Last week, on my return trip from ferrying Miss Thistle to school, my eagle-eye, always trained to the curbside, spied a huuuuuge sink sitting lonesomely by the side of the road. As I was just a minute from home, and had blown past the sink a tad fast, I stopped in our driveway to regroup and consider the possibilities. I had viewed the sink at about 50 miles per hour, but it looked like a perfect fit for our needs. Just the week before, Mr. Thistle and I had discussed our desire for a utility sink in the garage for all our messy-project shenanigans, which include, but are not limited to everything from cleaning paint brushes and washing foraged walnuts to scrubbing down muddy children, messy pet supplies, and even our own garden-filthy selves from time to time.
Now, I personally believe that if you put something out there into the Universe, you will soon receive an answer if you are paying attention. Take my utility sink: I expressed a desire to acquire one, and lo and behold, one week later I had one, and it was totally free! It required only my own brute strength and my vehicle to get it home.
Speaking of that … After a moment of driveway reflection, and a quick parley with Mr. Thistle, I decided the sink was absolutely worth a second look. On my way back out, I pulled in next to Madame Porcelain Sink and eyed her up. Yup, she was a beauty! She was huge, pristine, and very heavy. I gave the house a quick glance, and noted that it was clean and tidy, and remembered seeing the homeowners in their yard. They were an older couple, and the sink had been wheeled to the curb on a little cart. I erased any notions of tapping on the door to see if anyone could help me load ‘er up, and determined that I could do this.
As Little Thistle snoozed peacefully in his car seat, his
powerhouse puny mama somehow hefted that beast of a sink into the back of the vehicle. If there was anyone watching (sure hope not) they probably had a decent laugh, especially during the muttered pep-talk portion of the exercise. When I brought the sink back home and watched Mr. Thistle heave it out of the back, I wondered how it was that I managed to lift it in to begin with. I guess when you really want something, you make it happen!
Lest you think this is my first trash find, gentle reader, I tell you nay, it is not. As I gaze around my house, I see many a lovely trash find, and I am not sure anyone would know these items were rescued curbside or otherwise, because they are perfectly nice! There’s the solid wood, vintage coffee table where Miss Thistle sits to color and host her tea parties; the set of school chairs sized just right for little ones; the woven baskets I use to corral all sorts of items; the discarded bone china found in a trash box on the sidewalk … the list goes on and on! That’s just a sampling, and doesn’t even include the myriad other objects that we use and love that were secondhand freebies (more on those another time).
I think there are manifold benefits to keeping your eyes (and your mind) open to trash and curbside finds.
First, and most obvious, you are rescuing items that are perfectly serviceable, yet inexplicably doomed to the landfill. Many people set items out on the curb because they simply do not have the time, desire, or resources to deal with them any longer. I think many people hope that someone will come along and rescue the item in question. I know that we have placed unwanted goods on our front lawn, hoping someone else will find and enjoy them … they always disappear, much to our delight! It’s always helpful if the item is marked “free,” but I don’t limit myself in this regard. If an interesting piece is obviously in a trash heap, I will avail myself of it after a quick appraisal. I do not take things that are not obvious discards, though we have been known to politely inquire if we have questions about the availability of an item! For example, Mr. Thistle is currently
stalking observing an apparently-unused antenna. He threatens to someday knock on the door and inquire … he’s on his own for that one!
Second, by snapping up trash finds, we are short-circuiting the vicious consumer cycle, which is incredibly wasteful (not to mention expensive!). If I had purchased a new utility sink, it would likely be made of plastic, and by purchasing it, I would trigger the demand for the production of more new plastic sinks. By using an existing sink, my impact on that chain of events is reduced, and I do not send any manufacturers the signal to “make more! make more!”
Third: Quality. Not only would I have to shell out my well-guarded cash when buying new, but I would likely receive an inferior product in return. This sink has already passed the test of time, as it looks like it dates to roughly the late 1940s – 1960s. Guess what … it is still in great shape!
Fourth, I support the idea of a sharing economy, where goods are freely offered and requested, per our needs. This relates to point number one, and is supported by the well-known phrase, “One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.” By offering the things we no longer need, we can bless someone else, rather than simply relegating them to the dump. This generosity is returned to us in many ways in the form of healthier, more loving communities; neighborly relationships; better allocation and preservation of our resources; less waste to pollute our world; and personal satisfaction, to name just a few benefits.
Finally, trash finds are frugal! You can’t beat “free” for a price. Take my porcelain sink as an example yet again: If I were to visit my local home improvement store to procure a utility sink, I would spend upwards of $100-$150 for a plastic (polypropylene) or composite model. A similarly-styled vitreous sink would run me a cool $900-$1000. Yes, that’s right … $1,000 (Kohler brand; sold at Lowe’s). By picking up free or discarded items, I keep my cash in my bank account, and can use it for experiences that bring us joy, necessities, or savings.
And so, I am pretty dang pleased with my new (old) sink. I’ll continue to share my trash finds as they crop up, and I would love to hear about the awesome things that YOU have found in the garbage as well!
PS – As I was reviewing this post before publishing, it occurred to me that this sink is my SECOND trash-picked porcelain / vitreous sink. The other one is a lovely, white corner model, circa 1950s. People! These sinks are not trash! 🙂