Dumpster Diving - Mothering Forums

Dumpster Diving

Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea (TS)
09:15 AM Liked: 58
#1 of 22
05-03-2011 | Posts: 931
Joined: Apr 2010

Saw an article on here about a woman who started dumpster diving  for food after losing her job.  Anyone on here ever done it - for food or other items?  What was your best find?  If you haven't done it - would you if you needed to?

Amatullah0's Avatar Amatullah0
10:16 AM Liked: 38
#2 of 22
05-03-2011 | Posts: 868
Joined: Apr 2009

DH wont let me lol.gif so I haven't. I used to lurk on a dumpster diving forum though, and they know which dumpsters are "hot" when, and go then. I've seen photos of some great finds!

smilingsara's Avatar smilingsara
10:33 AM Liked: 31
#3 of 22
05-03-2011 | Posts: 704
Joined: Feb 2010
I got a bed side table for a friend once. It was when I lived in Pittsburgh, and there were always people moving and getting rid of stuff. A lot of my school friends used to do it. They would drive around college neighborhoods on trash day and score lots of great stuff. And then it was rumored that a great pizza by the slice place used to box up the stuff they didn't sell and put it on top of their dumpsters at night. It was supposed to be for hOmeless people but I think others would help themselves too.
08:16 AM Liked: 79
#4 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 4,669
Joined: Jan 2004

I was talking chicken with a lady in a store,and she recommended getting food scraps for the hens. I have yet to do it.My brother has done it for food. I have stopped by peoples homes to pick up stuff,and have put out things for people to hopefully take before garbage day.


My mom always finds great furniture and she got a huge load of green house supplies once. I was happy to find a bag of miracle grow and some annuals people tossed. I always joke that I will go off the road trying to look at peoples garbage when I drive by!

crunchy_mommy's Avatar crunchy_mommy
02:04 PM Liked: 562
#5 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 6,460
Joined: Mar 2009
I have yet to work up the courage to actually climb into a dumpster. I'm not sure it's legal here (at the very least, I'm worried about store owners getting upset or whatever!)

I do regularly drive around on trash day & pick up random things... I've gotten a desk, baskets for DS's toys, outdoor toys for DS, a boat (a dingy... that was fun getting home!), a chair, etc... just all sorts of things. I think it's great fun... I keep meaning to drive 'round my friend's neighborhood sometime because her neighbors seem to throw out really really nice stuff!!!
stormborn's Avatar stormborn
02:19 PM Liked: 1529
#6 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 2,695
Joined: Dec 2001

There aren't many unlocked dumpsters around here, but I get some great stuff from the curb!


You might like this essay~http://producer.csi.edu/cdraney/archive-courses/fall07/engl102/e-texts/eighner-dumpster.htm

Adaline'sMama's Avatar Adaline'sMama
02:21 PM Liked: 1132
#7 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 4,757
Joined: Apr 2010
Sure, I did it for years. I will say, I always stay away from restaurants that arent pizza joints. Wash the food really really well, and make sure to wash your hands too! Dumpsters are filthy, but here in America, people throw away a ridiculous amount of food. Ive always tried to stick to health food stores, locally owned grocery stores, and the produce distributer for restaurants. These people almost never have compactors, and plus, they arent usually as grumpy when they catch you in the act. Most of the time, when you get caught, they just tell you to leave. Sometimes they will actually give you a whole box of food that they are about to toss.
Caneel's Avatar Caneel
02:25 PM Liked: 183
#8 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 3,835
Joined: Jun 2007

The grocery stores in my area keep their dumpsters behind locked fences with No Trespassing signs.   They say it is for liability reasons. 


Where my mom lives, there is a certain spot on the road where people put out their unwanted stuff for the taking.  Not just during a set clean-up period but all year long.  Sort of a community pre-dumpster shot at finding something good, it is pretty cool.


This is a fascinating book about dumpster diving and other less-than-conventional ways of supporting a family - Perishable: A Memoir by Dirk Jamison.


He had a piece on This American Life http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/62/something-for-nothing


I recycling bin dive for newspapers.  There is a place on my way home that gives away free national papers to the customers and I will take the "used" papers out of the recycling bin.



Jenni1894's Avatar Jenni1894
09:16 PM Liked: 44
#9 of 22
05-04-2011 | Posts: 282
Joined: Apr 2011

I have never actually jumped in a dumpster.......But I've scored 2 powerwheels, a bike, a little tikes vanity and plastic climber/slide from peoples curbs!  I would go looking for food if I had too though.  



Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea (TS)
08:30 AM Liked: 58
#10 of 22
05-05-2011 | Posts: 931
Joined: Apr 2010

I really want to try it.  I was reading a few blogs and forums on it.  One lady gets a lot of pet supplies from a dumpster behind a pet store - like full bags of food and litter.  I think I'd pick those up just to donate to shelters.  Some people get crazy and keep the things they find in storage lockers or sell a lot of it on ebay/craigslist.  I don't have time or space for that.  I've definitely picked stuff up off the curb though.

wendyland's Avatar wendyland
09:37 AM Liked: 12
#11 of 22
05-05-2011 | Posts: 1,715
Joined: Apr 2003

I was really inspired by the article.  I told my husband about it and he confessed that last fall he rode his bike past a fried chicken place that had just closed.  He found a bag of still warm chicken and ate some.  He didn't tell me because he thought I'd freak out.  On the contrary... I'm ready to go by there tonight.  I'd love to find some free chicken to make a stock out of. 


He also found a nice set of walkie talkies a couple years ago in a dumpster.  We've tried to scout out some good dumpsters around here, but so many are locked up.  I used to get books at Borders dumpsters years ago.  They would tear the front cover off and dump them. 

carfreemama's Avatar carfreemama
12:48 PM Liked: 23
#12 of 22
05-05-2011 | Posts: 1,506
Joined: Jun 2007

We live in a place with a major bedbug problem. Do any of the dumpster diving sites address this? It's my biggest hesitation.

meemee's Avatar meemee
01:03 PM Liked: 1878
#13 of 22
05-05-2011 | Posts: 12,623
Joined: Mar 2005

to be really honest i just cannot bring myself to do this. for food. i just cannot eat out of the dumpster. however i will take seconds and even take it from the store before they throw their produce into the trash. but no i will not dumpster dive for food. 


oh absolutely i will pick up stuff from the curbside and even dumpster dive for stuff - just not food. if i see anything that catches my eye. but i have never specifically gone dumpster diving. 


its also the reason why i dont work in cooking shows anymore. i cant handle all the wastage of food. ENORMOUS wastage of food. 


stormborn that essay was a moving experience many years ago when i read it. 

wendyland's Avatar wendyland
09:21 AM Liked: 12
#14 of 22
05-06-2011 | Posts: 1,715
Joined: Apr 2003

I did it!!  It was so much fun.  Today is move out day for the local college.  We got a big storage box full of blankets, sheets, a lamp, a laptop case, two brand new locks.  Then, we went by a local music store and found a nice soft guitar case and a whole bunch of amp cords.  We're going back to the dorms later. 


I went by myself last night & scoped some places out, but didnt find anything.  I really needed a flashlight.  I did find some places I'll go back to.

Katie T's Avatar Katie T
11:00 PM Liked: 25
#15 of 22
05-06-2011 | Posts: 2,485
Joined: Nov 2008

My husbands friend went through is fathers house after he died and put a ton of great stuff in his dumpster at his business. He called my DH and told him to get what he wanted out and we scored a brand new still with price tags ($100) down comforter, leather jacket and lots of other nice stuff. I don't know that I would do it now as it is a half hour drive to anywhere with good stuff to dive for but as a kid I got a radio out of a dumpster and it worked great I had it for years. My MIL does it all the time. She delivers for a service and is mainly in campus town and scouts things out while working and then goes back later. She has gotten really nice dressers amongst other things.

happysmileylady's Avatar happysmileylady
01:32 PM Liked: 113
#16 of 22
05-07-2011 | Posts: 1,193
Joined: Feb 2009

Nope, I just cannot bring myself to hit up actual dumpsters or trash cans for stuff.  I will do recycle bins for coupons.  I will do the freecycle thing, the curb alert off CL thing, I will snag things from work or whatever before they hit the dumpster.  But, once something is actually IN a trash can or dumpster, I just can't do it.  Dumpsters are full of so much gross stuff, they are never washed out and I just get the skeevies just thinking about actually pulling something out of an actual dumpster. 

wendyland's Avatar wendyland
08:15 PM Liked: 12
#17 of 22
05-08-2011 | Posts: 1,715
Joined: Apr 2003

So far, the dumpsters around here have been surprisingly clean and we've barely had to reach in to get stuff out.  

sweetpeppers's Avatar sweetpeppers
09:06 PM Liked: 11
#18 of 22
05-10-2011 | Posts: 836
Joined: Dec 2007

I want to. I'm too chicken.:P I've gotten boxes out of dumpsters actually.

hildare's Avatar hildare
10:50 AM Liked: 382
#19 of 22
05-14-2011 | Posts: 2,680
Joined: Jul 2009

yes.. dh and i and most of our friends have dived for food.  many many times.

the best place was a health food store that didn't compact.  they would throw out things that were slightly wilted, slightly bruised.  i can't even say how much food we found and cooked over the two years we lived in town and did that... loads of apples to make applesauce, expensive jars of things, slightly expired fancy cereals, chocolates, cookies, etc. 

it was so fun. 

also good: behind the pizza place, and behind the donut shop.  they throw out whole pizzas at the end of the night and bags of donuts. 

kitchensqueen's Avatar kitchensqueen
01:37 PM Liked: 5361
#20 of 22
05-14-2011 | Posts: 3,481
Joined: Feb 2006

Living in a huge city near a major university, furniture is usually a good score during spring move out when the dorms close, and at the end of every month when apartment leases are up. We currently have a very nice desk that we picked up in January next to an apartment dumpster near our house. In the past, we've obtained two formica dining tables, a small wooden dresser, plant pots, books, brand-new yarn, magazines, kitchenware, etc. We've found that if people really are going to throw out usable items, they'll place them on top of or next to the dumpster, or at least put them in their own bags.


When I was in high school, my friends and I used to dumpster dive at a Hostess factory - tons of day-old doughnuts, snack cakes and bread in their packaging. I haven't dumpster dived for food since then, but I wouldn't hesitate to if we really needed to eat. We live in such a consumerist/wasteful society that most of the food in the dumpsters shouldn't even be there in the first place. I'd hesitate on meats and perishables, but canned and dry goods I'd certainly grab if we needed to fill the pantry.

kitchensqueen's Avatar kitchensqueen
01:41 PM Liked: 5361
#21 of 22
05-14-2011 | Posts: 3,481
Joined: Feb 2006

Oh, and for anyone that's interested - the book The Art & Science of Dumpster Diving is a great read. I came across it way back in high school, and that's how I got my friends into the Hostess factory dives.

RoamingWidgeteer's Avatar RoamingWidgeteer
02:30 PM Liked: 12
#22 of 22
05-14-2011 | Posts: 92
Joined: Jan 2010

Almost my entire canning jar collection is from the recycling depot and Freecycle :-D


I've never gone into dumpsters for food, but I used to cycle through the back alleys and when I found fruit trees not being picked, I'd knock on the door and ask if I could have some apples/pears/cherries ...  

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