Saturday, May 21, 2016

Artist Dumpster Dive

I might have to change the name of this blog to the Dumpster Diving Librarian.

Yup, that's me. Photo credit: Jennifer Moore

I recently participated in the First Annual Artists' Dumpster Dive at the University of New Hampshire.

I already knew that there was an enterprising group of students who would collect all the usable furniture, appliances, books, clothing, etc. that gets discarded during move-out week, store them over the summer, and the sell them right back to the student body at the start of the following year. Not only is it profitable for them, but it cuts down on the immense amount of waste and I think it also raises awareness in the UNH community about how quick we are to put something in the dumpster  just because we don't need it anymore.

I went to the UNH Trash 2 Treasure Move In Sale last August, and saw everything that had been pulled from dumpsters and curbs, and I remember thinking that I wish I'd had a crack at the dumpsters beforehand. Well, Facebook is an amazing thing, and a notification popped up one day about an event that *might* interest me (you know how those things work), and it was for the UNH Artists Dumpster Dive.

Basically, the Trash 2 Treasure members scower the campus during move-out week for usable furniture/carpets/clothing/school supplies/etc. to sell in August. You wouldn't believe all the shower caddy thingies we pulled out, that are going to be sold in August.

I guess it's just more convenient to throw it away, and 
buy a new one at Target the following fall.

However, they come across a TON (actually about 80 tons, according to the program's founder) of other stuff that is not in re-sell condition. That's where people like me come in!

I know to some people, just the idea of picking stuff off the side of the road, or getting inside a dumpster is enough to make them turn green, but it's never bothered me. I've always just figured "Eh, I'm washable." Being in those dumpsters allowed me to imagine myself as Oscar the Grouch for a little while.

He's always been a hero of mine.

I responded to the Facebook invite and was contacted through one of the program's staff members, a very nice girl named Genna, who filled me in on the details. We all met up at the Dairy Bar, and I was psyched to see one of my former co-workers from the Portsmouth Public Library in our group. She also blogs, and hers focuses on sustainable style. You can find her blog here:  . She's also the lady who's credited in these photos.

After listening to Alex, the founder of Trash 2 Treasure, talk a little about the initiative and the history of the program, we all set out. I climbed in the back of a U Haul truck (no light, no seatbelt, with a bunch of other people I didn't know) and then we dug in.

I was pretty happy with the stuff I found!

       a string of light-up letters. Photo credit: Jennifer Moore                 a gumball machine! Photo credit: Jennifer Moore

But I think the best part was connecting with other people in the area who are also passionate about recycled art and upcycling items into new purposes.

I guess I harbor a little bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to art. I don't have an artist statement, or a studio in a renovated historic mill building, and I've never sold a thing. It's a good thing I have an actual job, because I really would be a Starving Artist.

I just see myself as the weird lady who makes wind chimes out of old jewelry, and art journals out of discarded library books. and paints cast-off furniture.

I'm also the weird lady with Velveteen Rabbit syndrome, 
who rescues toys that have been thrown away. This little guy was pulled  out of one of
 the dumpsters, so I brought him home and washed him up. 
As soon as J saw it, he hugged him. 

If you'd like to read more about Trash 2 Treasure, and (PLAN) the Post Landfill Action Network, here's a link to their site:

I also found a bunch of ice cube trays- very convenient since our ice maker recently broke!

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