First of all, if you are the accident prone type, careless or just plain not to bright – don’t even try this one. you could get hurt putting your hand in some stinky old trash container, not to mention assaulted if you are invading someones private trash stash. For the rest of you, we don’t recommend this.
For dumpster diving to be safe and rewarding you need to properly plan, prepare and proceed carefully. These tips will get you going.
What type of trash are you looking for?
Not all dumpsters are the same, some can be really nasty and provide little if any benefit and some can be cleaner and more rewarding. You should never even consider dumpster diving restaurants, animal clinics or medical businesses – Anything you find in these dumpsters will probably make you sick. Better dumpsters are those that belong to strip mall retailers, and other businesses that sell a variety of goods. Consider what you are looking for and visit the dumpsters of stores that carry those items. Apartment complexes and student housing dumpsters can be rewarding or very gross, it really depends on the day – they are the pot luck of dumpsters.
Timing is everything
After you start diving for goodies you may learn that you are not the only one doing it, and there could be competition in your area – these others may not be regular divers, but just opportunistic individuals who come across things before you do. Know when the trash picks occur for the dumpsters you will visit and it also helps to know when the dumpsters are filled as well. Some dumpsters can be seasonal. I’ve found that student housing dumpsters can be very profitable at the end of school semesters when students unload things that they cannot use take or store before going home. Apartment complexes are generally more profitable right before the end of the month when people will be moving out. Seasonal busnesses may throw out some items when they do a changeover to a new seasons products.
Keep Safety First
We call it dumpster diving, but don’t ever actually dive into one – that would be insane and could seriously injure you since dumpsters often contain sharp pointy objects such as twisted metal, nails sticking through broken boards and broken glass. Get a nice pair of thick gloves and long sleeved coat and long pants that can afford to get dirty, you probably won’t feel right wearing them again for any other purpose. Also you will want some good shoes or boots with steel toes and shank for protection – The area around a dumpster can be just as dangerous as inside the dumpster. Take a buddy and a cell phone, you will need the buddy to call for help on your cell phone if you get hurt. Also take a flashlight, so you can get a good look at something and ask yourself the all important question before grabbing it – “Do I really want to touch that?” Don’t eat anything you find in a dumpster unless you are a cat or a racoon, someone put it there for a reason.
Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Your Area?
Make sure dumpster diving is not outlawed in your area before attempting it, the last thing you want is to get arrested for tresspassing in a dumpster and being mocked by the cops, family and friends.
Here is a list of items I have found while dumpster diving:
12 man tent
4 man river raft – needed some patching
tomato plants – gave them to a friend who planted them.
computer – was able to get it working
working computer monitors – resold these
working vacuum cleaner
textbooks and computer books
other furniture (don’t get beds, you might get bedbugs with them)
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