Have you ever been tempted to grab a stylish, forsaken chair or couch off of the curb and make it your own? “That’d look better in my living room than wasting away in a dumpster,” you might think.
You’re not alone. Stooping is a rising trend across North America, and it benefits everyone –– people with too much stuff, people with too little, and everyone who seeks to waste as little as possible.
“Stooping is the sourcing of free items left out on the street as trash, or sourcing of items that have been left out in the hopes that they will be stooped by a stooper,” as The Sorry Girls explain in an Instagram reel.
In this context, “stooper” doesn’t refer to someone with bad posture or a lowered moral code, as traditional definitions of the word may suggest –– instead, it’s someone who reclaims items on the street that have been discarded from their previous homes. It’s a win-win transaction that’s entirely free of charge.
Stooping has existed for as long as curbs and trash, but it’s becoming increasingly trendy in the digital era. Dedicated stooping social media accounts like @stoopingnyc and @stooping_toronto post pictures and detailed locations of stoopable items in their respective cities, making it easy for locals to track down and claim the products.
The biggest stooping accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers, signifying that social media users are hungry to take part in the stooping revolution.
Stooping has the potential to radically transform the furniture industry. The EPA reports that furniture waste now exceeds 12 million tons per year, with 80% of furniture waste ending up in landfills.
Like the clothing world, the furniture industry has a massive problem with fast fashion, which means that products are designed to be quickly replaced by flashier, trendier updates. Sustainability expert Ashlee Piper estimates that “most of the furniture currently cluttering dumps was made within the last 10 to 15 years,” according to Architectural Digest.
By stooping, however, you can save a portion of that waste from the landfill. Whether you’re getting rid of unwanted furniture or looking for new decor on a budget, stooping can help extend the life cycle of items great and small –– and indirectly connect you with past and future owners, too.
“There is something wonderful about the concept that, whether it is conscious or not, people are putting these items out to give them a chance to be reused … in turn giving people a chance to decorate their homes and make new memories with the finds,” the anonymous team behind @stoopingnyc told Vogue.
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