One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure

I’ve recently begun doing some online writing work, and that means spending a lot of time at my desk. My desk chair collapsed a few months back, and up until a few days ago, I’d been sitting on an old dining chair while I worked. But it had absolutely no padding and was wreaking havoc on my back and my posture.

I was left with a dilemma. I knew I was going to do some damage to my back if I kept sitting on that chair for hours every day, but my income is currently very low and I was reluctant to invest in a decent one – especially since I’m moving in a few months and won’t be able to take any large heavy things with me.

Then I remembered Freecycle – a site where people give away things they no longer need. I checked my local group and found a few office chairs. Some were too bulky or too far away, a problem as I don’t drive. One looked smaller, but no specific location was given and the listing was a few weeks old.

I enquired about it anyway, not really expecting a reply. To my surprise, the lady got back to me straight away. Not only was the chair still available, but she happened to live just ten minutes away from me! She said she’d put it out in her front garden the next morning so I could come round and collect it.

The chair had previously been owned by an artist – it had several paint splatters on it and was missing a wheel, but that wasn’t a problem as it still stayed upright. Unsurprisingly, I got some very strange looks carrying it home over my shoulder. I even tried wheeling it, but it made so much noise that I had to give up. My arms soon began to ache, and I chuckled to myself about the lengths I was prepared to go to to avoid spending money!

I got it safely home, but that wasn’t the end of the battle – I still had to get it up the stairs. Because of an inconveniently placed cupboard, I had to lift it over the bannister to get it onto the stairs. At least it was a good workout!

The chair looked as though it had been sitting in a shed for months – it was dusty and muddy and had something which looked suspiciously like cat hair on it. But that was easily sorted with a vacuum cleaner and a duster. Once cleaned up, I tried it out and was instantly glad I’d gone to so much trouble.


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My new (or old) chair!


It may look somewhat battered, but it’s very comfortable and the back is adjustable. I can even spin around on it – but not too fast, as the missing wheel makes it a little unbalanced! The previous owner told me it would have been sent to the tip if no-one had claimed it, which would have been a real shame.

There are so many unwanted possessions in the world, and I can no longer justify buying something new if I could get it used instead. From now on, Freecycle will be my first port of call when I need something. I also like to ask around family and friends to see if anyone has something lying around – my parents have accumulated thirty years’ worth of possessions and are usually glad to pass some on to me.

I now have a reputation as someone who will gladly accept sloppy seconds, which means free things have a tendency to come my way – including the laptop I’m typing this on. But if I can’t get something free, I’ll usually turn to either charity shops or eBay.

I get my clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment and soft furnishings from charity shops, along with the occasional book or CD. If I need anything for my bike or computer, I’ll get it off eBay. I just bought a bike basket which was discounted due to having a few dents in it – dents which I managed to squash out within five minutes of unpacking it!

Sustainability is really important to me, and I think I’d still choose to live this way even if I had more money. It feels so good to make use of things that would otherwise have been thrown away. I really hate sending things to landfill and I feel far more at peace with myself if I can avoid it. It’s ridiculous that we deem some things unusable because of dents, stains or other minor damage which doesn’t even affect their functionality.

Do you make use of things which others have thrown out? I’d love to hear your stories.

Packing reusable lunch ware makes an impact

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great about the chair – I love those types of office chairs. And no arms too, which always get in the way I find. Well done you! I am usually the one bunging out stuff to charity or offering items on Freecycle rather than collecting things, though less so now as I am far more spend savvy. All my books come from charity shops as do many of my clothes 🙂

    1. I agree about the arms, I used to play guitar and chairs with arms were my nemesis! I do give things to charity fairly often, but most of my things are so worn out by the time I’m done with them that I can’t give them away. It is really nice to give as well as receive though.

  2. Great story about your chair! 🙂 Most of my furniture is second-hand. Fortunately, my husband has a small truck so it’s easy for us to go pick up a couch or other large item from someone else. We just recently got a mint-condition La-Z-Boy recliner chair for a tenth of its retail price because someone wanted to get rid of it and needed someone to come and get it. All my clothes are second hand, except socks and underwear and bathing suits. And I like re-purposing things for use in my yard.

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