Allotment

Top 5 Tips for Skip Salvaging

I am an unapologetic skip rat. I love skips, they are an excellent source of free building materials. I never pass a skip without checking out its contents. You never know when you are going to pass something with exactly what you need just sitting there, waiting to be rehomed! 

Free wheelbarrow and cold frames saved from skips
Wheelbarrow saved from scrap, cold frames made from crates and windows found in skips.
Everything in these photos has been salvaged for free and repurposed for a new life down my allotment. You’d be amazed what people throw away every day. Sure, sometimes it’s because it’s damaged as in the case of my wonderfully wonky wheelbarrow, but every day I use it (until the wheel inevitably falls off and it becomes a planter) is another day it stays out of landfill. By taking these items and recycling them I’m not only helping myself to stuff I need but I’m helping the contractors who have a bit more room in their skips for genuine rubbish and who don’t have to pay to have quite so much taken away. 

Salvaged materials from skips down at the allotment
Bricks all salvaged from a building site. Old water tank for bulbs, ‘railway sleeper’ ceiling joist, pallets etc all salvaged from skips.

Here are my top tips for salvaging from skips:

1. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. 

I am lucky in that I have a dog who needs walking so I am very familiar with the skips on the streets surrounding my home. I always keep an eye on them and if I see something I want then I’ll knock on the door then and there even if I have to bring the car or bike back later to collect. You also never know what you’ll be able to repurpose, just because it wasn’t designed for it doesn’t mean it can’t be reused in a different fashion. 

2. Always ask permission from the contractor or homeowner. 

I’ve never been told no, but I always make sure I have permission to remove any items before hand. One, it’s just polite, two, if the skip’s on private property and you don’t get permission, its theft. Sometimes people are a bit confused as to why I want to go through their rubbish but I simply ask if it’s ok for me to salvage some stuff from their skip and explain that I have an allotment nearby and like to save things from landfill and recycle them wherever possible. 

3. Have no shame!

It feels terribly un-British the first few times you knock on someone’s door but don’t worry. Even if someone tells you no, at least you tried. And it’s not like you’re trying to sell them double glazing! Everyone knows that we’re supposed to reduce, reuse and recycle so people are actually usually very happy for you to take stuff away to do so. 

4. Be careful and considerate. 

Try not to knock on the door at unsociable hours and try not to make too much noise or mess when you’re extracting things. No one wants their drive way covered in old nails for the car to run over. If you do accidentally make a mess clear it up. Be careful of nearby vehicles when moving larger items, if you scratch their car they may never recycle again!  

5. Wear gloves. 

You never know what’s there inside a skip so be safe and wear a pair of decent, heavy duty gloves when extracting things. Splinters may well be the least of your worries, broken glass, rusted nails, spilled oil and cement are all frequently found in search of your chosen treasures! 

Chicken run made from salvaged materials.
Fence panels, pallets, wire frames all salvaged to make the chicken run/fruit cage.
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