Frugal Living 

One Man’s Trash: Free Televisions and Computers!

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JD recently wrote a post about how he picked up someone else’s discard pile (reuse!) on his way home from work one day and that got me thinking about what sort of goodies I’ve ever resurrected from the dead. Now, I don’t mean dumpster diving here, that’s not to say I’m “above” it, just that the thought of rummaging through a dumpster just sounds way too dangerous and nasty/dirty for me; what I mean is just picking from stuff put on the side of the road or outside a building, where no entry into a dumpster is required. Just the thought of stepping into or rummaging through some of the stuff I’ve thrown out makes my stomach churn.

Best Haul:
My best haul was definitely was an old television (and remote!) in the first apartment I lived at in Maryland. At the apartment complex, if your trash didn’t fit in the trash chute (or too heavy or dangerous to throw down it) most people just left it sitting there besides the chute door. That door was on one side of the elevator, my room was approximately 20 feet away from the door and so when I went out one day to toss my own trash, I saw an otherwise good looking television sitting there smiling at me. I brought it back to my room, plugged it in and turned it on – it worked! It’s amazing what college students will throw out rather than take with them…

A completely working computer, albeit a little on the old side, was left outside the trash at another apartment complex but this time I was driving out and dropping off some recycling when I saw it. When I powered the bad boy up at home last that night, I found that it was running Windows 98 (this was two years ago, but still way past the Best Used By date for Win98) but seemed to be in pretty good shape – definitely would make for a useful internet surfing computer if I ever needed one. Or could make its way to the donation pile but it’ll have a much better life this way than leaking toxic chemicals into some landfill.

Honorable Mention:
I remember going around school around the summer and picking up all sorts of crazy discards from college kids looking to lighten their load. The number of dorm-room refrigerators that people tossed was staggering. One of my friends scoured the dorms for them and just took them (they weren’t the rental ones left out for pickup, these were legitimate discards), selling them on Craigslist for $60 a pop. Me? I just snagged one for my own personal use.

What’s your best discard pickup?

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “One Man’s Trash: Free Televisions and Computers!”

  1. samerwriter says:

    A friend of mine was moving out of his apartment after college when some guy in a moving truck who said he worked with the Salvation Army offered to take unneeded furniture off their hands. He even wrote them up a receipt for it.

    A couple days later, they saw the same guy holding an impromptu garage sale selling the stuff he’d gathered from them (and other college students).

    That was clearly fraudulent, but I have to grudgingly respect his initiative. But I think his timing was off. I’d bet one could make pretty good money by offering to haul away old stuff after spring semester. Then store it for the summer and resell it during fall semester move-in.

  2. Clever Dude says:

    We’ve picked up:
    1) A working treadmill – just needed to fashion a plastic “key” out of those fake credit cards to get it to run

    2) A TV (no remote) – the coax plug in the bag was a bit worn out, but I just bent the coax wire so it made contact and it works fine

    3) A solid wood kid’s desk – perfect size for my wife, but right now it’s just holding piles and piles of paper

    4) A dirt devil vacuum (in college) – however, looking back on it now, I think the cleaning lady just put it in the trash room while she was cleaning somewhere else. Oh well, finders keepers!

  3. Master Allan says:

    A few months after moving into my new apartment I heard a commotion on the balcony below my unit. My neighbor was moving out and decided to save a few trips and throw his balcony furniture to the courtyard below. After that they hauled it to the dumpster and left. What a free win for me as I promptly made trips to take it up to my balcony. These are good quality chairs (6) and a table, not some flimsy plastic junk. If this guy told me he would sell it to me for $50 I would have paid him cash without a 2nd thought.

    A few years ago I found a Macintosh Performa (I think) by a dumpster, complete in original box, with CRT monitor, software, and original manuals. It was in like-new condition. I grabbed it and shortly later donated it to a poor student at my university.

    I also have dug through my trashcan by the mailboxes. A local Chipolte restaurant sent everyone a free dinner card, just show up! Most people toss their junk mail without even looking through it. A handful of those saves me $6 every time I show up!!! Gotta love free stuff.

  4. PJ says:

    My husband and I work at an apartment complex, and you wouldn’t believe the stuff people leave behind when they move! We are in a college town, so I am sure that has a lot to do with it. Anyhow, the apartment management stores everything for 30 days, and then the staff get dibs on it. We now have several computer parts, a recliner, lots of DVDs (most new, as in never even opened!), enough paper towels and toilet paper (in unopened packages) to last a month or more, and soon a like-new bread machine. And this is just this past month, because we just started! Also, nearly every day there is a nearly new vacuum by the dumpsters that the only thing wrong with it is that it needs a new bag. Apparantly there are many people (students probably) who don’t know how to change a vacuum bag, and would rather throw the whole thing out.

  5. The Travelin' Man says:

    I live in a small condo and eternally wish that I had a grill. I would like to get one of those small Weber tailgating grills, but I just haven’t done it. Every now and again, I am fortunate to be invited to a friend’s house for dinner – and it seems like all of their family’s cooking is done on their grill. Whenever I am there, I am reminded (and usually mention so audibly) that I wish I had a grill. This usually launches my buddy into telling the story of how he found his grill on the side of the road – needing only a new hose for the propane tank. For as much use as he has gotten/gets out of the thing, I would have to say that has been a winner for him.

  6. daemondust says:

    Picked up a RRoD’d XBOX 360, which Microsoft replaced for me under warranty, a couple years ago. Perk of living in a college town, I guess. I’ve picked up numerous lamps and kitchen items too when students move out for the summer.

  7. fordguy says:

    found a vintage vietnam era zippo. it needed a flint and some fluid thats it. my buddy found an xbox too speakin of which the semester ends tomarrow lols

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