On Getting Free (or almost free) Stuff- the art of the Scrounge

These days when in need you may go to a store or order just about anything.  In our culture convenience is king.  But that convenience also brings with it an investment in new resources and puts the old stuff in the landfill. I find a certain satisfaction in going outside our profit economy and seeing what kind of deal I can swing for my own use and assist others in getting rid of their unwanted items. 

Specifically, I’m going to address here my ongoing native garden project but the principles can apply to other pursuits…

Plants– Watch for giveaways on Facebook, Craigslist etc. Sometimes people devide plants and offer them up to for free. I obtained numerous plants when the local high school was liquidating their native plant selection from their horticulture program (which is sad.)

Rocks– I needed all sizes to edge my beds and add architectural interest.  We have found some by the roadside but needed more.  My first go-to was Craigslist. There was one listing where we got some great free rocks but the rest was too much of a drive for my fossil fuel ethic. I ultimately put up an ad on the “Next Door” app and numerous people responded.  We took our car and utility trailer, drove a short distance, and took home several loads.  There is more if we want.

Stepping Stones-The elementary school across the street was removing their concrete floor in pieces.  They make perfect stepping stones for free.

Wood and wood chips- I needed small logs to edge my beds and some tree limbs to build some trellises rather than using dimensional lumber

I had the tree guys that were doing work on our property carve two seats in my garden out of the trunk of a beloved old walnut tree that had to come down.  When a friend was having two trees removed from their property I had her tree guys cut some poles for me from the downed trees.  The same tree company delivered a load of wood chips for free in our yard.

chairs from an old stump

Bricks– I have an endless supply from and ad I also posted on Next Door and with it came a new friend!

Garden kitsch– Yard sales, estate sales, Habitat for Humanity Restores, and thrift stores often provide a large selection of cool stuff to place in the garden

Metal- as above but also your local scrap metal yard is a good resource.

Then I found that plain “word of mouth” can go far too.  Mention to all your friends what you are looking for.  They might become the source but often it is a “hey, I know someone that might have that…”  There’s nothing like a good treasure hunt.  Besides the goods, you will often see new territory and make some connections along the way.  Ask and have fun!

8 comments

  1. There are so many opportunities to repurpose if you just start looking. My husband was an expert. He was always bringing things home. We lived in a small town with a second hand store called the Gleaners. They had a shed out back where they put all the books destined for the dump. Larry started bringing home these boxes of books as he was putting together his plan to open a used book store. All our stock was initially free and rescued thousands of books from the dump. White Rock near Vancouver also used to have a one day a year where people put out household items for pick up but you could also cruise the streets and look for things you might need and once again saving perfectly good items from filling up the landfill. I don’t know if they still do that.

    Liked by 1 person

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