Dumpster Diving 101

I thought I had already posted something like this, but it turns out that I hadn’t, so sorry about that. In order to be successful in dumpster diving there is a couple of things that you need in your kit.

  1. Gloves. I tend to dig in trash with food in it. I think it’s disgusting, but it’s really not bad if I don’t have to touch it. Plus there’s no telling what people will throw away and dumpsters could be dangerous and gloves can definitely be a layer of protection.
  2.  A trash bag. Whether you drive around to different sights or they’re close enough to where you live that you can just walk, you’re probably going to find more than a couple of items and you’re going to need something to carry them in.
  3. Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You definitely don’t want to be wearing anything fancy when you go dumpster diving. It depends how deep you want to go. If you plan on getting into dumpster then you want where everything from crappy shirts, to crappy jeans and shoes. If not then at least you need a crappy shirt.
  4. A trash picker- I’m not quite sure what the technical term for it is, but it has a long handle and at the end is a pincher so you can grab things from far away. We got ours from Lowe’s in the Lawn and Garden section.  A rake also useful so you can push trash around when you’re too far away to reach.
  5. Batteries. These are good for checking to see if things work. Sometimes things are thrown away for no good reason, so batteries help to know whether it’s something that’s going to be of use or not.
  6. A couple of good friends- For many reasons this is a good rule. One, it can be dangerous at night. It’s easier to be snuck up on which either means you’re about to get caught or jumped, either way, having a good look out and a good getaway driver can never hurt. Also, it’s nice to have company. If you go in the day, it’s not as dangerous to go by yourself, but caution should still be used. I’ve been diving by myself plenty of times, but it’s easier if you have, at least, a getaway driver.
  7. A good attitude. Nothing kills a good day like a bad dive. But as long as you have a good attitude then there really isn’t such thing as a bad dive. That is mostly what I learned from upcycling is that no matter what you find, it can always be used. It may not be useful at first, but it can be made into something useful. I understand that finding spoons isn’t as exciting, for some people, as finding electronics, free clothes, whatever, but any kind of trash can be made into something new. Pop tabs can be made into a lampshade or wrappers can eventually made into purses. There are tutorials for upcycling ideas everywhere. Look around and see that the possibilities are endless.
  8. Determination. You may not find anything good on your first, second or even third round of diving. It’s all a matter of knowing when and where to look. Know when the trash trucks run for the places that you want to look and kind of look around at different places and what is in their trash. I live in a small town and the places that I have to choose from isn’t as broad as bigger cities. I can tell you that apartment and dorms are great places to start. For apartments, check around the end of the month. That’s when people move out. For dorms check at the end of semesters. For other places, chances are that if they sell the things that you want then they’ll throw it away too. Also, keep in mind that you have to dig. What you want may not always be on top. Perseverance is key in this hobby.

I’m still working on when is the best time and where the best places are to dumpster dive. It could take me a while to figure it out, but when I do, you will the first to know!


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