I know that just the title makes most people cringe. Actually, I used to cringe as well. Then I read about the Freeganism movement where people can even feed themselves from bins (!!) so I figured: You know, I don't want to take food from the bin, but some of the non-food items they find look pretty amazing. This kind of money-saving isn't for everyone and isn't rocket surgery, but I figured I'd be candid about how I save money on this blog, and it's one of the ways I do it.
At the time that I first peeked into a bin, I had a flea market stall to sell off my junk, and I figured I might just find a few bits and pieces to sell. Well, I did, and I thought I'd list a few things I have found. We also check out a few freebie places now and then, like the local Recycle Centre and the flea markets and thrift shops that give away items they no longer want.
Books. (And books, and more books - I could almost dare to say that if you live in Helsinki and love to read you need never buy another book in your entire life, even if you never visit a library.)
Kitchenware. We outfitted my daughter's first apartment kitchen about 50% from dumpster & salvage finds. I even found an expensive heavy-bottomed stainless saucepan in my own apartment's bin with someone's burned dinner on the bottom... elbow grease and sandpaper, it was good as new.
Bikes. We own five bikes, two of which cost us nothing. Well I lie, I had to buy one new tyre and one new seat, and had to spend a few hours with a spanner to get them cleaned up and working properly.
Furniture. Two beds (I bought a new mattress for the larger one, and I washed the mattress pad which came with the fold-up bed - it looked spotless to begin with, but I washed it anyway under the shower). A bookshelf bedhead which I modified so it would fit the large (free) bed - this was funny as I had been eyeing the exact item in the Ikea catalog at the time. A huge metal folding futon sofa bed frame - we bought a mattress for this too as it had none.
Clothing. Oodles of clothes. We don't take rescued underwear, for obvious reasons! But jackets, shirts, jeans, you name it. Three long rain jackets. One brand new towelling dressing gown. Shoes, sometimes, although they're harder to find in good condition (we often put an inner sole into them, or wash them if possible). Rugs, blankets, quilt covers and sheets. Into the hottest wash cycle they go. If they survive it, free clothes! If they don't, no great loss.
Office Supplies. All sorts of stuff, from an office chair with wheels to a whole desk filing system.
Glassware. In the glass recycling we have found vases and lovely glass items.
Bottles and cans. I look in the general waste bin a couple of times a week and probably about half the times I find bottles and cans near the top. Here in Finland they have a refundable pawn attached of between 10c and 40c per bottle. I'm not too proud to pull "money" out of the rubbish.
Rolls of paper. Lots of brown paper, white paper, even rolls of wallpaper. We don't need to buy anything for quite a while. We tend to add coloured ribbon to them for Christmas gift wrapping.
A guitar. This one I had forgotten about until today, when my dad asked what the brand is. My daughter found it on the side of the road, in a spotless hard case. The guitar was missing a string and had a broken tuning peg. I bought a set of new tuning pegs for a few dollars on eBay, and re-strung it. She never really had much interest in playing, but today we Googled the actual brand and model, and apparently this model is made of rosewood and worth a fair bit of money. I think we're going to sell it now that we know! ;)
Other notable finds. A golf bag with wheels in great condition, a fold-up baby travel crib, a coffee table, tv table, shelves, several more folding beds and chairs. All of these we pulled out and left in view for someone else to take who could use them. We've also left items behind that we loved, but which were too difficult for us to take home. No doubt someone else was able to take them and enjoy them :)
Have you found anything good? Do tell...