The things you own end up owning you

Some 3years ago, a friend who was storing my luggage in the UK informed me she was selling the house and moving out

She sent me several emails asking that i come and pick them up. Being in another country and miles away, its not like i could just hop on a bus and go get them. I tried to ask friends, relatives in the UK if they could be so kind as to collect my stuff and keep them. And this did not work out. In the end, this friend sent me an email saying ‘Dear Laureene, i am sorry but i had to send your stuff to a hospice’ At first  i was mad, i mean we were talking about some of my greatest books, clothes, camping gear, stuff that were dear to me. But after sometime, it dawned on me, i didnt have to worry about these items anymore, they were gone and hopefully to people that will have a better use for them, its not like i was naked in Georgia anyway!

Last month, my friend Carlos came to visit me. He is an impulsive one that one! On a saturday evening, he sends me an email, ‘I am hitchhiking from Germany to come see you. Should be there alittle after 12’ great, He ended up arriving at 1am. We have known each other for a little over 2years and there is a weird understanding between us that we can sit in a room and not talk but be comfortable with it. He is stupid and i keep telling him that, and he answers with statements like ‘i know you are,but who am i’..see? stupid.

Carlos and i travelled together during my last weeks in the UK and he is my sould brother. will write more about that sometime. He is your ultimate hippy, though maybe he wont like being called that. So on the day he shows up, he is not wearing shoes and his feet are, lets say not clean. what do you expect, he hitchhiked from Germany to Holland without shoes and the first thing i say to him ‘you need to wash your feet’. we go back and forth, ‘why should i wash them, does it bother you, what if i would rather they stay this color’, and ‘yes you need to wash them, you are not getting into bed like that, those feet have been goodness knows where, you are going to wash them’. in the end, i won and he washed them off

I should be getting to the whole point of this post, but one must lay the ground work. T

The next day, we are up and early and thinking, what to do, him ‘we are going to go dumbster diving and make a good meal out of our finds’.At this stage, i am not sure how i feel about dumbster diving. But, what have we got to lose? So we set off

Quick quiz: is dumpster diving :

A) a sport?
B) a popular hobby for the frugal?
C) an environmentally and socially conscious way of life?

The answer is all of the above. As the name implies, dumpster diving (known as “skip diving” or “binning” in many parts of the world) is the process of scavenging trash—not always dumpsters, however—for useful or valuable items. Believe it or not, though, dumpster diving is quickly approaching mainstream status even in affluent countries. Whether you’re looking to furnish your home, fill your fridge, or cash in on other people’s trash. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Dumpster Dive Step 4.jpg

We armed ourselves with a huge Lidl bag and set off. Since were were after food, the ideal place to look was supermarkets, bakeries, grocery stores, etc.

I live in a small town called Wageningen in Holland, and usually shops on a sunday do not open until after 1pm. We set off nevertheless. Its a shame that most stores keep their bins inside the store warehouse, and after visiting all the supermarkets, apart from lidl where we found a baquette and some salad, we were not so successful.

with our heads low. we headed back home. Then we can an ideal, lets try get to the nearest town of Arnhem and see if we will be more successful. Actually Arnhem is not that near, by bike its about 1.5hrs. But why not, we can get Carlos a bike and set off.

Some tips on dumbster diving


  • Dumpster dive on Sunday when garbage trucks aren’t working and you might find some great food and other cool stuff!
  • While diving, keep a few cardboard boxes around outside the dumpster in a little pile. If confronted, you can say you were searching for some boxes to help with a move. The employees are more likely to give you a better reaction than if you tell them you were looking for products they sell.
  • Before vaulting into a dumpster, hit the side of the dumpster a few times to warn its inhabitants (i.e., possums, raccoons, rats, squirrels) of your impending scavenging. Watch out for possums as they will fight, and rats will run over the top of you to get away.
  • Check out community Web sites for more free things. The free section of craigslist is a good resource if you live in a metropolitan area, and many communities have freecycle groups where people give away their unwanted treasures to keep them out of landfills. If you participate in one of these communities, remember to give as well as receive.
  • A white butcher smock makes you look like a grocery store employee and you are seldom bothered by other dumpster divers or law enforcement when they see that smock.
  • A cheap set of long-handled fireplace log tongs work wonderfully for retrieving items if you don’t want to climb in. A miner’s cap with a light or a trustworthy headlamp is better than a flashlight because it allows you to work two handed.
  • If confronted by a business owner, resident, rubbish hauler, or police officer, be polite and explain what you are doing. Many times people will assume that you are illegally dumping trash and will not bother you if they understand that you are not. In any case, always be friendly and respectful, and try to understand the other person’s point of view: business owners who tell you to leave the premises, for example, may be concerned about their legal liability if you were to be injured.
  • Dive with a friend; it’s a lot more fun with company and safer, too. A friend can help you out if you become injured, can help defuse confrontations and keep look out.
  • Empty your pockets and take off any jewelry before entering a dumpster so you don’t lose it in the trash for another diver to find.
  • When scavenging for food, look for freshly filled dumpsters rather than full dumpsters.
  • Dive with a friend; it’s a lot more fun with company and safer, too. A friend can help you out if you become injured, can help defuse confrontations and keep look out.
  • If you live near a university when graduation rolls around the seniors have to move out fast and leave lots of stuff behind. Underclassmen will leave things behind as well but usually right before graduation. Some janitors are nice and allow you to paw through the bags of stuff they leave outside the dorms to be picked up.
  • Cotton gloves are a terrible idea. They soak up everything. Use latex instead.
  • Wear tight fitting jeans, they are less likely to get caught on bins and in fences. But not so tight that you can’t move properly
  • If you are worried about safety, you can park your car in front of the dumpster to make it impossible to have it dumped. In some cases this is illegal, but if you are diving on a day close to trash pickup day, it could save your life.
  • A backpack seems like a good idea, but it can really get in the way and get stuck on things. A few small grocery bags in your pocket works better!
  • Let it be known in your neighborhood that you find homes for discarded items. Many people can’t be bothered to call a charity shop, but are all too happy to ask a neighbor to haul things away for them.
  • If you don’t like to get very dirty, you can try magazine dumpster diving. The magazine recycling boxes are usually very clean, and sometimes you can find some very good reading material in them if you don’t want to buy a subscription to a magazine.
  • Cleaning vegetables: Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is better than bleach for sanitizing vegetables. Use 3/4 cup to a sink full of water. Let veggies soak. Allow to dry or dry with paper towels. It will also supposedly add life to them


We set off by bike to Arnhem, stopping along the way to check in on supermarkets and shops, and all the way to Arnhem, still nothing! supermarkets guard their trash like no man’s business, which i think its quite sad. If you are not going to sell it, whats the point of hiding it away!

Carlos and i got separated in Arnhem and it turns out we did not have to go as far as Arnhem. In the small village of Renkum is a SPAR, which keeps their bins in a courtyard of sorts and its hear that we found this:

 10411334_937074575612_3161492298761435359_n 10462525_937074520722_8763360306374953151_n 10462623_937074480802_1648592470562553025_n

Most of it is diary and i am not that much of a diary fan, but we also had vegetables, and that huge bag of white sticks you see on the counter is asparagus! which i have no clue what to do with that it went straight to the freezer

For 2weeks, i managed to do the 5euro challenge, ie live on 5euros for a week and to be honest, it was not that bad.

And thus begain my journey of minimalism.

I joined a communal gargen and once in a while there are veggies you can pick, the othey day we harvested some potatoes (organic) and i was able to take some away. There is a farm where i can usually buy organic courgette, but this weekend, a friend of a friend came to visit and we came across a berry bush where i picked a bowl of berries the week before, we came across tomatoes, courgette, corn that the farm had thrown away and me thinks this will be my next dumbster diving spot for veggies for the next weeks or so


I don’t eat meat (rarely) or eggs so really the one item i spend a reasonable amount of money on is nuts, i have been known to blow up to 10euros on a bag of nuts which to be fair can see me through atleast 2weeks, and being a vegetarian, nuts are a good supplement


Stay tuned for more stories on the minimal life, its not easy but can be as easy as we make it

Did i mention as well the blessing of a living in a country where i can get by on a bike and not spend money on a bus? infact, the last time i rode the bus was when i came from the airport to Wageninge. That weekend i was able to get a bike for something like 30euros and i have since been in love with my bike


the minimal life, put yourself in the shoes of someone that lives on $1 a day,



2 comments on “The things you own end up owning you

    • Well, you should have seen whati found the week after.
      A whole shopping list, brocolli, veggiemix, more diary but i left that behind, a was more than i could carry
      it definitely made my living on $5 a week slightly easier 🙂 try it even for a couple of days


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