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Garbage Picking for Profit

Updated on February 27, 2011

What is Garbage Picking?

Garbage-Picking (curb crawling, dumpster diving, or trash casher) is the act of taking another person's garbage that still may have value. When someone puts garbage cans out on the curb, by law they are open to the public to take (not the cans themselves, but their contents). Dumpsters and other public waste places are as well. This article will show you how to make money from this 'business.'

What do I need to do to get started?

This depends on what your after, if anything in particular. I personally use my friend's pickup truck so I never run out of space. I would also suggest long sleeve shirts and gloves for health reasons. Besides that all you need is a plan!

What do I look for?

  1. Furniture- couches, tables, benches, chairs, desks
  2. Appliances- washers, dryers, microwaves, computers, etc.
  3. Sporting goods
  4. Holiday items- boxes, ornaments, lights
  5. Anything of potential value, really


Where do I go?

This is important to succeed. You need to go to a wealthy, high class neighborhood. Usually these people have enough money not to bother with selling old furniture, appliances, etc on Ebay or Craigslist. Going to a lower class town will defeat the whole purpose and offer more competition to find items. 99% of garbage pickers aren't exactly living large.

When do I go?

This part is also crucial and different for each person. Go out the night before or the morning of 'heavy pickup' day. This is when people curb their furniture, heavy electronics, and other large items such as wood and rugs. In my town Wednesday is 'heavy pickup' day, so Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I am out with my pickup truck.
Even holidays offer much potential. Before and after Christmas is usually a gold mine. People throw out things that aren't even broken! Ornaments, lights, boxes, the opportunities are endless.
Another time to go is around the time high school and, particularly, college ends. College dorm appliances (mini-refrigerators, desks, lamps, storage boxes) are thrown in in great shape.

General Tips

  • Stay away from dumpsters or dumps. It is just disgusting
  • Bring towels or sheets. Don't scratch your car!
  • Just take it. Don't worry about a broken part or if it works or not. Chances are the rich family was too lazy to buy the $5 replacement part. Plus the more you pick, the more potential replacement parts you can salvage. Even better, as you probably have done before, most parents, in anger and frustration, will throw out an item the kids don't use anymore. This item is probably in excellent shape!
  • Leave kitchen trash bags and anything related to beds alone. Its just gross.
  • Don't buy replacement parts or fix an item until you know the potential profit. Don't spend a week repairing a table that is worth nothing!


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    • dragonflyfla profile image

      dragonflyfla 5 years ago from South Florida

      I will grab items I see - fix them up and sell them on craigslist. I don't go looking though, I did for about a month and stopped. I won't grab beds or couches or anything like that for the chance of bugs. Dressers, desk etc are great. The artist in me loves to play with it to see what I can do.

    • profile image

      Ronda 6 years ago

      I'm looking for metals there is money to be back. THanks

    • the50marathons17 profile image

      Michael 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Don, I could see construction sites being a great place to check out dumpsters. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Don 6 years ago

      I personally have found many good things in dumpster containers, especially roll off dumpsters at construction sites.

    • the50marathons17 profile image

      Michael 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Very true gion.

    • gion profile image

      gion 6 years ago

      If you live in a city, Late June, when the colleges are out, is a great time to explore. A lot of foreign students will buy everything while they are here, and just leave it on the curb, perfectly, or mostly fine, when they go home.

    • the50marathons17 profile image

      Michael 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Your welcome! I'm glad you liked it.