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Dumpster diving … and proud of it

Being fifty-something, I’m honest enough to admit I have dived into a dumpster or two.

I know it’s not everybody’s “normal” but it’s worked for me.

I’m not a serial dumpster diver. I prefer to think of it as opportunist diving rather than intent-based diving. Just now and again, when the situation demands it.

I discovered my laundry basket in a skip just a few doors away from home. Quite unexpectedly, on a sunny Sunday morning. Broad daylight. The basket had a broken handle, which was one less broken handle than the one I was using. Winner!

I have a stunning wooden-handled umbrella (complete with Burberry check) which Mr P retrieved from a dumpster in the dead of the night during a particularly fortuitous transport delivery.

And just a few weeks ago when we swung into my sister’s driveway on our way to this road trip to a funeral, I couldn’t help but spy one of these atop the dumpster in her front yard.

Without much fuss, we saved it from its landfill death and gave it a new home.

What a find! I love these old wooden clothes horses. And even better, this one was our mum’s. I think my sister was shocked (possibly just bemused) that I’d seen value in this piece, when she no longer did. Mind you she was in the midst of a serious declutter and re-furb.

I already have two almost identical clothes horses that are in regular use. The same look – chunky, white-painted wooden cross dowels (to stop the timber tannins seeping into the wet clothes) and the raw timber uprights of that super-simple yet practical design.

Now that Wonder Boy is taking care of his own laundry (yes, even the ironing), there’s more pressure on the Mothership’s clothes horse resources. Often he lets his laundry gather for a week or two, enough that it overflows the rails of two clothes horses and onto stair railings and chair backs.

Knowing he’ll be flying the nest before too long, it’s good planning to have an extra airer to send off with him to his new nest. And if I give him Mum’s, he might just see it as a family heirloom rather than a piece of domestic detritus.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the vintage look and feel of these clothes horses, but I’m still not a fan of the sight of wet washing hanging around, all Chinese laundry style. It’s just a necessary evil, if you don’t have a clothes dryer in your life.

And I don’t. I haven’t had a clothes dryer since Wonder Boy came out of nappies a couple of decades ago.

Those were the days. My kids’ eyes glaze over when I talk about the halcyon days of the Age of Cloth Nappies, when mums were tied to the laundry, the nappy bucket and the clothesline in pursuit of snow-white, fluffy nappies. You’d think I was talking about a prehistoric era before electricity or, God forbid, before iPhones. But it’s really not all that long ago.

Now I’m more environmentally aware. It’s hard to justify sucking the life out of the energy grid to dry clothes mechanically, when one has a clothes line and clothes horses (three!) and a work-from-home-job that lets you rush out at a moment’s notice to rescue the washing from the elements. (Even so, my washing has been known to hang languid and neglected on the line for three rainy days or more when I’m feeling especially lazy.)

I’ve said all this to justify, perhaps normalise, dumpster diving in my sister’s skip. I am Sheryl and I have dumpster-dived (or dove?)

There I said it.

That just leaves the big questions:

If you scream “you beauty!” as you dive into a dumpster and no one hears you, does that mean you didn’t scream? Or that it didn’t happen?

And what is normal … other than just another setting on the dryer?

9 thoughts on “Dumpster diving … and proud of it

  1. Dumpster-dive away, my dear! I prefer to think of it a “salvaging” or even the slightly more pretentious “repurposing”–but whatever. Stuff gets a new shot at life, landfills are just that tiny bit less full, and you get the satisfaction of acquiring something for nothing. Where’s the down side?

  2. When I had a big old house and three kids at home, I had four of these in my basement and lines strung all over across the ceilings. My kids hated “rough towels” that hadn’t been fluffed in a dryer, but I came to love the feel. It was almost like drying off with a loofah.

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