to some friends in need of more light in their lives (or at least in their home).

What I cannot understand is what my neighbor (whoever it may have been) was thinking when he or she chucked a perfectly good lamp in the trash – particularly when there is a thrift store 6 blocks from here.  What, too far to drive?  Or simply unconcerned about throwing a perfectly good, working lamp away when maybe someone else could benefit from it?  I suspect it’s good ol’ American consumerism combined with an unhealthy dose of apathy.  “Meh…out with the old, in with the new.  Throw it away.  Who cares?”

Where, exactly, is away?  A year-and-a-half ago we found a low drop-leaf end-table that now sits at the foot of the bed and doubles as an art table or a surface to put clean laundry on in order to fold it.  Several months ago we found FIVE perfectly good, sturdy wooden chairs sitting by a dumpster outside a daycare center.  We put them to good use.  A month ago we found a complete dining set in the front yard of an abandoned house.  A friend with an extremely limited budget happened to be in need of a dining set, so we dismantled the table right there and then and hauled the entire set away in 4 separate trips (one does wish for a pickup truck on these occasions, but one must do one’s best with what one has).  A little cleanup and a nice tablecloth from the aforementioned thrift store nearby and you’d never know it was someone else’s castoffs.

And those are but a few examples.  Our history of thrift store bargain hunting, dumpster diving, and roadside scavenging goes way back.  Most of what we own is second hand, from clothing to furniture to our car.  There’s simply no justification for paying some ridiculously inflated price for something brand new when something just as good for less than half the price can usually be found.  Sometimes less than a quarter of the price.  With the exception of mattresses, underwear and software, pretty much everything you could possibly need can be purchased second hand – or picked up for free off the side of the road.

I’ve often joked that my home decor could be described as Early Back Porch meets Trading Post with a dose of Romper Room.  Horrifying?  Maybe if you’re into that whole “decorating theme” thing.  For us, it’s warm, inviting, eclectic, and full of character.  It’ll never make the cover of “House Beautiful,” but then, I’ve never seen a room on the cover of that magazine that looks as if you’re allowed to sit on the furniture, much less (gasp, the horror!) put up your feet and relax with a mug of hot chocolate in your hand.

Yes, in addition to being warm, inviting, eclectic, and full of character, it’s all washable.  With a cat that vomits his weight in fur on a weekly basis, it better be washable!

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