A few nights ago a friend and I went skipping (or dumpster-diving, as they'd say across the pond) in Lenton. It was my first time, so I was grateful to have a veteran with me. Rummaging through various bins is a bit scary to begin with, not least because some people will look at you strangely as you debate Marx, veganism and the student life while searching their rubbish for fun and profit. But they're more afraid of you than you are of them.
It was an immensely rewarding experience. Beyond the desire for free food and stuff, dumpster-divers seek to show up our society for its wastefulness, and do their part in recycling. Of course it's fun: you find the strangest things. And, last but not least, it's apparently a great way of making friends: an inebriated but lovely gentleman stopped by as we were searching a skip and engaged us in a drawn-out conversation about his children and his dog, while expressing approval of our actions.
We knew the rubbish would be collected the following morning, so this was the perfect time to nick everything the students had seen fit to throw away. Incidentally, students: shred your documents before you bin them! Identity theft would be jolly easy for anyone so inclined. We did well, though my friend, who has experience, determination and a keen eye for the useful, bagged rather more than I did. (Meanwhile I, in a fit of detestable madness, decided it would be very funny to spray-tan a part of my arm from a fake-tan bottle. Not so funny now.)
The things I salvaged included:
- a working alarm clock
- a half-full tube of after-shave emulsion
- six china mugs of acceptable loveliness, one of them in masculinity-affirming pink, with a saucer
- a plastic England mug, which I pretend to like ironically
- a Coca-Cola glass, which is now a trophy from the Man
- two unopened bottles of generic continental lager
- a pair of 3D glasses
- a leatherbound Belle & Jerome menu
- a mostly-empty bottle of a brand-name men's fragrance, which smells twice as good when free
- One pack each of children's and grown-ups' drinking chocolate
- a Co-op linen shopping bag
- a lovely white shirt in my size, which I put on immediately.
I should point out all these items are in pristine condition (after a wash, anyway). It's incredible just how much people throw away rather than giving to charity or distributing it to neighbours. But I'm not one to talk, I've done much the same. Whenever I move, please feel free to come and take some of my stuff. You won't have to pick it out from the bin - just ask.