Street Scavenging

Many of the most knowledgeable people I have met refer to themselves as “junkers.” These are people who avail themselves of every opportunity to make a find which includes street scavenging. What is street scavenging? Usually it is retrieving valuables from debris and garbage to be hauled away to the dump. A different type of curbside recycling.

What items are retrieved? A lot of perfectly decent construction items can be found in front yards. Some may have a “Free” sign posted, others are just strewn among the garbage cans. These include fluroscent light fixtures, doors, toilets, sinks, carpet and rugs, and occasionally furniture.

Where do you look? The best places are where garbage is picked-up. Most often it is curbside in front of a residence. Sometimes garbage is collected off an alley in the rear of the house, in the back loading area of a commercial dwelling, or near the highway or road in rural areas. One time on a trip I found an antique 1930’s bread tin and matching cannister in pretty decent shape in front of a rural home at the driveway entrance. I know of a wooden table that was found roadside by a metropolitan architectural salvage business that was later restored and updated into a beautiful piece that would look perfect in any cosmopolitan dining room.

¬†What are the best scavenging days or times? Obviously, if there is a set citywide timetable for garbage pick-up, for instance east locales MWF and west areas of the city T,Th, Saturday, the best time to look would be in those scheduled areas the night before, or in the early morning hours of that particular pick-up day. Also certain times of the year are better than others. If you live in a college town you may find some treasures when the college kids break-up apartments to return home for summer vacation. I once found a 1950’s red and chrome kitchen table that college kids were putting out at the curb and were happy to unload. Another time, I found a perfectly good full size rug that originally sold for $60 at Target–a power sprayer cleaning made it look wonderful! Many junkers scour the alleys and areas where senior citizens reside especially in the spring when there are more estate sales and spring cleaning.

Reminders. Unless there is a “free” sign posted, be sure to check with the owner to see if you can remove the property, and that it is indeed being tossed and not just placed there for future use by the owner. This will also allay any fears in these times of identity stealing and any unnecessary confrontations. Be courteous!

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