They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and New York City offers some of the best “treasure” hunting out there! In order to live as frugally as possible, one NYC-resident has made trash picking part of her daily life.
On this episode of Extreme Minimalists, meet Jenny, an “extreme frugalist” who cuts down on her consumption and general spending by scheduling “no electricity” days for herself, and picking through trash to give usable objects a second life.
“I think being frugal is being smart with your money,” explains Jenny. “So it’s not like you can’t spend any money, or that you have to live a life of deprivation, but it’s more about being thoughtful.”
One way that Jenny cuts her spending is through “no electricity” days, which are days throughout the year where the frugalist turns everything off, and just “practices living that way.”
On Jenny’s “no electricity”—or “blackout days”, as she calls them—she’ll simply wake up and open her blinds to take advantage of the natural sunlight. Then, she leaves her apartment, and most of the day she’s not home to use any electricity anyway!
Another way that Jenny cuts costs is by hunting for treasure in the trash. Jenny knows that Sunday is garbage day in NYC, and Sundays in the middle of the month and at the end of the month typically yield the best trash because that’s often when people are moving. “I’ll walk around the neighborhood and while I’m walking I’ll have a little peek here, have a little peek there and see what kind of treasures I can find,” explains Jenny.
On one particular outing, Jenny finds a rainbow accordion file folder that, once she’s returned home, she places into a designated bin that she calls her “treasure bin”, full of items she’s found in the trash.
Jenny sees her trash picking practice as a way to keep things out of landfills and reduce her own personal spending. “I feel like a lot of people do purchase more than they need,” says Jenny. “And we can see that just from the trash that’s being laid out on the street, not weekly but basically daily.”
But one can over-consume trash as well. Jenny avoids this by extending the benefits of her trash picking practice to other people in her life. “When I look through trash, I think about if I actually need this item or not, or whether I know anybody who might find some use out of it,” she shares.
“A lot of people throw things out and they don’t think about how they can add value to other people’s lives,” notes Jenny. “And I find that you can really find a lot of treasures out there if you go looking.”
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