Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Drive By's

Today, I want to share the most efficient technique I have in my arsenal. Believe it or not, it only requires patience , persistence and a a little far sightedness. Ha!

Before I go any furhter, this can also be done scaled down or up. Down to Bicycle or walking or up to cube van. On foot you could bring a bundle buggy. On a bike, a basket or trailer would up the stakes. A cube van...................???????...........you must have free storage somehow. I have seen many approachs. I prefer a regular car or van and choice pickings that work with my future plans as a musician. Don't let greed ruin it (or kill you with overhead!).

If you are fortunate to have a vehicle or can get someone to drive or share one, the most effective way to accumulate free stuff on a mass level is to pass (drive by) where there is no garbage bin at giant commercial/industrial "estates" or "parks". Yes that is right; "hit them where they're not".

You must, however;choose to drive by a building that you have deducted or feel should have a bin or compactor, but does not. All on the possibility it may take years for a huge find. An ideal place would be a very large company that manufactures and has large square footage. Or one that only rolls out a small bin for pick up during the day and only when a garbage truck is there. Be observant of everday routine. Either way, any large operation that bottle necks it's refuse (or shall we say, creates an unnatural blockage or constipation), will eventually clear itself. That comes in the form of large clean ups, write downs or periodic purges where 20 0r 40 yard bins are used. At this time, the volume could be so high as to require the quite a large storage solution. This might come in the form of a self storage unit, friends garages , under tarps , out buildings in rural areas or an immediate consignment relationship where you can dump the stuff and get someone to store it as they are selling it (the best).

How can this work. I fit as many of these in as I can, on my run/trap line. I just blend them into my regular pattern of looking and expect nothing and wait. These drive by designated spots require only a quick but disciplined visual inspection, possibly only the need to turn your head one way or the other. Day in and day out. You will have to dedicate yourself to never forgetting to check that empty space at the building where you think a dumpster should be. Sooner or later you will look up and behold; a behemoth of a bin with anything from desks, chairs , stationary, tools, manufactured products, pallet damaged inventory, bags of ground coffee, company promotional items, the contents of employees desks who have been terminated and many more cool things.

Now think about it. All you may have done between the dumpsters you were checking anyway was to peer one direction or the other daily for 260 days a year. After, say, 5 years times 5 seconds per day you will have spent 108 minutes to find lord knows what. All by working with mathematical odds and never lifting a finger. You may consider that you invested nothing except your attention, as you were "driving by anyway". Beware of distraction - loud radios, your favorite mixed tape or radio talk shows that get your goat. You might slip up and forget to look. The math makes this work only when you linearly do it day after day (if you are sick and it is possible - get someone else to look or ask atmosphere people what they saw yesterday). Now ask yourself, if you build your own little run - how many of these can you fit in. Think about it.

Another consideration is short tern drive by's. They are large buildings that are up for rent with large commercial real estate signs on them. When they move or go bankrupt or whatever; there will be a bin or bins of some sort. This is usually a much more known commodity to liquidators or ex employees, local kids, etc. and is going to be sifted by others. Be prepared for diplomacy or worse (I will cover this in another Post). Have you ever heard of "reconcile your fellow dumpster divers or try to prevent being annihilated"? Yes , there have been turf wars for garbage. Always best to walk away if possible. Human nature will always provide another garbage bin somewhere else.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

OOhhh.......It's too cold to go out.

Tonight I think the time is right to cover weather. In one week, I have went through a snow storm, sustained rain, a muddy thaw and then a freeze up with high winds and dangerous black ice overnight - from the thaw. Ice is especially bad on steel bin walls where a fall could be lethal or there may be no one to help for hours or days if you are seriously injured. You have to be your own safety rep. or you will destroy the most precious tool you have.

When you are outside you need to be monitoring the weather channel, news , etc.. All the time. Don't laugh. There is a two fold reason.

You obviously need to know when bad weather is rolling in so that (if possible) you avoid the obvious pitfalls by getting out before the storm or just after. Often it is just a waste of time to be there when it is miserable and will really slow you down (especially traffic slowdowns - not just getting soaked, blown over or stuck in snow). But, you need to be there!! On a continuous roll, returning to the bin again and again, if you miss one day, it could be the day something was there. You will never know. But you need to know on a daily basis.

If you can't make the effort in bad weather, why even try to be efficient when you have just cut your odds of getting value for your effort. It is the consistency that builds a mild form of security in this field of operation.

The second reason is that better and more stuff is usually thrown out when the weather is bad. I know this from first hand experience. I believe that many people could not be bothered, at this time, to damage items when they toss them out. When they are faced with exposing themselves to bad weather, most of the employees that do the garbage are not going to freeze or soak themselves as readily for minimum wage or low pay. They are usually the employees on the lower end of the pay scale (I am sure marketing managers do not put out the trash). In other words, they open the back door, feel -20 degrees and the wind whipping down their neck; then throw the stuff out as fast as they can and slam the door shut. Also, if you are in a climate like the one I hunt in (cold snowy winters), you have the added benefit during a snow storm of having a soft landing for the stuff about 3-5 months of the year. Perhaps people make no effort to destroy anything, as they believe "no one" is crazy enough to be there in that weather to get this garbage! The bottom line is that you need to prepare yourself for increased activity by getting out early and making space, not just wearing good warm weather proof clothing. The math is on your side. Bad weather=more garbage finds=more of whatever you want; be it money, supplies, items to tinker with or donate to your favorite causes, etc., etc..

Count on getting more stuff during bad weather. Be ready and clothed appropriately. Nobody has to be anymore uncomfortable than their planning will allow. Turn on the radio or TV weather channel and make mental notes daily; then reap the benefits.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm back.


Back after a long hiatus.............too many stories that are too long to relate.

I just want to say thanks for all the feedback I have received and I will be in touch with as many as I can.

I started many entries. The trouble is, I have been picky about the content and outrageously busy trying to keep creative juices going as a working musician and in personal writing. I have been unsure how to express ideas here but have just decdided it is more important to get it out regardless of literary "whatevers". Dozens languish as drafts. I am often caught saying "get on with it" or being "disciplined" is necessary for garbage hunting bliss. However, the world economy being what it is these days, I feel an urge?...................duty?.................. to finish all these off and share. They may start to take on many shapes, styles and sizes as I attempt to just spit them out rough hewn. I hope you enjoy them.

So lets just get on with it. What I really want to address here is efficiency.

Here is a tip that will be specific to those that drive. Driving should make the process faster; however, it should be organized in a circular pattern or repeating swirl if necessary to accommodate as many right turns as possible(they are legal here in Canada on a red-they may not be elsewhere). When you have a 'trap line" you want to check....................sorry, I could not help myself...................you will be on it hundreds of days a year. Wasted time adds up. Avoiding lights by utilising right hand turns, especially at reds is a must. This is not meant to represent a factor of greed whereby you are rushing to "get it all", just common sense. The quality time is the second of revelation. When you can't believe what you have. The acquisition. Not sitting waiting at lights. In a year you will save weeks of time if you are out there as often as me. And if you can and are wise, you will spend it with loved ones or doing the stuff you enjoy. Sometimes garbage pickin' is just plain old garbage pickin' and it gets "old".

All objects great and small.

Never physically visit a can and leave empty handed. Obviously you do not (and most likely will not) want to be taking anything or everything. However; once you make the commitment to stop and look, as a matter of discipline and habit, you should take something of value to reward your time and energy. Even when you think there is nothing there look harder. Small objects are ideal in these moments. The stuff that may not seem worth it like stationary, hardware , nails & screws..........oddball items that normally do not appear to be a big catches. Taken, used,reused and energy/money/landfill saved, it will just be more slow moving leverage in your favour. Once again, in a year, hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of saved money as you move through life. Think of it as personal pyramid building. I mean we all know deep down that thousands of average workers really built the great Pyramids the hard way. Little piece by piece. It's only epic in hindsight. But it is your pyramid you are building.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greed and garbage

Gordon Gekko (a fictional character from the 1987 film Wall Street) -

"greed is good".

To get the quote straight, it is a much broader piece of Rhetoric that is quoted and I include a big piece of it here. -

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good.
Greed is right.
Greed works.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.
And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

First, I just want to say that this attitude is probably prevalent in event corner of the world every day, not just the U.S.A...

What does greed have to do with garbage? Bear with me and you will find out.

It is hard to argue with the phrase "free is the best price". It has been a phrase often heard out of my mouth, whether it be "free press" for the band or free discarded items. This is where greed becomes a factor. Given a free object or opportunity, how can you go wrong?

Well let me give me a revised look at greed. To someone like myself, who acquires unwanted items from the garbage - greed is my enemy. Most everyone in the world has some "pack rat " in them and it's worst form is plain greed.

Greed is storage.
Greed makes you work too hard, moving the same item from place to place many times over.
Greed confuses, as you dig through mountains of boxes and bags and it drains your spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for broken and new electronics, for books missing page 364 and whose cover is upside down, for empty ink and toner cartridges, useless facts that cloud your mind and burn your time -- has marked the downward spiral of our quality of life but we choose to let it happen anyway (especially when it is free).
And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only bury us, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the human race."

So take it from one who has too much stuff in his closets, garage etc.. Let go. Be happy to pass it on to the new user for free. Make your big "warehouse" decisions by the road side before it follows you home. Trade for what you need (one I highly recommend!). For I have found that even when it is free and greed should reign supreme, be humble and thoughtful and leave some for the next hunter/diver (or the garbage truck). Be able to walk away. That is freedom.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

To hunt and not to dive

I might give a mission statement but, I will not. I might philosophize but, not yet. I will not share my locations but, I will give some trade secrets that are of the highest order of value if you want to be efficient with your time.

You see, I started out hoping this would be temporary. The groundwork way back when was based on "get in and out fast" (please hold back the humour) of bins and sell it for what you can get quickly in order to pay for my main pursuit in life, drums and music where the (enter guttural humour) "ins and outs" are hopefully much cleaner. O.K. , there will be less humour. Maybe. Maybe not. Anyway...................that meant being a commando of sorts. Don't gloat, don't sit there and look at it, don't get excited and waste time. Get on with it.

Very few things I have read by others going through trash give details on hands on experience of what to do. I will start here and now with this very point. I will try to give two every time I touch on the hands on stuff.

I won't cover safety and the common sense stuff because I hope you all suit up for the hunt properly. Gloves, boots etc. Be ready for the weather (watch and listen to weather reports or your exploits could be miserable).

Trash Trade Secret Number One: When you want to understand what is in a garbage bin, the best possible way to do so is to stalk it. Meaning, go every day - no exceptions. Keep a very short SIMPLE point form diary or use your memory (easier). By visiting every day (every work day they toss) you dig less in that, you hopefully can remember what was there the other day and make use of the layer concept. Each day only one layer of garbage is usually left. Since you visit each day, you will come to know how much content needs to be disturbed and checked based on the increase in volume from the last day. This adds up to surprisingly less work, digging and moving the same trash around. It also means bio hazards are minimized over time by new garbage layers (hopefully thick enough to block any older strata of decaying stuff that might be there). Less time and energy is expended and saved for the countless bins ahead. The key is to use the eyes and head, not muscle until it is time. Then move on.

Trash Trade Secret Number Two: Bring your own sturdy and reliable garbage bags and boxes. Why waste time over the target looking for boxes nearby or relying on the quality choice of garbage bags of the janitor/person/warehouse worker. Often , people make the cheapest choice as it only needs to make it in and usually with a toss. If the strength of the bag or box is compromised and you dump it on the ground or yourself...................well......you know what you've done. Now get down and clean that up!

Re bag the bags in your bags (also minimizing bio hazards somewhat) and use your boxes when necessary.

Don't ever leave a mess! Leave it like you found it or better.

Talk at you soon. Hopefully tomorrow. It's late. Good night folks.