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Dumpster Diving or Just Another Freegan Hub!

Updated on June 12, 2012
Freegan in Action
Freegan in Action | Source

Now here’s a hub I never thought I’d write, but this had to be done. Last week I sat at the table of a very affluent couple discussing their pension for dumpster diving. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This couple made frequent trips around town checking out dumpsters and they were finding some really good stuff! They toured me around their home looking at floor lamps, office equipment, even laptops they’d pulled out of dumpsters. My thought was “why would anyone through this stuff away!”

I’m not unfamiliar with the principals behind dumpster diving. When I was a kid my mother would take us to the landfill every Saturday to see what was good at the dump. You’d pull in with your garbage, or what you thought was garbage and all the neighbors would come over and go through it. The trash made its way to the garbage pit and the rest was either toted away or put in a pile for someone else to go through. Inevitably we’d come home with a trunk full of stuff from the dump. Whether it be pickle jars we’d use to make chick waterers or a bike that someone outgrew, we would always come home with something. Then in the evening we’d pop some corn and head back to the dump to watch the bears. Now I sound like a redneck don’t I. We didn’t have a theater to go to so we had to do something and it was free.

Today you can’t pick threw most landfills, nor would you want to, but dumpsters are fare game in most cities. From the research I’ve done on the subject there are a lot of people out there taking advantage of the free items in the giant metal receptacles. MY brother-in-law dumpsters dives around the local college campus looking for free household items. He’s always bragging about the lamp he found or even the clothing he pulled from the jaws of the dumpster. Why not………’s free!

Today an entire subculture has evolved around dumpster diving. They call themselves “freegans”. The freegan philosophy is that in this disposable society one can live off the land via dumpster diving. Not only do these folks pull clothing and household items out of the dumpsters, they also retrieve food! Yes I said food. Now I’ve done some things I’m not proud off trying to be frugal, but I have never pulled food out of a dumpster. I did meet a man once who went behind the local grocery store the day after Thanksgiving and pulled dozens of frozen turkeys out of the dumpster. He did this every year.

Quite often a store will realize that there is no way they can sell all of a perishable item before its expiration date so instead of dropping the price they throw the item away. To me and you that seems ridiculous, but to the business owner they’d rather dispose of an item than have their customers remember that low price for the next twelve months. Freegans love this as now they have more free goods to scavenge.

Here are some pointers I’ve learned about dumpster diving from those in the know. If you are dumpster diving around apartment or housing complexes the first of the month is a great time to dive. A lot of people move around the first of the month and what tenants can’t take with them goes in the dumpster. Similarly, the end of school is a great time to dumpster dive in campuses. Many students throw out what they can’t take with them. From what I understand students throw out computers, furniture, clothing, mini-fridges, anything that won’t fit in their car when they leave. Grocers dump their produce each night while department stores may dump at any time. As you can see good dumpster diving is all about timing!

Another time to consider is spring and fall cleanups. Many cities offer these in an effort to clean up their town. Anything and everything hits the curb during these cleanups. I put a wheel barrow with a broken handle and holey tub on the curb one year. The next morning I looked and the tire was gone. I went down the road and brought home a grill. It wasn’t pretty, but it cooked just fine.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Dumpster Diving Poll

IDumpster Diving

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    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I will definitely do that!

    • RunAbstract profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      There's always the "freecycle" groups to post items on when they still have some use left in them.

      I have given and received many things via freecycle. Hope you check it out!

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      We did the same thing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We'd set something out and watch through the window until someone would sneak off with our junk. LOL

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      In San Diego and Sacramento people just leave stuff they don't want out by the sidewalk. Generally it's gone in a couple of hours.

    • RunAbstract profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      My friend once got livingroom furniture in great shape from a bank dumpster. They were refurnishing the lobby, and the stuff they threw out was really NICE!

      I dumpster dive AND curb surf! It's fun and sometimes profitable. Plus anything still usable really doesn't need to end up in our landfills.

      Good Hub! Voted up and more!

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      A buddy of mine works on a local campus. He picked up a car for $50 at the end of the school year in 2011. It's amazing what these kids throw away!

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      I work at an apartment complex and the maintenance guys, one in particular, do the dive first thing in the morning. It is especially profitable for him after the weekends. I think it's the main reason he likes his job-LOL. Great hub.

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      6 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      If you can get to a college campus at the end of the quarter, semester, or whatever, students unload a lot of good stuff. Usually the office equipment is the best.

      In my particular city people aren't allowed to pick through the piles - they are referred to as scavengers. It's ashame, but I think it has to do with liability law. I enjoyed this. Good job.


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