There’s an old saying: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

And – ‘waste not want not’.

I remember when I lived in SF, in the Inner Richmond ( 12th & Balboa) – not far from the ocean, just north of Golden Gate Park – between 1993 and 2002  the noisiest nights were when every six months in any neighborhood the city did a unique trash pick up. You could bring anything that didn’t fit in the cans out to the street by nightfall for pickup thru the night. Well, this attracted all kinds of scavengers who went from block to block, checking out everything, and it got noisy when two people saw the same item simultaneously and went for it, and disagreed who had seen it first, or got to it first.

I just chuckled at it all, and tried to get back to sleep.

I am a perfectly respectable guy who had no idea I would get in to this, it just kinda came about. I live in a rather nice apt complex just north of San Francisco CA and that’s why this ‘diving’ began. And I don’t really ‘dive’, no way – actually all I do is take a look at what is on top in the dumpster when I take out my trash.

But times change, i have only worked part time for the last 8 years due to medical issues, the downturn in the business I work for, and the downturn in my inheritance income (small! really!!) since the recession of 2008.


At first I did this sporadically, when people move out, they usually empty their fridge, and they also consider every item they are packing to move with this question – “do i really wanna take this along, is it worth the effort?”. (I do the same thing whenever i move, too.)

Sooo…. plenty of good stuff gets tossed out.

Initially, I found numerous T-shirts, several pairs of shoes (that actually fit me), & some interesting small furniture items. I am picky about ‘furniture’, I don’t want anything ‘wood’ or heavy, at age 62, I like lawn furniture that’s really light. When ever I glance at the dumpsters on my way into the complex, if i see any furniture in the trash, I look deeper, When people move, they ‘toss’.


Then when I started noticing even more good stuff, I looked a bit deeper. I also read several things online about how much perfectly good food ends up in landfills, like 20%… perhaps more. I didn’t save the URL’s of these articles, but even w/ 62 YO memory, i am SURE.

This is ridiculous when so many people around the world are starving.

I grew up in a small town in Maine, and there was always a vegetable garden out back, a big one. Not just because there was the space for it, but because my parents grew up thru the depression and WW2, and any opportunity left undone was a waste, in their eyes. My bro, sis an me all worked the garden – you want to eat? you have to work, it was that simple. It was a great lesson I still remember, ..and I still remember being bitten incessantly by mosquitoes!Also remember a ‘root cellar’ in this house – a dirt floor, many shelves of rough wood. And this is where ‘waste not, want not’ comes from.


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