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Dump Diva

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

shallot_dressingI’m a regular at the dump.

OK, OK, it’s not actually the dump: it’s my local Chittenden Solid Waste District Drop-Off Center. But when I score a treasure there and tell my friends about it, it’s so much more dramatic to say, “Look what I got at the dump!”

So why am I picking up when I should be dropping off, as the name implies? Because the clever folks at CSWD have added a little shed at each drop-off center that they call the “ReUse Zone,” a place where you can leave still-usable household items that you no longer want but someone else might (note that drop-off fees still apply).

In other words, there’s good free stuff for the taking.

As a food blogger, I am always on the lookout for props for my food photography: interesting plates, flatware, glasses, bowls, linens — anything that might enhance my photos and prevent them from seeming repetitively boring, which they would be if I used my everyday dishes for each photo.

Clearly, though, acquiring these props could turn into an expensive prospect. Since I generally only need one of any item (ever try to buy a single fork in a retail shop? not so easy) rather than a set, my favorite sources are low-cost venues like yard sales and second-hand shops or, better yet, free sources like the ReUse Zone.

You would be amazed at what I have rescued from that one little shed: brand-new items (price tags often still attached), including a stoneware Bundt pan, a tabletop drinks cooler and bamboo flatware, as well as gently used finds, such as a black lacquer rice bowl, colornutella_banana_breadful plates, cute old milk bottles, lots of mason jars and a large enameled salad bowl. With just a little scrubbing, they are all enjoying a second life.

See the bowl and serving utensils in the background of the photo of the shallot dressing? Or the bamboo cutting board underneath the banana bread?

They’re all dump treasures.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the books I find at the ReUse Zone — some for me, some for my friends, some for my family.

There truly is something for everyone at the dump.

And, who knows? That “something” just might make an appearance in a photo on my blog.

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