If you asked me what my favorite part of dumpster diving is I would have two answers for you. The first is the feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction that comes with finding something for which I have been searching for some time. The second is being able to show this item off to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and anyone else willing to listen in order to demonstrate how frequently clean and well-functioning items are simply discarded when not wanted anymore.
Due mostly to the latter reason I’ve decided to start documenting someone of my favorite trash finds on the blog in a series entitled “Confessions of an Amateur Dumpster Diver.” Lucky you, you’ve happened across the first of such postings. Today we’ll delve into my most recent favorite trash find, that being my new (to me) bike pannier.
For those of you who have never heard of a pannier, it is a bag, basket, or box (oh my!) typically attached to the side of a bicycle or motorcycle. Fun fact: the word pannier comes from the Old French word panier, meaning bread basket. I typically bike to work and have recently acquired a bike with a rear bike rack, meaning I was able to switch over from carrying my work items in my backpack, as I previously had done, to using a bike pannier. The benefits of a pannier over my backpack include: larger capacity, less stress on my back (something my orthopedist was always concerned about, especially since I have a bad back) and a less sweaty back during the summer months (backpack back sweat is no joke). Until I found my own pannier my neighbor kindly let me borrow an extra pannier of his, which worked for the time being but was not a long-term solution. I knew I ultimately wanted to find a pannier of my own, and had put some feelers out on Craigslist and had even met up with someone to buy one, only to find out it wasn’t the correct size for my bike rack.
A couple months into my search my partner and I were taking a walk to our favorite neighborhood dumpster (a common romantic activity, or so I hear) when I saw a pannier lying on a stack of “trash” items next to the dumpster. In moments like this it oftentimes feels as if the skies have opened up and shown a light down on my material desires (*cue heavenly music*).
After quickly looking the pannier over I found it to be in near-perfect condition. It was clean, empty, and most importantly, in better condition and a better fit for my needs than my neighbor’s pannier I was using at the time.
The bag I found is a Two Wheel Gear Classic 2.0 Garment Bag, which is not their newest model by far but works perfectly well for my needs. The Classic 2.0 is designed to help you bring your “office-ready” clothes into the office without wrinkling them. Luckily my job’s dress code is fairly casual and my morning commute fairly flat, so I typically bike into work wearing the same clothes I plan to wear for the rest of the work day. While I therefore do not need the garment aspect of the bag, I’m able to fit my lunch bag, thermos, and a couple other larger items in the garment portion of the bag, which works well for my needs. Two Wheel Gear also added a padded laptop pocket to their garment bags, which is exceptionally handy now that I’m commuting with my work laptop during the pandemic.
Additionally, I love the fact that Two Wheel Gear designed their bags to be repaired instead of replaced; they sell bag replacement parts on their website, including parts for older models of bags. For example, the Classic 2.0 Garment Bag I found typically attaches to a rear bike rack in three places for extra security. My bag is missing the third attachment, so I’ve simply been clipping the bag’s long strap around the bike rack for to compensate for the missing third attachment, which I actually feel is a bit overkill since the other two attachments keep the pannier in place just fine. However, I do plan on purchasing the replacement parts ($4 each) from Two Wheel Gear once they are back in stock.
In short, you can find some pretty amazing things in (or next-to) dumpsters. What is your favorite trash find?