America's Answer to the Economic Collapse: Dumpster Diving?
The Art of Dumpster Diving
Has our ailing economy really reduced us to dumpster diving? Have financially strapped Americans really been brought down to digging in the dumpsters to get what they need to survive?
It would appear that "dumpster diving" has certainly become more popular since our economy took a down-turn! And it's not just poor, homeless people who are raiding the dumpsters; it has also become a political and environmental statement, according to the "Freegans".
The term "Freegan" derives from the terms "free" and "vegan". Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living, based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. They are not necessarily homeless, nor destitute, but are making a political and environmental statement by their opposition to a society based on consumerism, materialism, careless disregard of the environment, waste, and greed, They differ from environmentalists, in that instead of fighting the system, they simply refuse to be a part of it. They often refuse to punch a time clock, and don't want to obey limiting or regulatory rules imposed by a society that they decline to participate in.
Freeganism started in the mid 1990s, out of antiglobalization and environmentalist movements. "Food Not Bombs" is a Freegan group who served free vegetarian and vegan food that was salvaged from food market trash by dumpster diving.
What is "dumpster diving", exactly?
Well, very simply put, it's scrounging around in dumpsters, looking for things other people have thrown away, that you can use, and salvaging them either for your own use, for charitable purposes, or for reselling the items for profit. People dig in dumpsters not only for food, like the "Freegans" do, but also for other useable items - anything that is still good and can be used, re-used, or recycled.
"Dumpster diving" also includes "curbside driving", which is looking for stuff people have set out at curbs in front of houses or apartment buildings for the trash company to pick up and haul off.
Usually, in the United States, after someone has thrown something into the garbage, it is no longer their property, and is free for the taking. But dumpster divers have to be careful that they are not trespassing, or they might get into trouble.
What other problems do dumpster divers run into? Well, you have to be careful not to "get any on you". I'm talking here about bacteria, questionable substances, etc. Most divers wear gloves and old clothing, and use a pole to grab things up out of the dumpsters with. Things pulled out of dumpsters need to be disinfected and decontaminated before using!
Also, they have to bang the side of the dumpsters before "diving in", just in case there is a stray racoon, rat, possum, or skunk in there! Some dumpster divers in big cities have even encountered dead bodies in the dumpsters, both animal and human! Others have found loaded guns, knives, drugs, etc.
Sometimes store security personnel get irate when they see dumpster diving occurring, and some are responding to the nuisance by locking their dumpsters up. Compacter dumpsters should never be entered; you might get "compacted" yourself!
And, another risk is getting stuck with somebody's infected needle. So, dumpster divers have to be careful, or they might end up sick, bit, squished, arrested, bitched at, or stuck!
Professional dumpster divers are familiar with garbage pick-up days and times, and will hit the dumpsters just before the garbage man gets there, to get the biggest hauls.
Where do people dumpster dive? Behind the stores of whatever it is they are looking for is usually a good place to start. The dumpsters behind grocery stores and bakery stores yield produce, dented canned goods, and other food stuffs with expired dates. Sometimes whole bags of produce will be thrown away just because one piece is spoiled.
Other good places are Walmart stores, electronics, clothing, and furniture stores, gift shops, pharmacies, bread stores, health food stores, etc.
What kinds of things do dumpster divers find, besides food? All kinds of things! From clothing, to televisions, computers and accessories, furniture, personal care products; you name it, dumpster divers have found it
Now you are probably wondering if I have ever participated in this new "National Past Time"...
I can unashamedly admit that I have! And was kind of glad I did. After I got over being mortified that someone that knew me would see me doing it, or that I would get in trouble with angry store security workers, that is...
I wasn't worried about wild animals or bacteria. My biggest fear was that someone would catch me digging in a dumpster!
However, I had a good friend named "Dumpster Donnie", who lived in the most exquisitely furnished and decorated house I had ever seen a bachelor to live in! He had collections of the most fascinating things, beautiful antiques, and gorgeous art work and wall groupings all over the place! You could never tire of looking at all his interesting things!
I asked him where he had acquired these things. At first, he was reluctant to give up his "trade secrets", but eventually he gave up a few of them! All his beautiful white wicker patio furniture was retrieved from the dumpster behind a "Trees and Trends" store. His fancy phone came from the one behind Radio Shack. His new computer came out of a dumpster by the "Best Buy" store.
His luxurious recliner, coffee and end tables, antique lamps, and many other things came from his "curbside driving" expeditions. His curbside forays were very lucrative, indeed. In fact, he gave me a beautiful antique radio that everyone compliments me on, whenever anyone comes to my house!
And his beautiful new sofa came from the truck behind an expensive furniture store, where they threw "scratch and dent" new furniture away,free for the taking. (I did visit that truck many times - I came up with 2 recliners, a new sofa, dressers, end tables, a telephone table, a computer desk, and a beautiful brand new queen-sized mattress and box spring, with the plastic still on it!
Not to mention the box of abandoned kittens I found there one afternoon. There were five of them, one of which was my beloved Gertrude, an opinionated Siamese Tortie. She was only 2 weeks old when I found her. Between me feeding her and my Chocolate Lab, Joe, babysitting her while I was at work, we came up with the most beautiful, smartest cat in West Kentucky! (She did sort of think she was a dog, though. Oh, well...)
From curbside driving, I have rescued all sorts of things. Dressers, tables, chairs, pictures, a stereo, planters; so many things I can't even remember them all!
I kind of hold back on the food diving, though - I'm sort of funny about what I eat...
Dumpster diving. Could be a good thing!
Gertrude sure thought so!
"Gertrude", Beloved Dumpster Diving Rescue Kitty:
Food Rationing? Not in the Dumpster!
Popular Hangouts For Dumpster Diving Aficionados:
Yahoo Group - Dumpster Divers Paradise
Dumpster Diving Meetup Groups - Dumpster Diving Meetups
Meet other local dumpster divers to discuss techniques for hunting and retrieving garbage gems. One block's trash is another man's treasure.
http://www.dumpsterworld.com/ - The largest internet forum of dumpster diving information.
http://FrugalVillage.com - An introduction to dumpster diving
http://Craigslist.org - A great section for free stuff - -choose your city from the list on the right side of the homepage
http://Freecycle.org - List items to give away or items you need-search for your local group
http://Freegan.info Anti-capitalist lifestyle movement with a strong emphasis on dumpster diving.
http://foundclothing.blogspot.com - An online archive of clothing that has been found, washed, and worn by the site's operator and random contributors
http://trashwiki.org - a wiki about dumpster diving around the world.
Dumpster diving - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dumpster diving is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be ...
How to Dumpster Dive - wikiHow article about How to Dumpster Dive. ...
Dumpster Diving and Trash Recycling for Fun and Profit
One click access to the best sites Dumpster Diving Sites on the Internet. The Best Dumpster Finds. Recycling Dumpster Finds and Trash Into Art.
YouTube - Dumpster Diving
It's called dumpster diving - going through garbage looking for food. In the United States it's becoming a movement. You may be surprised by who is going