Confessions of a environmental bin-dipper

Updated: Jun 5

I grew up in a village in Liverpool where the derogatory term bin-dipper was used between Manchester United and Liverpool football fans. Bin-dipping is commonplace in cities like New York, California, Washington D.C, San Fransisco and London where we only have to look around to see people from all walks of life sourcing unwanted articles from waste bins to upcycle, reuse or sell.

The first time I saw people bin-dipping for plastic was twenty-odd years ago in New York City, where seeing individuals with a shopping trolly collecting plastic waste and wrought iron is something you see every day. It is normal and for many people it is honest paid slog.

I have lived in a few towns and cities, but it wasn't until I relocated to Barcelona, Spain that I noticed the different 'types' of people who bin-dip. On more than one occasion I have hesitantly, walked past old, unwanted furniture sitting beside a bin on a residential street and I recall rabbiting on about it, with great regret!

There is so much unmanaged human-made waste in the world. More so in mega-cities so why wouldn't I enjoy up-cycling furniture that someone else doesn't want?

Most of the furniture in my Catalonian flat is a up-cycle from a neighbourhood bin-dip. So if like me you hate waste and you enjoy making things or recycling old unwanted articles then all it takes is a bit of TLC and occasionally a bit of elbow grease and voila! Here are my eight environmental bin-dips, of which cost me absolutely nothing, bar item number 4 below which cost 10 euros in a taxi back home.

1. A chair sourced from a street in Gracia reused as a cat scratching post.

2. Two black crates reused as storage

3. A coffee tin reused as plant stand

4. A table for two left outside, beside a bin in Sant Gervasi = costing 10 euros home in a cab!

5. A broken wooden stool reused as a plant stand.

6. A succulent plant in a Terracotta plant pot left beside a city waste bin.

7. An empty Vermut box found outside my local bodega, reused as a book stand.

8. A reused sardine tin, soaked overnight and reused as storage in my tiny work-shop.

Before we throw anything away remind ourselves of the rule of 4R: reuse, rethink, reduce and recycle. Waste-not-want-not, up-cycle, inspire, be creative and try to be environmentally savvy.

I only blog every couple of weeks, so if you enjoy a light-hearted environmental read, without being bombarded by preachy e-mails subscribe to my blog here.

Outside A Circus

Outside a Circus is an eccentric hat shop inspired by plants and nature, Shopping tours in Barcelona and a green fashion, shopping and interiors blog.


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