Dumpster diving is one of my favorite hobbies! I started in Seattle in 1996 and have been going strong ever since. To be honest, most of the time I’m really picking up goodies that people have left on the curb, in an alley, or right on top of a dumpster pile. So, it’s not gross as some might assume. In fact, it makes me feel like an eco warrior, saving treasures from the landfill.
My husband and I have rescued all sorts of things like:
* A chandelier (appraised for $1,200)
* Charming black and white photographs
* Retro chairs (we sold for $200)
* Blocks of wood for fires or art projects
* Office supplies
* Garden decor
* Art deco mirrors, doors + original hardware
In my experience there are two main types of diving, spontaneous and planned. Most of the time I’m cruising around on my bicycle for fun, I happen to see a rented dumpster for a home remodeling project, and then circle back with a car after I’ve confirmed there are some treasures worth saving. However, if you want to go all out you can map out your city and learn where all the best neighborhoods as well as mom and pop shops are that regularly throw stuff out (and don’t lock their dumpsters.)
Tips for Planned Dumpster Diving:
1. If you plan on driving keep your car clutter-free and stash a pair of gloves, flashlight, an empty bag, and possibly a stepladder in the back so you can easily load up.
2. Aim for a safe and easy time to dive. Daylight hours are best, but a flashlight can still be helpful with identifying objects faster (or you can use an app on your phone.)
3. When diving, wear gloves and then clean them after each use (this is really important for dumpster diving in old or historic neighborhoods where lead paint or lead dust might be present.)
Tips for Spontaneous Dumpster Diving:
1. If you’re with someone and you find some amazing dumpster diving goodies, have one person stay there and one person go get what you need, i.e. a car, gloves, flashlight, bags.
2. If you’re by yourself, or too far from home, load up safely and be sure to wash your hands ASAP.
3. Since dumpsters are often in alleys or near construction projects wear sensible shoes so you can access what you want and avoid nails and sharp objects.
Note: In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never gotten hurt, confronted, or scared by anyone/anything.
Bonus tip: I also recommend keeping an all-natural hand sanitizer in your bag or car (Dr. Bronner’s and Clean Well make great ones and they aren’t filled with scary chemicals like Triclosan.)
When & Where to Dumpster Dive:
1. My top recommendations are for historic and affluent neighborhoods. Keep an eye out for new owners who are gutting their home and have a rented dumpster on the street.
2. Often the best time to search is at the beginning and end of the month, right after people have moved.
3. If you’re interested in basics like office supplies or storage containers, university campuses and nearby neighborhoods are perfect to check out at the end of the academic year. The nicer the school, the nicer the stuff.
My mission: As a Certified Holistic Nutritionist & Eco Expert, I’m dedicated to leading you straight to the core of what it takes to enjoy a new level of vitality, weight loss, and detoxification. I love helping clients across the U.S. transform their lives. Shine on! -Rachel Avalon