How to properly take trash that is not garbage and find treasure

Kyle Lessman

Kyle Lessman

To the rest of Brookings it is known as the Brookings Regional Landfill Spring Clean Up. To college students in the know, however, it can be Christmas in April. But time is running short as all objects will be picked up by the end of this week.

The premise of this most wonderful time of the year is that any Brookings resident can clean out their garages, basements or back closets and just dump the “junk” out on the curb for the city to pick up and haul off to the landfill.

Take note that “junk” is the operative word here. This junk can be the most glorious, wonderful and magnificent treasure on earth. It is, in essence, a free, outdoor Wal-Mart in the sense that you can get anything that you would ever need right there on the street. This is especially appealing to the sophomores who are looking to furnish a house or apartment next year.

An example of this can be seen directly by taking a tour of my house. If it weren’t for garbage week, my house would lack a desk chair, an entertainment center, a kitchen table, two shelving units, two patio chairs, four kitchen chairs and a magazine rack. Needless to say, I love garbage week. In this column, I will offer some tips as well as some lessons that come straight from a garbage week veteran.

First of all, find a friend with an SUV or a truck, because you are going to need it. This should not be too hard; we are in South Dakota.

Second, do not be afraid to look like a creeper. The residents know that this is a college town, and they expect you to go shopping through their garbage.

For my third tip, I would advise you to not limit yourself to a particular neighborhood. Feel free to explore places you have never been before, and remember not to limit yourself to the “rich” part of town. The people who live here do have some cash, but because of that, they have the resources to buy nice things that do not break very often, so the finds may be few. When you do find them, though, you may have hit the jackpot.

Fourth, do not just skim the top of the pile. What you’re looking for may just be buried under that vacuum cleaner and chair with two legs. And always remember: if you pick it up and it turns out to be crap, you can always put it back out on the curb next year.

There are also some very important lessons you can learn from this experience. These things not only relate to garbage week but also to life. The first of these is that you can never have too many couches and recliners. Again referencing my house, I have five couches and three recliners. The second life lesson is, if you can smell it from the car and it smells bad, do not touch it. Three, very few problems cannot be solved with duct tape and Febreze.

The final life lesson may be cliché but is very true: you cannot judge a book – or table, or chair or grill – by its cover. Just because it was tossed on the side of the road does not mean that it has lost its value. It has just gained a new value, and with the lessons and memories you gain through garbage week, it can truly make your finds priceless.