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Dumpster Diving


Here are some tips:

What to bring:

Comfortable clothes
Baby wipes
Milk crate (for stepping stool)
Pocket knife
Grocery bags/trash bags
Large enough vehicle (don't want to find you don't have enough space for your stash)
First aid kit
Unger or poking stick

When to dive:

Each person has their own preferable time to dive, but I recommend early morning or late night. Don't dive after midnight to avoid confrontations. Dive consistently. Remember, you may not find something each time you go. It's the thrill of the hunt. You never know when a dive will be a lucky one.

Where to dive:

You can start by mapping out or scoping the following areas-

Thrift stores
Strip malls
Grocery stores
Department stores
Residential (apartment/condo)
Video stores
Toy stores
Electronic stores
Craft stores
Recycle bins

What to do if confronted:

It's a good idea to say that you are looking for boxes. Most store personnel are more concerned with you dumping your trash into their dumpster vs. taking items from their dumpster. This is not the time to be defensive. Be polite and leave as soon as possible. If you know your area's law, then you can always come back later. You may want to consider not diving in your immediate area, if you are concerned about being recognized.

Is it illegal:

You can check for your local area ordinances or call your police department to inquire. Most areas consider trash public domain. Be sure to check that it is not a breach of privacy in your area. Do not dive in fenced area dumpsters or where any do not trespass signs are posted.

How long per dive:

Do not dive in one dumpster over ten minutes. The longer you are there, the higher your chances are for being confronted. Be as quick as possible. Be discreet. Keep in mind small things like not parking your car directly next to the dumpster.


Beware of sharp objects/broken glass etc and use common sense.
Remember some dumpster lids slam shut.
Never leave a mess.
Avoid food or foul smelling dumpsters
Do not take personal paperwork
Don't vandalize/break locks

What treasures have you found?

Email me at webmaster and tell me about your treasures. I will list your finds.

Dumpster diving book:

Art and Science of Dumpster Diving
by John Hoffman

People who dive:

Many people find it gross to dumpster dive. There are many folks other than the homeless or desperate that dumpster dive. Here is a list of types of people that also dive.

Kids/teens/college students
Antiques dealers
Interior designers
Anyone that wants to save money, make money, clean the community, and have a fun adventure.

More Dumpster Diving