If you look back fifty, sixty years ago, people took care of their possessions, used what they had and didn’t go around buying things new all the time. We didn’t waste things, or food for that matter. The world-wars taught people to value what we have, mend what can be mended, make what we need and turn what we don’t need into something we do need. People didn’t run to the mall to get the new lampshade to match their new carpet, or get a whole new set of furniture just because they “changed their style”. Well, some did, but it wasn’t the norm. Furniture were expensive, and for most people, furniture was something you bought once or twice in one lifetime. Often you got certain furniture pieces, china, pots and pans, rugs etc as wedding presents. Some inherited them from grandparents, uncles or aunts. Regardless, be it pots and pans or and armchair, it wasn’t something you got on a whim or just because the colour was nice. You didn’t spend a lot of money if you could help it, and you most certainly didn’t do it just for fun.
Today, people are ridiculously obsessed with appearances, and every season, people are clearing out their homes and their wardrobe, dumping the lot at the dump, only to go to the mall to buy everything new again. Then they’ll repeat the process in six months or a year. This means that we support fast fashion and consumerism and that in its turn means that we support the pollution that comes from mass-manufacturing, shipping and the often-substandard work environments for the people who make them. We have lost respect for the true value of things, we are far too greedy and we are far too wasteful. This needs to change.
However, there is a glimmer of hope.
In all this wastefulness, there are humans who are doing something to save the planet and to minimise the waste; dumpster divers. Dumpster diving has become a thing worldwide due to the extreme amounts of good food, clothes and miscellaneous items being disposed of daily by shops. Dumpster diving can also include going through garbage rooms in apartment buildings where perfectly good things may be disposed of. There are people who have gotten everything they need for their apartments from dumpster diving. Everything they needed for their new child – anything from cloth diapers to prams. People who go to their apartment building’s garbage room regularly to look for things other people have disposed of. People who no longer buy food because there is so much food being thrown away. People who no longer buy clothes because they get them all donated or from dumpster diving. People who have gotten building materials for free through dumpster diving and has built anything from furniture to their own home with it.
This is only possible because the world today is incredibly wasteful.
So, what can we do to break the cycle?
What can we do to help the planet and preserve what we have, rather than disposing and making new?
There are many things you can do. Join a local dumpster diving community on Facebook and start dumpster diving in your own- or neighbouring town. When there is something you need, whatever it is, see if someone else is giving it away for free or selling it cheap. These days, there is hardly anything you can’t get for free or just about, as long as you look hard enough.
If you get too much food or items through dumpster diving, donate it to single parent families, low income families, students or the homeless. There are people living on a very low income in every country and they’re sure to benefit from your help.
If you are a fashion lover, look for second hand stores, people selling their garments on Etsy, craigslist, e-Bay or even Facebook. Try your hand at upcycling fashion, learn how to sew and create your own fabulous free one-of-a-kind garments. You can easily get bags full of clothes for free if you just reach out to people and ask. Rather than having those people dispose of their clothes, they’ll be much happier giving them to you, so that you can bring them new life.
Waste to Profit
If you are looking for creating your own income and you have a creative vision, I recommend looking through donated and free things in Facebook groups, on Craigslist, wherever really, and then collect them, upcycle or re-design them and then sell them. You will spend little to no money, only time, and you can earn anything from a few hundred dollars a month to a real steady income. You can do this with both furniture, decor and fashion items.
Make a change
Although the world and many of its inhabitants are incredibly thriftless now in 2019, this does not have to be the case in 2020 or even in late 2019. Let’s work hard to preserve what can be preserved, and value things properly. Let us choose creativity over spending money and get what we can get for free. When we stop ourselves from always buying things new, and start looking to what we have, what we can get for free and what we can make, we are helping the planet one idea at the time. It is possible to build a home out of free materials or waste. It is possible to get all your furniture and decor from waste. It is possible to get your entire wardrobe free. It is possible to get all your food free. It is possibly to make money from nothing: to profit from waste.
Remember, anything you can get new, you can also get pre-loved.
Most of the foods you can get in a supermarket, you can also get through dumpster diving, and through those, you can regrow some of them yourself.
The next time you are looking to get something, be creative. I challenge you to think outside of the box.
Look around. Talk to people. Use money only as a last resort. You can do it.