Dumpster Diving: Is it for You?

When we hear the words “dumpster diving”, two thoughts might come to mind. One might think of a dumpster as a treasure chest waiting to be opened, with new and exciting treasures to be found daily. On the other extreme, one might immediately think of a gross and dirty place, wondering how anyone could even fathom *diving* into such a place!

If one were to ask a dumpster diver why or how they could do such a thing, they’d most likely say that the pros for dumpster diving far outweigh the cons. Listen to them list their *treasures* found on a dive, and you might quickly understand the fun and excitement of diving into dumpsters, not to mention adding up how much money a diver saves.

When one speaks of dumpster diving, it’s actually just a term used for people that look through dumpsters for things. However, it is also important to understand that there are actually divers out there who take the term literally and really dive into dumpsters.

So just what have divers found when diving into a dumpster?

New carpeting


Clothing (new and used)

Food (unopened…how many starving people are in the world?)

Party supplies


Pillows, new in packaging

New shavers, still in package

Craft items

Cat treats galore, unopened


Down comforter

New bath towels

Fold up chairs

This is just a partial listing of goodies divers have found while out on their great dumpster diving expedition. The reality is that there is an endless supply of treasures just waiting to be saved from dumpsters! But is this life for you?

One of the questions I often ask myself is this: Why do stores (and people in general), throw away perfectly good items, some even brand new? That’s a good question, and one that I have no answer for. Why not just give the items to someone in need? Especially the food! Why do stores throw out unopened, unspoiled, good food, when there are so many hungry people in the world?

Dumpster divers can be seen as people that want to save and use these perfectly good items. The country is filled with trash. Shocking news is that much of this *trash* is reusable, and even new!

Today, I read an article about a young lady that furnished almost her entire apartment from treasures found while dumpster diving. A little soap and water, and she saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars!

If the idea of dumpster diving brings to mind gross and dirty thoughts, think again. One would be very surprised at how clean most dumpsters behind grocery and clothing stores are. It’s actually no different than accidentally dropped a bag of groceries on the ground and picking them back up again.

The question many people ask is….would you eat food out of a dumpster? While the words sound very gross, it depends on a person’s preferences. Some draw the line at food, and some know that the food is unopened and therefore fresh and clean. If the dumpster is clean inside, and the food is unopened and is sealed, many divers see nothing wrong with it.

There are a few simple precautions a diver or potential diver should always take when going on a treasure hunt. Always be sure that you are not trespassing or breaking into a locked dumpster. While some divers do open a locked dumpster, I personally recommend not doing that. Of course, if you do and find wonderful treasures, that’s great too! Always wash and clean any finds. Yes, some people forget this part! Never take any food that is opened or not sealed, or that has expired dates (even if unopened).

If you are concerned about sanitation, take rubber gloves with you and wear. Another good idea is to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you. To keep from having to actually climb into the dumpster, take a grabbing stick with you. These can be purchased for about $10, unless you’re lucky enough to find one on a treasure hunt.

An important thing to remember is that if you are diving, and the police pull up and question you, always cooperate. No amount of diving is worth jail!

When diving, it’s a good idea to travel in pairs, especially if hunting at night. Take a flashlight, peek into dumpsters before diving head first into them, take a stick to whop anyone that might jump out of the dumpster after you, and have gas in the get away car.

Dumpster diving can be a fun and very rewarding pastime. While it is not for everyone, it is a great way to save an enormous amount of money. For items you find that are just not for you, have a yard sale!

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