Making Money With Dumpster Diving
Dumpster Diving? Seriously.
Dumpster diving is exactly what it sounds like, although many families have more personal names for it. We call it "shopping the perimeter" in my family, others that I know define it as going to the green mall, visiting skip, or treasure hunting.
And then there are those that find it highly degrading that anyone would check out the trash for cool stuff. If you are one of those...read on.
Why We Do It
Throw Away Society
We are truly a throw-away society. I can't speak for other countries but I know that in the United States the amount of perfectly good stuff that gets thrown away is criminal.
Clothing stores may say that they donate what they do not ultimately sell but the truth is that quite often I have picked up a brand new outfit, tags still on, in the dumpster behind the store. I would blame it on a salesperson stealing items except just as often there will be many outfits in many different sizes.
Book stores have to tear the cover off of books they don't sell to get a refund from the publisher but the books are still good. They could be donated to the local VA hospital, homeless shelter, hospital, or nursing home. The books can't be sold with the cover torn off but they can be given away.
Bath and body stuff. There is a particular store in the United States that is known for it's bath products. Whenever the season changes you can bet that the old products will be tossed out. Could they not be better used by women in a shelter for abused women?
And, now the part that truly is a sin. Food. Not only do grocery stores throw out food that is at the expiration date, they often throw out food that is fresh because they got a new shipment in. Food that could be donated to the hungry.
Making an Income
You can make an income from other people's trash. First, the disclaimer. Check all your local laws and ordinances. Dumpster diving is not illegal in most parts of the United States but some communities have written ordinances against it.
Fabric and Craft Stores
Everywhere you look there are stores with dumpsters. Fabric and craft stores throw away fabrics and craft items they can't sell. I have personally dove several hundred patterns and sold them in packs of three for $1.00. It took me a few minutes to grab the bag of patterns, cost nothing, and I made a hundred bucks or so. Clearance items get thrown out as well. Don't think in terms of how much the item is worth but in terms of what you can sell it for quickly. Silk embroidery ribbon goes very fast at fifty cents a box but might not go as fast at two dollars a box. Price low to sell fast. There is always more. That is the nice thing about trash.
Not only do clothing stores throw out clothing but people often toss it in dumpsters rather than taking it to the thrift shop where it can help people. Apartment dumpsters toward the end of the month can be a great place for clothing. Often the clothes will be clean and still on hangers. Go through and pick out the things you like for yourself and take the rest to the resale shop. You time investment is small and your cash outlay is nothing.
If bath products are still in the packages you can sell them on eBay. If something has been spilled on the package clean it off carefully. A;ways take accurate pictures of the items you plan to sell and describe them honestly.
Look for old books and magazines. I once found five 1950s vintage magazines that sold for over $100.00 on eBay. Just because it doesn't look valuable does not mean that it isn't. People collect lots of things and you can't know everything. Grab it and then research the item on eBay. If it is there chances are someone would pay something for it.
Remember, you got it for free so price it low.
You can also increase your income by spending less. I got so good at dumpster diving in my area that I went three years spending less than $50.00 a month at the grocery store, and we have a big family. We once grabbed 75 gallons of ice cream, still frozen, and filled our freezers. I suppose it was out of date but it tasted fine. Thanksgiving turkeys, still frozen... dozens upon dozens of eggs that are nowhere near the sell by date...yogurt...milk...cream. I used to regularly make butter out of the tossed out cream I found.
If you go into a store at 6 p.m. and milk is marked down to $1.00 a gallon would you buy it? Most of us would say yes. What if you saw the stock boy loading it on a cart to take to the dumpster but he was still in the store? Would you buy it then? What if he was headed out to the dumpster with the still cold milk at 6:15 p.m.? What is the difference between that milk at 6:00 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.?
By being aware of the schedules the store uses you can usually know which days to check the dumpster for the items you need, and you will learn what times they throw things out. You can tell by feel if they have been sitting out a long time or not and most people can easily tell if something is spoiled. Anyone who has ever opened a brand new carton of milk and had it taste spoiled knows that just because something is in the grocery case does not make it o.k!
Keep informed about the various recalls that happen so that you don't get something that has been recalled.
Some of My Best Finds
Dumpster diving gets to be addictive. You develop an eye for knowing what to look for, for knowing the shape of the bag with the gourmet cheeses in it or what is trash and what isn't. It is fun to come home with something you like and didn't have to pay for.
Some of the things I have brought home are:
- Antique yellow pine sewing rocker
- Vintage magazines (sold for over 100.00)
- Ice cream
- 10 packing boxes of Valentines and Easter Chocolates.
- 10 frozen turkeys
- Carpet for my bedroom
- Antique books
- Bath stuff from a bath boutique...a ton of it
- 50 lbs of gourmet coffee beans
And much more.
I met people that were diving, people who were "nice" people not drug addicts or serial killers. I met an elderly Pastor that kept the food pantry in his church filled for people who needed it...a woman on social security that always had a smile and a little something for me that she found at another store. Some of my best items I sold for cash but most of my best finds were people!