Wednesday, November 11

dumpster diving

It's think green thursday! Woo hoo. Time to live on the cheap, rethink, reuse, recycle. Find your inner hippy. Who's a cheap skate out there? Raise your hands. Who looks at brown and shrunken bananas and thinks Banana Bread! or Ice Cream! Rotten banana ice cream is such a treat and SOOOOO farkin' easy it's not funny. Just peel and toss your rotten bananas in the freezer. When you've accumulated 4 or 5, drop them directly into the blender to mash them up and WAA LA! Creamy sweet 100% banana "ice cream". Yum yum.

But my focus today is REUSE. One of my shameless joys is finding something good for free. I've always got a raised eye when passing other people's trash, assessing if there's anything good in there. In grad school I hauled home a leather lounge chair that I happened to see near the dumpsters on my way home from class. It became the best seat in the house for the remaining four years in that apartment (then promptly when from the curb into some other lucky student's apartment). Heck, the comfy leather chair I'm SITTIN ON AT THIS VERY MOMENT was rescued from the trash heap. We have a pair of them. Nice bouncy springs in the seat, brass buttons, worn wooden arm rests. You can find great things that have been kicked to the curb, often with a lot more character than anything new. AND FREE!!!

Even here in Italy, where such activity seems to be more strongly frowned upon, I've stumbled on a few things I couldn't pass up. Especially around season changes, when shops update their look, you find all sorts of great containers just headed off for the landfill. For instance, I picked up a pair of large square baskets and gave one to each of the punks for their treasures (the key is to get to it before it's been rained or peed on).

The flip side of this is to not put your reusable stuff into the trash. Haul it off to the goodwill instead. They make it so easy, some charity/second hand shops even schedule neighborhood drive thrus... all you have to do is leave what you want them to take outside your door. Poof! It's out of your life and off to a better, more useful exhistence. I really wish this was more popular in Italy. I really miss the second hand, co-ops, and goodwill shops. I found it so cleansing (literally and figuratively) to haul off all our outgrown clothes and shoes two or three times a year. These shops also provided a thrifty way to satisfy my occasional itching to do some shopping. What an adventure to weave your way through a good second hand store. I especially love great finds like hand-stitched napkins, dish towels, and table clothes. Pillowcases too.

So that's my pitch this week. Reuse. And don't be too proud to do a little dumpster diving. ;)

PS... Another great blog that lives and breathes the spirit of thinking green, Consciously Frugal.


  1. I'm with you! Second hand - or third hand for that matter, is great. Yard sales too! The great things some people decide to part with!

  2. That banana ice cream sounds, no, tastes good.
    In Finland we recycle a lot but here in Egypt...oh, boy...
    It's going to take years to organize basic things here.

  3. One good use of old bananas is a pina colada. I don't drink them but my mother says they're great. LOL

    When we left Hubby's grad school we left things out by the dump and literally five minutes later everything had been claimed. :D

  4. You bet ! We will be doing a great service to the planet too !

  5. I'm raising my hand and shouting amen! (Best cheesy rhyming line ever.) Thanks for the shout out!

    I want to ask you 4,000 questions about life in Italy. I will have to comb through the blog, eh?

    The only thing about living in Italy I know is from reading Frances Mayes' books and an Italian dude I know loathes her. L-o-a-t-h-e-s.

    Do they have antique fairs/flea markets there? I love old things, particularly linens, and have always fantasized that living in a culture that's been around far longer than mine would reap big rewards in that area.

    Why do you think there isn't such a focus on thrift stores? Is it less of a throw away culture? Or...?? Such a pity we can't dish over coffee. :)

  6. Anonymous9:34 AM

    This is a great post...I am going to use the word 'farkin' as a wonderful substitute...You really are a 'green thinker'. I didn't know that Italy wasn't into recycling as much.. Thank you for posting to Think(ing) Green... Michelle

  7. Just a quick note (I'm in the middle of bedtime showers and don't have time right this second to reply to everyone) BUT I wanted to say that Italy is into recycling, but not reusing. It's almost considered an insult to offer someone your hand-me-downs. And no thrift stores... have the name of 1 co-op I need to check out, but that's it. In a town of roughly 800K.

  8. we called this pearl diving when i was in college and it was a favorite room-mate activity.

  9. Wow, there is indeed a lot of useful things being thrown away just like that. Good for you to be setting such a good example.

  10. Isn't Consciously Frugal great? Love her :)


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