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Your Trash, My Treasure

Want to save yourself a ton of money on interior design? Forget IKEA, yo. You should go scavenging for trash on the side of the road!

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by Andy Allison, for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2005
Taking people's trash at night is quite the stealth operation. It's best to wear dark clothing...

Want to save yourself a ton of money on interior design? Forget IKEA, yo. You should go scavenging for trash on the side of the road!

I'm completely serious. Why, just tonight, my girlfriend and I found two rusty shelves on a nearby roadside. Perfectly good shelving, right there for the taking, and we happened to need some shelves anyway. So we took a quick look at the items, did some figuring to see if we could even fit these monstrosities in the car, then loaded up and drove off. Hooray, free things!

I'm telling you, there's gold on every street corner. My chick and I go out "trashing" every garbage night, which is Monday in our neighborhood. Folks throw out chairs, couches, cupboards, all kinds of great stuff. In the last week alone, we've snagged a desk, two dressers, a nightstand, a bag full of audio cables, this crazy kitschy desk lamp, two cabinets, a magazine rack and a couple toy tigers. Fucking sweet!

Taking people's trash at night is quite the stealth operation. It's best to wear dark clothing, and you should turn your headlights off when leaving your car idling in front of someone's house. But the rewards sure are worth the effort, you bet!

Oh man, there was one night about a month ago, we hit the fucking jackpot. We recruited our pal Mario to tag along, and there were so many good throwaways that we made two trips home. The haul that night included two stereo component cassette decks, a small coffee table, some grilling utensils, a little record player and some chandelier lightbulbs. The turntable wasn't functional, but I ripped the arm off so I could use the cartridge at a later date. See what I mean? Diamonds in the roughage!

I'll admit, sometimes this ongoing trash hunt goes a little too far. Recently, I found this cool old wooden speaker on someone's lawn and tossed it into the car. I mean, this thing is fucking huge. Maybe three feet tall, forty years old and heavy as fuck, but solid as a goddamn rock. Does it work? Nah, not really! But I just can't bring myself to get rid of it. When am I ever going to find such a neat antique speaker again? Probably never!

Ah, but it has to go, because we'll probably be bringing more garbage home next week. Constant rotation is the key to endless trashing.

Take my advice: It's all about opportunity. If you're driving home from work and see an incredible orange recliner at the end of someone's driveway, for Christ's sake, stop and pick that motherfucker up! And if you don't have room for it, you can always drop it off at my place.

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