I was planning to make a small stand for a barrel of worms (another post for another time), using saved or salvaged scrap lumber from the basement. It wouldn’t have cost anything, except my time, but time’s one commodity I’m often short on.

Then one Sunday morning we were out for a walk and came upon a small table put out for the trash. What could be better than a favorable coincidence and a useful piece of junk! I snatched it up. I might have to spend a few minutes bracing the legs but it will be well worth the effort.

I’ve found many treasures at the side of the road, useful wood, including 4 by 8 sheets of plywood or pressed board, ductwork, straw bales from construction sites, cabinets, flower pots, shelves, picket fences, flexible downspouts, and more.

The little table is a win-win-win situation: for the former owner who got rid of what he/she didn’t need, for me, who got what I did need, and for the landfill that didn’t get the table.

Few would argue that recycling and upcycling are bad ideas. Yet, there is an appreciable number of people who wouldn’t be seen trash picking to save their souls, even if they coveted some item on its way to the landfill. Veteran trash picker that I am, I admit that sometimes I feel a little odd pulling up in front of someone’s place and hauling away the goodies. I have a vague feeling that some day someone will dash out of the house and yell at me for taking their junk. I do it anyway.

There are people with plenty of money who have no hesitancy at all to take someone else’s throwaways. There are poor people who will do the same. What’s the difference between those who will and those who won’t?

It might have to do with the biggest psychological constraint of all humankind: “What will people think?” Those four words have probably done more to stifle human creativity than anything. Discounting those four words could likely be a key to leading a happier, freer life.

How can a person restore that natural trust and confidence in himself or herself? For those who insist on saying “What will people think?” I’d suggest this affirmation, “Who the heck cares?”

Happy trash picking!