Click to Enlarge ImageInfographic by CustomMade
While some people spend the early morning hours asleep, partying, or getting ready for work, other people around the world pursue a slightly less conventional activity: digging through trash.
Why, you might ask, would someone enthusiastically subject themselves to the often disgusting sights and smells on the inside of a dumpster or in the middle of a trash heap? Turns out, these intrepid dumpster divers are on to something. Read on to learn what dumpster diving is all about and how you can take advantage of the wonderful treasure that is other people’s trash.
What Is Dumpster Diving?
At its simplest, dumpster diving is the act of recovering discarded items that are still useable or hold some kind of value. Also known as urban foraging, track picking, scavenging, salvaging, or curb crawling, dumpster diving targets discarded goods from retailers, schools, homes, businesses, construction sites, or anywhere that useable products are thrown away.
Anyone can dumpster dive, though the practice is often tied to freeganism—a movement where people seek to shrink their ecological footprint, reduce society’s collective waste, and inspire more sustainable models of living. The freegan lifestyle is a response to the tremendous amounts of waste generated by current models of production and consumption.
Take, for example, food waste. One-third of all the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted—that’s around 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, or enough to feed the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who go hungry. Of course, wasted food also equals wasted money and labor, and the useless consumption of land and water resources.
These same principles apply to virtually any wasted product. Waste is a sign that resources are being used inappropriately and that vital needs aren’t being met for large numbers of people. Since a major reason for dumpster diving is to combat these injustices, the movement could arguably be called revolutionary.
Not only that, but it’s a great way to have some fun and save some money. Divers can walk away from a dive with plenty of usable items, from clothing and furniture to computers, appliances, books, DVDs, office supplies, lamps, tools, construction materials, toys, and, yes, food. Furnishing a new apartment for free or nearly free? Yes, please!
There’s an art to dumpster diving that only comes with experience. But with some simple dos and don’ts—and a little bit of practice—you’ll be well on your way to becoming a dumpster diving pro.
Read more in detail the Dos and Don’ts of dumpster diving + some tips here
The Bottom Line
Dumpster diving can be an economical way to cut down on waste, reduce your eco-footprint, and add a little adventure into your life. By practicing the dos and don’ts above and utilizing common sense, you’ll be well equipped to uncover some trash turned treasure. Happy hunting!
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5 thoughts on “Tips on Dumpster Diving [Infographic]”
I’ve thought about dumpster diving but I’ve never done it. I know there is good food in the dumpster behind Panera, I just can’t get my self to dive in after it.
We have but not yet with foods but objects that people leave on the street. Once a month there is a “collection” here in Germany called “sperrmüll” where people register furniture, construction material or practically anything except food and clothes to be disposed. Every neighborhood receives a calendar where the monthly collections will be but the places are unknown until two days before when you start seeing objects in the corner. The truck can only take registered items but people can take anything they find useful and in good conditions. I like it a lot, is a bit like free second hand, you find destroyed useless items but most of the times in great conditions. Most of the small furniture in my apartment is from “sperrmüll” (book shelves, bed side tables, drawers…) is a great opportunity to upcycle.
Thank you for passing by and leaving a comment! 🙂
In my city we can buy a sticker and the city will pick up TVs, large furniture and appliances. You can buy the sticker at any time, call the company that does the pickup and they will come and get your junk.
I often put un-wanted items on Craigsist, which I believe you also have in Germany.
We have charities that will send us a post card that they will be in our neighborhood on a certain date. If you call them they will stop by and pick up bags of clothing, but no furniture or appliances.
That’s also a very good alternative! Yes, we have Craiglist here as well 🙂