Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Ultimate Recycling – Dumpster Diving

A common pastime in Spanish cities is what I fondly refer to as Dumpster Diving. For some it is actually an occupation. These people sell their finds at the Sunday flea markets (flea emphasized) and on some side streets. Shoes are especially popular. These are of course well-worn shoes and we can only hope for the sake of their new owners that they have not been in the dumpsters too long.

Men and women get into the dive and sort seriously – unabashedly laying out their finds to inspect and decide what is worth hauling around with them as they make their dumpster rounds. They know what sells, and what they want.

My husband has happily assimilated this aspect of Spanish culture, although at my insistence has opted for the beside-the-dumpster search as I have forbidden full on diving.

We have three dumpsters across a side street from our apartment so my husband can view the new arrivals from our balcony when he sits out for his other adopted Spanish practice of smoking cigars (or in his case cigarillos, which are cigarette sized cigars). He has developed a taste for the Cuban variety, which are legal and readily available in Spain. And speaking of cigars – how did I ever miss that one of the unique aspects of cigars is that they are rolled not in paper, but a tobacco leaf? That seems so self-contained and efficient! But I digress from the garbage.

Here is the ultimate recycling – one big trash swap open at all times throughout all the cities. In Madrid, Thursday evenings is the night to be scrounging as this is when people put out their large unwanted items like furniture and wood.

It seems that any and every night in Valencia has the potential for large finds. My husband found an old wooden box that he re-fashioned into a bookshelf (it helps that he is a carpenter by trade), as well as a sturdy, large plastic fruit crate which he has strapped onto the back of his second hand bicycle (purchased not found) for carting groceries, and, well of course, dumpster finds.

The old adage, “One person’s trash, is another’s treasure” is ever true in Spain, and makes for very practical applications as well as great entertainment. Just keep in mind that unfortunately sometimes it is simply trash and should remain so as the experienced dumpster divers well know.

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