Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dumpster Diving Update: Inspiring You to Keep Digging


It's been a while since I've updated you on my Dumpster Diving adventures! I don't dive often due to lack of time and space, but I fit in an impromptu dive last Friday with my pal Birdie. (Finds pictured above- excluding a vintage dining table!) I'm proud to encourage people to maximize our resources. I enjoy each kindred dumpster diving spirit I meet through this blog.

Most of my long-time best friends tolerate my eccentricities...but they all stop at the dumpster diving. They just will not join me even at the cleanest dumpsters behind tidy thrift stores.

That's the status quo, most people are above curbside hunting and trash picking. But that just leaves more for us, doesn't it?


Back in February when I wrote my Dumpster Diving Guide (Dumpster Diving Tips for the Uninitiated and Hopelessly Cheap) I received an inspiring e-mail from a Husband and Wife Lindsay and Matt (here's their blog). Matt said:
My wife subscribes to your blog and showed me your post on dumpster diving for food. I decided to give it a try and the past few nights have been a success. Thought I’d send a pic of our finds! Many things aren't even pictured! 

Behold the glorious photo of their dived bounty! I love being a sneaky little dumpster diving instigator. Yes, my friend, get thee to the trash for treasures! I'll share more of their finds in the next dumpster diving update, they've been hunting and finding wondrous goodies ever since they read my post.

(In Lindsay's last e-mail she told me: "We've gotten: a brand new carpet cleaner, new steam cleaner, a power washer, a brand new Little Tykes car for our 1 year old, tons of fresh flowers and plants, every fresh fruit and veggie you can think of, canned goods, cereal, and granola bars, soda, drinks...")

[ From Birdie's Life Journal Comic, The Haiku Life. Us at the Dumpster, finding goods! ]

Now that I've inspired you to check out the trash in your own areas, here's the tools of the trade:


  • Bright Flashlights: to easily see the goods in the dumpsters
  • Step ladder: for nonathletic shorties like myself to hop in and out of the dumpster.
  • Rainboots and Gloves: Makes dumpster diving less icky for the squeamish.
  • Sturdy Boxes: For your finds
  • Tool Box and Tools: For disassembling furniture if necessary. (I have a small car!)
  • Hand Sanitizer/Wipes: again, for the squeamish among us.
  • Box Cutter: For getting things open if necessary.

And Remember the important cardinal rules of diving:

  • Take what you want, but use what you take
  • Leave the area cleaner than when you arrived

What are your Dumpster Diving Tips and Questions? Any inspiring stories of your own to share?
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21 comments:

  1. The last time I went dumpster diving I jumped in and it took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to get out. I scored about 8 huge picture frames I've yet to do anything with. No more for me unless it's right on top or with another fellow diver.

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  2. There are no dumpsters to dive around here. :(
    The one behind work is filled with bad food and actual rubbish I know because I put it in there!

    Jealous of your awesome finds!

    E :)

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  3. I never did it, so far, but here in Amsterdam is a kind of tradition I would say.

    Every neighbourhood has a special day of the week when in the evening you can put on the street WHATEVER you want...I saw entire living rooms on the pavement sometimes, really.

    I don't know about food, but for funiture can be really interesting!
    Sometimes I see people going around with their car on tuesday night -my neighbourhood day- checking.
    Some friends of mine almost furnished their new appartments when they didn't have money enough to buy furniture :)

    It's a very democratic, and environment helpful, habit to me.
    And no wonders if many of the thrift stores in the city find their goods this way ;)

    Another time I'll tell you about what happens the 30th of April in Holland, you would love it!

    Ciao.

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  4. Tonia: That was one thing I left out, I think you should always dive with a friend just in case! I've never gone alone.

    I'm very ungraceful going in and out of dumpsters, too. ;) I'm not a good climber, I sucked in gym class.

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  5. Vintage Sweetheart: Sometimes a dumpster you're used to will yield treasures, others times it will just be rubbish. Just like thrifting.

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  6. Marco- I would LOVE to see that and wish they did the same here. Although if you drive around the right areas you can find amazing goodies on trash day!

    I see hunters scouring for curbside goodies all the time.

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  7. I'm all for dumpster diving for food, but let me warn you - bagged lettuce is a breeding ground for salmonella. I'd pass it up. Otherwise, send some bread this way!

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  8. Barb: Thank you for the kind tip!

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  9. I live in a college town, and every year around this time the leases come up and the college kids are all moving out and moving in, so the dumpsters and curbs around town are overflowing with the contents of their apartments.

    You would not believe what these kids throw out ~ entire households full of furniture, clothing, household goods, artwork, luggage, sports equipment, vintage items, you name it. It's like they're starting over every time they move! AMAZING stuff can be found.

    In our home we are currently using two sets of new-in-box IKEA wall shelves that I found in a college dumpster. Last year I found and resold a pair of designer boots ($36), an antique mirror ($25), a large floral painting ($30), and countless other household items and tchotchkes. My mother-in-law, who has refined the art of dumpster diving and taught me well, found a mid-century modern armchair by a well-known designer in perfect condition and resold it for $325!

    I love dumpster diving ~ it's free and it's exciting because you never know what treasures you may find, but best of all I'm helping to save space in the landfill by giving good, usable items a second chance.

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  10. Sounds like I need to hit up apartments near colleges for goodies next, Heather. I need to fine tune it into an art like you've described here!

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  11. I use to get some very nice things when I lived in Southern California, a cedar chest, 1030s floor lamp and fabric covered rocking chair, some beautiful rayon and velvet scrap fabric, hand painted watercolor pictures to name a few treasures.

    Here, in Southern Oregon, also a University town, most people just set their stuff out by the road with a free sign on it, or list in on Craigslist. So every now and then I'll pick something up.

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  12. Wow, it's amazing what other will throw away. It really breaks your heart to think what a terrible waste these items would be if left for the landfill. I was very upset at work the other day, actually. One of our freezers went down over the weekend and we couldn't chance selling a lot of the items we didn't have space to move elsewhere. I was the lucky person who had to scan it out for damages and throw it down the compactor. The total? $1500 of previously frozen/then defrosted/then refrozen product. What a shame.

    <3Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!
    http://LetsGoThrifting.blogspot.com

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  13. Victoria: That's one thing I keep forgetting to do, need to make a habit of checking out the Craigslist "free" section.

    Jackie: That's heartbreaking! I hate witnessing food waste!

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  14. Van - I haven't been digging into any dumpsters in a awhile, but I have been lucky enough to be given things from people donating stuff from behind the Goodwill. The employee didn't mind and the person was glad to give the items away. :)

    -pamela
    mybooth96.blogspot.com

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  15. I deliver mail, so I'm always scoping out peoples trash cans on trash day-just recently I found a lighted globe that worked, and a few other smalls that were useable. Unfortunately a lot of the buisnesses around here frown on people poking around their dumpsters, most are locked, and our local landfill has a NO DIVING policy, a true shame 'cuz I've seen some wonderful stuff go to waste. If I could I would hang out at the end of the dump road and flag down trucks as they entered....:)

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  16. Pam: Lucky indeed!

    Lori: I love those lighted globes, awesome find! I hate seeing useful items go to waste too, at least we're around to scoop some of them up!

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  17. I am so jealous! Down here in Melbourne we have no dumspters to dive into - only garbage dumpsters full of rubbish ( I mean dirty nappies, food etc). The local council has even stopped hard rubbish - so I can't even dive along the curbside. BOOOO!

    B.

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  18. It never ceases to amaze me what gets thrown away. It's getting a little harder here in australia to even pick things up from the curbside as laws are in place to prevent that kind of thing. One guy was recently arrested and charged with theft for picking up some hard rubbish left out for council pickup. It's just insane!!

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  19. Talking about curbside goodies, there is a site for that: curbsidegoodies.com :)

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  20. Don't miss the opportunity to dive in Melbourne.

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  21. By telling them that you are going to be an on-going customer (needing 3 containers or more) then you are opening the door for them to try and KEEP you so that you can pay THEM instead of someone else dumpsters

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