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Dumpster Diving--You Can Make a Living from it! Answered

I found this video that brings a whole new name to dumpster diving. For those of you that saw Tim Anderson's Instructable on Cinnamon Garbage, this video just reiterates the fact that you can find some pretty valuable items dumpster diving.


When you say dumpster..are u referring to skips people hire to get rid of rubbish or are you meaning the larger steel bins at shopping centers and apartment blocks? I'm keen to find some good locations to upcycle groovy waste...I swear some ppl must have too much money. Kerbside collection is a goldmine! Also charity bins that are overflowing...and their rubbish bins are a sight for sore eyes too as they can only store so much stock received so the rest is thrown out. Many dont accept electrical goods as it has to be tested so they chuck it out..also baby goods such ad prams/cots etc. Love a heads up in Brisbane where to visit or companies/places worth checking out. I was told beta electrical has a big bin worth checking out but haven't checked it out as yet

If you're going to do this seriously, go for both.

In the UK, council recycling depots/tips are a good sources of raw materials.

Do it in the right neighborhood and hit the right places.. you can live like a king. People throw out perfectly good things for god knows why.. take the glass chess set and such he found. Perfect and frequent/easy finds out there.

in we have a dumpster that dumps out about a bike a day


5 years ago

Its hard stinky work and I don't recommend depending on it for a living.

I am a Refuse Receptical Recovery Specialist. Unfortunately that is in the former tense. Our local refuse company is also a state of the art recyceling plant. Everything that is picked up by their trucks is put on a conveyor belt and sorted into large roll off trash bins and then sent to the appropriate recyceling facility of which they own two of. One scrap steel operation, and a paper facility. Each of their dumpsters has in bold four inch lettering "NO DUMPSTER DIVING" on two sides. The owner actually went to the city council and had a new city ordinence enacted prohibiting dumpster diving about 6 years ago. They cited an incident where someone got hurt on one of their trash dumpsters (not dumpster diving) and sued them. The new law was for "the public safety".
Apartment buildings around the fifteenth to the end of the month were my best ones. Thats about the time that money starts to get short, tempers flair, and girlfriend tosses drunk passed out boyfriends stuff in trash.
There is a way to get into the "GOOD" bins that I used on places like Sears, Thrifty, K Mart, and local appliance and electronics stores. The initial set up is a little risky, but after that just wait till after the stores close and its all yours.
You need a couple cheap locks from the dollar store, or your junk drawer, and a pair of bolt cutters. Cut the chain on the opposite side that the stores lock is on. Use your lock to reattach it, and maybe add in one or two other locks to make it look like it is just an old lock from a previous client. Once you are done all you do is unlock YOUR lock and you are in.
Having a typed up note in your pocket on company letterhead (Easy enough to get once you are in the trash bin) prepaired with permission to "recover useable items from refuse bin located at......." with the managers signature at the bottom will keep the local cops off your case. These are easy enough to photo shop or just edit in MS Paint is all I did. The cops wont check as you are not stealing anything.
I never made a living at DDing, but I came up with some sweet stuff!
Remember...SAFETY FIRST! Leather gloves, heavy boots, Levis, long sleeve shirt, and safety glasses are a minimum. I ALWAYS wore this plus a pair of coveralls. There is sharp glass, metal, syringes, toxic waste and lots more that can ruin your day in dumpsters.
Have fun. Hope this helps!

The best time/place for dumpster diving is at college dorms right after commencement! It works every time.


other times there is an 888 castle -- cans and bottles 10 dollars for 1 hour bike pickup. Then a drive through the redwood forest to cash in on the cans.

after 5 hours it sometimes becomes 1776 all over.

Hi everyone! I work at a production company, and we are currently casting for a new upcoming documentary series about people who dumpster dive for a living. If you want to find out more about this awesome opportunity, please send me an email to mskouras@asylument.com. Thanks!

 i've heard that best buy throws out their floor models all the time and was wondering if anyones ever gotten anything from there?

where i live best buy has their dumpsters locked, but at a flooring store i found like 20 carpeting samples and 5 flooring samples

Cool,but I don't think I'd goes as far as Food and Clothes

My first dumpster find was....four six packs of tasmanian (I'm australian) sweet ass expensive beer. I took half cause I thought someone might come back. But I've also easily been on trips that have brought back boxes of useful vegetables. And they taste better when they're free! We snuck up into a loading bay one time when we could hear people inside, and took some grapes out of a dumpster (they were on the top). Inside a plastic bag, perfectly fine. We also scored something like 3-4kilos of pumpkins...they were thrown out because half a mm of the cut skin had a slight mold (and therefore wouldn't be bought). The rest was fine. Anyway, its a great social activity. Look up some spots on the net, or just drive there, and go fucking crazy. It's not that bad (though some things are gross, most of it is fine. dumpstered doughnuts are great too!).

thats awesome, where did you go?

I found the beer over in Ascott in Brisbane, but most of the best spots we found were on the southside; less security, no trash-compactors and less visibility from public areas.  Any cheaper area in your town would be the best place to get a load of vegetables, although I found that beer in a rather nice part of town.  Best of luck with it, the hardest part is just to actually go outside and do it.  

I'm in brissy to! Yes, southside has low security but not much in the way of decent finds.

i think id be angeryer if half was gone than all of it gone cause if they only took half then they would be wasting the other half!


8 years ago

well i found an original gameboy in mint condition still in box, 3 gameboy colors, a dslite with over $400 of games and accessories and a ton of other stuff

I just couldn't do it. I've picked up a few things on recycling day, but I couldn't actually go into the dumpster and root around for things. I guess my pride out weighs those things. Not say it's wrong, I'm just saying for me I'd feel like a welfare bum doing that, and I wasn't raised that way.

i am not currently being raised that way however i aspire to be a hobo!!

"dumpster diving" is a somewhat generic term for picking "good bits" out of other peoples trash, whether or not it actually involves physically climbing into a dumpster. In fact, actual dumpsters are pretty dangerous places (broken glass, sharp metal edges, etc.) The BEST way to "dumpster dive" is to become known to the people who throw the good stuff out, so they contact you BEFORE it goes in the dumpster. Second best probably involves pre-sorted bins; so I'm inclined to search our "e-waste" and "battery recycling" bins at work, and actual trash bins hardly ever. This also applies to "special collection" days that your neighborhood trash pickup service may provide. Back a while ago I threw out a bunch of stuff (schedule-your-own special pickup, may include one major appliance like a TV, etc) and made sure to put it out by curb in plenty of time for scavengers to have a look. I was surprised and rather pleased how much went away BEFORE the official pickup.

 I find all the materials that i need in the dumpster for my projects.
Best thing I ever found was 3 perfectly good speakers and a subwoofer. They are super fancy and sound beautiful. Its strange how people through out such treasures. 
Heres a video that continues to inspire me. 


oh, and i forgot to mention... i got a bunch of candy and a giant 5-foot pink stuffed bunny my first time out..... w00t!

okay so I made my first diving adventure yesterday... holy crap!! There's a lot of good stuff! I think its going to take a long time to accept the notion of eating my finds (although I found two full packs of 5 gum i dont mind :D), but I think this may turn into something cool. So at the first dumpster I'm looking through a guy that looked like he worked at the apartment complex sees me. He starts coming over sternly and I'm thinking "oh great, here we go..." Here was the conversation: Me: "Hello." Him: "Hey. What are you doin?" Me: "Looking for parts for a project I'm building" Him: "Why are you looking here? There's a huge dumpster on the other side of complex A, that's where all the good stuff is!" I almost died laughing inside. Heehee :)

Rather than say your a "Dumpster Diver" you can say you are a "Recycling Maintenance Engineer". Sounds better.

Neat! I wonder how much money he's made/saved in total through dumpster diving.

I am an unabashed dumpster diver and I do it not only because I am poor, but also because I feel as though people are too wasteful and do not value what they have. They always want the newest and the next. I cant believe those people that attacked you! They were probably hiding something. I am going to assume this happened in the U.S. because people are really paranoid here and high strung and also do not understand anyone who does not fit into the typical consumer mold. The po po also unfortunately often protect the money. There is a philosophical peace that comes from fixing and recreating things that were not wanted. lol. I guess what I am saying is dont be a consumer be a creator. Also you guys may want to check out a documentary called The Gleaners and I (or Me- I cant remember). It is about urban and rural gleaners in France- French law actually protects trash pickers!

did anyone ever catch you diving for trash? i saw that you were looking around checking for people lol...what happens if someone catches you???

I was once physically assaulted, while on night-before-garbage-pick-up sidewalk patrol, in a residential area. The police arrested me and held me for 12 hrs. without charges. They also refused to charge the ape that sucker-punched and strangle-held me. Fun, huh?

lol that must suck... im a new dumpster diver and so far the best thing i found was a pan... T-fal... slightly dented and burnt, i just scrubbed it and the ashes came out... now i saved myself a few $$$ and got a tfal pan lol... some of u guys found pretty sweet stuff!

Now I work at a dump. I get insane amounts of really boss stuff, without worrying about "the Man". Keep up your efforts. You'll develop a nose for the good stuff, sometimes literally.

where i live diving in dumpster is-wellyou best ask first.I have in the past done it but i find the best in the suburbs on garbit day.Repossesd homes dumpsters are good to.

Oh yea, especially with the sub-prime mortgage crisis!

In some places, like Pullman WA aka the same place WSU is located... DD'n is illegal, something like a $1000 fine... What a joke! The University students here throw away good working stuff all the time...

My father and I are total junk tycoons. Not sure you'd call it dumpster diving, so much as keeping everything that would otherwise have gotten thrown out- while making a futile attempt at organising our workshop, i found enough electrical paraphernalia to fill a small box. Even aside from working stuff that you can use, plenty of broken things are really useful for making things. Our oven recently broke; it sat outside for a while, slowly getting smaller as I cannibalised bits and pieces from it- a perfectly good number display thing, several buttons, a multiple position rotary switch, not to mention the sheet metal sides. Hoorah for 'garbage!'

I don't dumpster dive, and like goodhart said it's kinda illegal. I once was going to try and look behind radioshack (they could throw away perfectly good electronics, you never know), but I didn't want to be caught on camcorder or anything. Garage sales and thrift stores are almost as good (one place for 5 bucks they give you a grocery paper bag and everything you can fit in it is 5 bucks, I got like 10 broken walkmans, they have nice tiny caps perfect for beam bots).

we only have a few dumpsters in my area, at a few stores, restaurants, and businesses.....

you have to be careful in my area as it is legally considered stealing *sigh*


10 years ago

ROCK ON MAN!!..... walks into room raises left hand and states.>> "MY NAMES DAVID IM A SKIP'A'OLICK" LOL:) it really does piss me right off to see some of the gear that gets thrown away!! believe it or not im actually writing this on a dell PC that i found(RESCUED) in the skip.

ive found a vcr, monster speakers, garden swing, mp3 player, nice cast iron pan, good speed bikes, a lot of good stuff!!

oh and i got a full case of pop, cuz i was diving behind a convience store and they had a case that the bottles had a few cracks in cuz they had dropped them, and it was expensive pop! mmmmm


10 years ago

I found a Specialized bike in my local dumpster as well as a working winch

This will make you all cringe.... %#$
Whilst walking home checking out what people had thrown out, I noticed a bloke in an electrician van pull up, jump out and proceed to snips all the electical cords off ALL the appliances. He then continued to the next pile and did the same....
So many goods could have gone to nice new homes if it wasn't for him...
(In Australia we normally cut the cords off the appliances we throw out that don't work, so no one will waste their time trying it)

It almost made me cry to see him doing that... %$#@%
If only I caught up to him... I would have given him a piece of my mind!!! %$@#

The term "Dumpster diver" is so tacky. I'd prefer to refer to it as "Reconditionable goods surveyor" ...LoL Through out week is my favourite time of the year in Aust... In the last week I have found- *Interactive subwoofer backpack (Backpack with sub in it which plugs into a game/computer console) shakes your whole body, weird hey... *Brass pressurized oil cooker... Was black now shiney brass.. *Many 8 inch x 1 inch hardwood slabs finished... Perfect for tables etc.. And my favourite... A brand new digital camera/MP3 player and the charger... Found it in a box charger next to it... In case your interested in Aust we have a "through out" week for hard rubbish etc to be picked up.....

I think I need to learn how to spell... hmmm :(

through = throw...

Idiot... :(

Awesome! I need to start doing it more frequently.