How do you ask for free stuff?

Raptor666June 23, 2014

Just wondering how one goes about asking for free stuff. I found some food manufacturing places nearby that I could ask for 55 gal plastic drums, but I don't even know what to say. I feel really dumb asking for something for free (or cheap). I'm especially especially embarrassed asking for trash eg there's no Starbucks nearby, but there's is a Dunkin Donuts, but it makes me feel pretty cheap and stupid asking for used coffee grounds. They're probably thinking, "what kind of bum is asking for trash?"

What do you say, exactly, when asking for stuff, without seeming like a giant fecking dumb miser? (Which is exactly what I feel like.)

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We live in a world where recycling is a common vocabulary term. Go to Dunkin Donuts. Ask if they recycle the grounds and ask if will give you some for your garden. Ask about the barrels. Ask if they discard them or if they would consider allowing you to take one for a rain barrel. All they can say is no. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:43PM
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Eh, sorry, I guess I should have explained... I don't normally talk to people irl, even over the phone. I tend to avoid it and I have a lot of problems with it. It's hard for me to figure out what to say, takes a long time, especially when I'm put on the spot.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 2:14PM
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I like to acknowledge that the person is a human being (not just a source for free stuff), & then ask if they re-cycle whatever, & then ask if I can pick up some of it.


"Hi. I see you've set your food barrels out at the curb. Are you throwing them away? I can sure use them in my garden; would it be okay if I took them/some/one?"


"Hi. Y'all sure do sell a lot of coffee; do you throw away your grounds? If I brought in a plastic wastebasket or barrel or tub with trash liners for you to put the used grounds in, could I pick 'em up nightly for my garden?"

It's important to offer the trash liners or bags, because they will protect the container;
health departments usually require that containers that have been in contact with food or food-trash be cleaned every day or night.
If you just bring the staff one more item to clean, they aren't likely to be enthusiastic!

ad-lib in front of your mirror until you feel comfortable, & don't over-think.

It seems to me that it's easier to approach people if I have my goal in mind, & if I keep in mind that I do have a goal, that i'm not just trying to entertain somebody or sell them on my charm/worthiness/whatever.

Try it in front of your mirror, & if you can, get a friend or colleague or family member to do a 'live' rehearsal before you go to the store or cafe.

People will help if they can, & if they can't, due to space considerations or health department requirements or corporate restrictions, they'll tell you.

If they can help, do exactly what you said you'd do, & remember to thank them every time;
if they can't help, thank them anyway for giving you their time & listening to your request, & remember to smile & wave every time you see them in the future.

Even if things don't change so that you can get the grounds etc, it's polite to acknowledge that you remember that they're human beings, & if theings *do* change (new corporate policy, etc), the person you acknowledge will be more likely to let you know & offer to help.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:22PM
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Join the ground to ground and support the program.

Call the manufacturing places nearby about the program ask them to support the program and ask for for 55 gal plastic drums.

Call the local grocery bakery department about the program and tell them you need empty icing buckets with lids to put the ground in the buckets. Once you got the buckets, call the local gas station manager, fast food store manager or Dunkin Donuts manager to support the program and bring the bucket with lid to the gas station or fast food store or Dunkin Donuts , they will put the ground in the bucket, you can go to the store to pick up the ground about every 3 days, you can switch the empty one with the one full of ground.

I have been picking up the coffee ground in the local gas station since February this year. I went to Starbucks to pick up coffee ground every week too. Sometimes I give them the fresh vegetables in return.

Wear the recycle T-Shirt when you go to the store ask the free stuff.

This post was edited by JCTsai on Sun, Nov 30, 14 at 20:46

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Why are you using that creepy number in your user name?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 4:00PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

What is creepy about 666?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 3:48PM
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Some religions have beliefs about lots of perfectly common things that not everybody would know.
666 is a number between 665 and 667 as far as I'm concerned.

Don't worry about it Raptor.
A couple ideas for you. You could look up what the cooperate polices are for each place your interested in. That gives you a good starting place, and looking things up on the web is sure easier than being tongue tied.

One technique I use to make life simpler on the phone: I can pick a good time, one when I think the party I'm calling is there, but not extra busy. I write down my question and things I want to say in list form. Then when on the phone I can pick and choose for the list, depending on the conversation. Some things on the list don't get used, and important things don't get forgotten. I learned this with my doctors office and expanded it over the years. Less running around, less aggravating moments, and time saved. Most importantly it's better for the stress levels which in turn is better for your over all health.

I totally understand being hesitant asking for free stuff. I'm not one to do it much myself, and for some of the same reasons. Rather be this way than a rude jerk that feels entitled to anything and everything. And believe me, there are plenty of people like that.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by plaidbird on Sun, Jul 6, 14 at 16:23

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 4:16PM
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xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska(5)

You're also educating people. As you ask for a rain barrel, for example, you will probably be describing what a rain barrel is, how you are going to use their barrel to complete it and what value it has. They will look at their trash differently! It may start something with their own employees or they may turn around and offer excess barrels to the community. A big part of asking is being ready to explain--at least for me. I can say, "Can I have your coffee grounds?" People will look at me funny. "Hi. I was wondering if I could have your used coffee grounds. It's great fertilizer for my garden. You would really be helping me out and it's all natural so I don't have to use chemicals." Now you're building connections with them. "If you'd like, I could bring you some cucumbers sometime for your help."
Think of it as making a partnership or a friend.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 3:40PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Don't get creeped out about it! I just go to the deli dept of Winn Dixie and ask if they have any buckets. The lady is so happy when she has some to give away. The same with coffee grounds. So many people tell me that Starbucks gives them away. Just suck it up and go ask. I used to be extremely shy, but I'm the opposite now. I sympathize. I know it has to be hard for you and embarrassing. Just try it a few times and hopefully you will get what you need and be comfortable doing it.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 6:51PM
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CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Starbuck's used to have a program called "Grounds for Improvement." They actually packaged the grounds and put them by the front door (at least here in MD) for anyone to take. I don't know if they still do.

When I do go now, I let them know not to worry about the filters, either. They're biodegradable. The kids who were picking them out of the grounds were very happy to hear that. Who isn't happier with less work?

I'm sure you've done some asking by now, but as a shy or reserved person, there's something you might not be comfortable doing, but can make all the difference in the world: MAKE EYE CONTACT. Smile, and don't mutter. As mentioned above, even if they don't help you, thank them for their time.

I just built a raised bed and brought home 12 pickle buckets full of coffee and tea grounds. With filters. They want me to take more! Go figure.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 8:57PM
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When I stop to pick up OPBL (Other People's Bagged Leaves), I always look around to see if the homeowner is outside.

If I see someone, I say hi & ask if I can have their bagged leaves for my garden.

The other day, I looked but didn't see anybody.
I was putting the last bag into the car when someone said, "Can I help you?"

I laughed a little bit & said, "Oops, I didn't see you. Whenever I see bags of leaves at the curb, I get them for my garden."

You gotta figure, people don't realize (the first time) that you're a harmless garden freak/compost wacko.

In these days of identity theft & bank fraud, they just see someone going through their trash.

I've *never* had anyone be anything other than nice when they know what I'm doing.

& even after I tell them how wonderful leaves are for the lawn/garden/soil/life on earth, nobody's ever asked me to give their leaves back.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2014 at 3:52PM
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missymoo23_(z9a_Tx)(z9a Tx)

There was a thread on my community FB page about a lady going through peoples garbage and for everyone to be aware. I thought about enlightening people about composting leaves....but figured this was probably a different situation. I have yet to pick up the neighbors' leaf bags, this reminds me to ask first! Don't worry Sylvia...I don't think it was you!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Most people are so happy to get those bags of leaves from in front of their house, esp. if their is a chance for the bags to break open.

It makes some people happy to be able to make YOU happy by giving you something that they'd throw away anyway - esp. if you tell them you are trying to get healthy by growing your own veggies. A few may act like it is a bother, but, for those people, walking from one side of the room to the other is a bother !

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 4:54PM
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I tend to think that it does not matter what they think unless it will affect wether or not you will get the item. Just asking should not affect that liklyhood. It really does not matter because, chances are, you will never see them again. And if you do, will they really recognize you and care that you asked for coffee grounds. That said, I understand not wanting people to be bothered or think that you are strange. Just remember that it will only be a few minutes out of their day and they may be happy to help you. Go and ask, what is the worst that can happen.

I hope that you have success getting hold of these peoples "garbage."


    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 5:03PM
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