When taking the trash to the dump, I can always tell when Melvin is there, though he’s small and not easy to see. He gleans through the goodies in the dumpster, literally.
He always sets the goodies he finds in contrived arrangements that show his treasures are claimed. Whenever he gets there first, I pay him a small amount for things that I see that I want.
“It isn’t easy standing down here in the dumpster and all a sudden someone heaves a bag of trash on your head,” says Melvin.
An otherwise dull job, I always know to expect a bit sociability at the dump when I get rid of household trash. People are often there milling around to see what good stuff other people threw away.
If someone throws away an item that’s still in good shape, it’s often placed to the side instead of thrown into the dumpster.
This becomes an interpersonal system of recycling. The only prerequisite to taking advantage of these finds is to make it there before Monday or Thursday.
So many things can be recycled and put to good use, I can’t help but wonder about items like the trunk full of fabric left behind when my Grandma passed.
A length of a fabric called gabardine is still in my closet, decades later. It doesn’t show any wear to this day.
If we had always worn the same quality clothing for years and years, how many resources might have been saved? Granted, it would be boring, but wouldn’t it be worth it to save the environment and financial resources?
On one dumpster diving episode, when Melvin wasn’t there, I found a beautiful, brand new coat, lovingly draped across the corner of the short dumpster that I always use.
As if it were left there just for me, it was brand new and still had the original price tags on it, and it was a perfect fit. My eyes feasted on the bright red cashmere with a mandarin collar and black cording trim. It was love at first sight, and all I had to do was dry clean it.
Later, I bought coordinating hat and boots. It’s a combination I love to wear – still can’t believe it was discarded. Instead, I’ll try to imagine the mystery person who decided to leave the bright red coat, just at that juncture in time, radiantly gleaming there in the sunshine, at the dump.
Friends tell me, “Don’t tell anyone you got it at the dump,” but recycling is so much fun, my enthusiasm is overwhelming, and I’ve got to confess to someone.