The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving

Get Free Stuff From the Trash

A few years ago, I got my hands on a book written by John Hoffman called The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving.  It literally changed my life.  In the past, I was very secretive about my dumpster diving.  Now, I am more apt to share my finds with other people, especially if they’re something worth talking about.

I have reclaimed furniture, clothing, books, jewelry, knick knacks, and even a brand new laptop bag.  When I worked at the mall, I was known to rescue bags of good from an untimely demise.  I gave away or donated what I couldn’t use.  I couldn’t stand the idea of perfectly good items being taken to the landfill.  I still can’t.

Although I haven’t dived in awhile, I can honestly say that a good amount of my home was decorated with dumpstered items.  From the new black bar stools I have in my kitchen right down to the table I eat my meals at, I have had my fair share of free items.  The only thing I haven’t done is eat dumpstered food.  That’s out of my comfort zone although I hear it is perfectly acceptable for some people.

I believe wholeheartedly in reducing, reusing, and recycling.  In fact, I try to buy things secondhand before I ever consider buying them in a store.  I find dumpstering them even more gratifying.  I bought a new laptop and needed a bag to carry it in.  The next day, I found one sitting next to my apartment complex dumpster with the tags still on it.  It was almost as if it was sitting there waiting for me.  If you wait long enough, everything you ever wanted will eventually be discarded by someone.  It’ll only be a matter of time before you pull back the lid and find a treasure trove of items waiting for you.

If you’re squeamish, wear a good pair of work gloves.  You can also bring a stick to push things aside so you can see into the dumpster better.  Leave everything in better condition than you found it.  This is how you keep the authorities away and prevent businesses from locking their bins at night.  The key is to be courteous and use what you take.  Going through the bags of donations left at the thrift store is wrong.  Rummaging through discards on someone’s curb is not.  That is, if you don’t leave behind a mess in the process.

Dumpster diving is a great way to get the things you need for free.  If you’re not patient enough to wait for things to be thrown away, consider registering for an account on Freecycle.  You can request items through the site at no cost to you.  That’s awesome if you ask me.  Who wants to pay when people are offering you stuff for free?

 

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Filed Under: Frugal Living

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About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.

2 comments
Ronald_Mueller
Ronald_Mueller

Hmmm, I'm not exactly sure about this. People throw away their stuff because it's no longer serving their purpose right? Hmm, but it got me thinking. Naaahh.. Okay, well maybe I'll take a peek.

Brandy
Brandy

Oh no...I don't think I could ever do that! I am gagging just thinking about grabbing stuff out of dumpster!

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