You are here

How to dumpster dive

Dumpster diving is practised all throughout the world by people of all classes, whether they are poor or well off. In a nutshell it's the practice of going other peoples trash, both commercial and residential. The motto used by dumpster divers is akin to "what's somebody's trash is somebody else's treasure".

There are now thousands of blogs about the subject and even reality television shows about dumpster divers. Some people even dumpster dive for food(a.k.a. freegans) knowing that grocery stores dump out a lot of food that hasn't yet spoiled, or is just about to and still edible.

Dumpster diving methods

Contrary to what most perceive it as, there is an art and science to dumpster diving, it's not just going through trash.

How can you make money dumpster diving

  • scrap metal
  • reselling goods that you find
  • using other people used items instead of buying new stuff
  • a lot of old electronics have gold in them

What is the legality

The legal aspects differ between countries and the the states/provinces within those countries. One reason that the law has a problem with dumpster diving is that it's a common way for people to commit identity theft since people throw away mail, used bills and bank statements in their trash.

It's always best practice to not rummage through peoples trash bags, it's obvious that they want those to be disposed of. If people are okay with you taking their items they will usually leave them on the curb away from actual trash. If the items are on the curb than it's public land and you can take it away, if it's on private land than you can be charged for theft, burglary and trespassing.

Things you should not dumpster dive for

  • bedding and mattresses, they can have bedbugs and other disgusting things in them
  • anything with a foul odor, this could mean that it's infested with bacteria or mold
  • be careful as some people may toss out needles or other sharp objects

You would be amazed at what people throw away

People throw away a lot of really good stuff from brand new clothing to completely working game consoles, televisions and computers. Perfectly good furniture is a common item people throw away and sports equipment that they don't use any more or don't have room for.

How to find good stuff

  • network with other divers to find the best things and spots in your city
  • look inside those big over sized bins near businesses for larger items
  • check online - there are many dumpster diving websites to help others find good spots