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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Scavanger's paradise: Dumpster Diving!

Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2009, at 5:27 PM

Dumpster diving and scavanging..
Well I had a reader blast me recently about being thrifty.

This is even better... scavanging, dumpster diving and such.

I have always loved going to places that have cast off's.

You never know what you are going to find from yesteryear and what you might just need now.

Flea markets, and swaps are fun too.

Now, how many of you have done this.. Don't lie.. did you get boxes to move with?

Dumpster diving!!..

If the store allows you, you can get fruit , veggies and all manner of electronics from the dumpster.

I have heard of college kids that eat just what they can get from the dumpster's gleanings.

Here is a great web site that will give tips and rules..


Another website extolls the virtues of turning old dumpsters into a swimming pool. (groovy idea)


I remember my first dumpster diving excursion.. I got 800 thread count sheets (in the package), a Aero air mattress, christmas decorations(new), candles.. slightly wilted..and school supplies.

When i was a kid, i would sneak off and find the dump. Man you could find some groovy things. A deep Purple album, slightly scratched, toys, and tools. My mother did not know I went off to the dump, she would have had a cow.

Always remember, scavanging is dirty work and you may come across the occasional yukky thing. Rotten things and dead things.

In a junk yard in Texas I was searching a very wreaked pickup and found a ear.


We have gotten Kirby vacuums and repaired and sold them, old chandeliers made into sun catchers, old license plates sold on eBay, and lots of other things.

I have gotten antique cabinets on the side of the road, old vacuums to fix and give away, and a treasure trove of cool stuff.

I have been able to help the poor with what I have found and fixed and it is great recycling.

Another great article:


Dear Readers, If you don't like scavanging, leave your old stuff for me and others... we will take it.

Showing comments in chronological order
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When I lived in Philadelphia, there was a whole network of dumpster divers that would send out emails about good locations (like area universities after the students have moved out) and they would also email about things on the side of the road (like furniture, and clothes).

-- Posted by cfrich on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 6:24 PM

cfrich, that is way cool. Hummm great idea..

Oh I scavanged 9 sticks of RAM to bless someone that I work on their computer. I will upgrade the computer for free.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 8:16 PM

I will go to yard sales, Flea Markets, consignment shops and maybe even Goodwill but dumpster diving is not my cup of tea. With the way my luck goes, I would end up with some junkies needle stuck in my hand. :>(

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 8:31 PM

The better places leave the good stuff set aside for gleaners.

(The BEST places have dangerous items like industrial waste and biohazards already segregated.

We all pack our used needles/sharps/syringes,broken glass,paint,batteries,light bulbs,solvents,insecticide,antifreeze,thermometers,used dressings/bandages,expired meds,smoke detectors,drain cleaners and such into appropriate containers and dispose of them in the right places,don't we?

We NEVER let dangerous things get touched by unsuspecting garbage handlers or wind up in our landfills and waterways,do we?)

One person's "junk" is another person's spare parts,crafting supply,compost or other recycling opportunity.

Have permission,wear "haz-mat" gear (if not the real thing,then old clothes,safety goggles,dust mask,textured gloves made for handling sharp,hot or caustic objects and sturdy,no slip footwear),check out everything before taking it into your home and feel free to freeze,wash or fumigate anything before using.

Even what one doesn't need now can be renewed,repaired,restored,repurposed or rehomed at a later date.

I've rescued tossed out plants,pots and soil,some trees and architectural items lost to demolition,construction scraps,"retired" store fixtures and displays,all kinds of reading matter plus household goods left behind after the owners move or estate and yard sales are concluded.

Even the "unusable" has its uses for the ingenius so the folks who are better at producing solutions than funds can scrounge around boxes of buttons,broken crayons and china,reams of paper,saved seed ,fabric for quilts and rag rugs and knitted goods ready to be unraveled.

The heirloom plants and structures due to be razed by road-building and development and many other treasures are available if one is respectful of private (and public) property,takes proper precautions and avoids "finding things that ain't lost".

Saving history and resources can mean more than saving money.

This isn't just a passtime for the stingy or impoversished.

It's a return to our hunter-gatherer days and times when creativity and resourcefulness were highly regarded traits.

It's a reminder that,in our transient society of planned obsolescence,there can be infinite value in unlikely moments,places,things-and people.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 1:33 AM

Oh this article brought back a memory or two. The old city dump on Sims Road was a literal treasure trove when I was a child. That place was at least partly responsible for my love of books and reading. There was a distributing company that would discard brand new paperbacks with the front covers torn off. If it had not been for that old dump I may never have read a Louis L'Amour western. To this very day it pains me to see perfectly good books that have been discarded. Yes I do "dumpster dive" every chance I get, and have found quite a few items of interest, one of which is an old two bladed Girl Scout knife that was in a discarded cigar box along with some other trinkets. This knife is actually kind of rare and collectable.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 1:33 AM

We were recently with my sister & brother-in-law & had dinner with the brother-in-law's nephew & the nephew's fiancee, who told of her adventures in going from California to New York to attend Columbia maybe 10 years ago.

When she arrived in NY she rented an apartment but had no money for furnishings. I can't remember how she got the apartment. There were rich people living all around her. She would go to wherever these people would put out their trash and take whatever she needed. She said she would find chairs, tables, crystal, china, etc. Friends would come over, & they would drink water from crystal because she didn't have regular glasses. She said she got fine things that way.

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 4:43 AM

Hi, 4fabs! This is something I have yet to have any experience with... I do enjoy yard-saling, thrift shopping, etc.

I want to learn, will you teach me and make me be brave? I've sorta been scared of what I might find...

-- Posted by picaboo170 on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 9:48 AM

picaboo170 no problem best thing is to remember get permission and wear rubber gloves. Dumpsters have some nasty items in them sometimes.. rats, possums and such.

BUT.. you can find some great things.

I found a old wardrobe by the side of the road 9 years ago and it had some old catholic jewelry in it. I love the medallion that i found and wear it alot.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 5:00 PM

Lesa - that bureau, and it's contents, sound like great finds.

-- Posted by cfrich on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 8:04 PM

I hate to admit it, but I guess to be honest, I am just too a little too proud to dig through dumpsters. It is not the smell or the filth, it is the degree of certainty that the very first time I do it, there will be someone (or someones) there watching me climb out, who always knew I would end up there. I wouldn't want to give them the satisfaction.

I do have a friend who enjoys it almost as much as playing the lottery though, and it pays off much more often for him. Last summer, I stood by a dumpster and held a box as he threw out about 100 Weeble Wobbles to me that he sold on ebay that same night for $499.99 after only washing the dust off of them.

Those who are brave enough should go for it. Maybe one day I will mature enough to join you guys.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Aug 6, 2009, at 1:54 AM

i love getting stuff and reselling them. Man it helps with school supplies and extra expenses...

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Thu, Aug 6, 2009, at 1:51 PM

You just gave Resentful Parent apoplexy with this topic. Hope she doesn't take it out on the kids.

Dumpster Diving provided me with warm coats in the winter when I was in high school. My mother found a bunch of quilted coat lining in large bundles at the old dump back then. She found a simple pattern for a zip up jacket and EVERYONE we knew got a new jacket. People were so grateful. We played in the snow with those jackets on and stayed realy warm. I remember she had a hard time keeping enough zippers on hand. She also consficated some big ole rolls of rug yarn and proceeded to make big ole afghans. We thought we were like Dolly Parton and her coat of many colors. We were so proud and so warm. And so loved. I guess resentments don't really figure in too much, when people are busy giving of themeselves.

-- Posted by ridgeroamer on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 4:50 AM


This a fascinating subject and one I have done before, but I thought all the dumpsters were enclosed in the fences at the recycling center now.

I was always timid and would try to wait til nite then someone else had already picked it up.

You sound like a great lady with a passion to help others.

Keep up the great tips, and since I'm retired now, this may be my new career!

-- Posted by katydid on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 12:23 PM

OH Man, Gotta share Got some New IN THE BOX Rockford Fosgate speakers at the Goodwill for 5.99.

I had been needing a replacement for the one i blew out playing Hendrix too loud last week .. the replacement speakers i did find were 60.00 and up.. so i put it on my wish list..

TADAHHHH wish fulfilled...

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Clutter, Cats and Kids
Lesa Cox
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Lesa Cox has owned a cleaning service and a bookstore; now, she repairs and maintains computers for the elderly and others on a fixed income. She enjoys animals, gardening, books and fixing old cars. She and her husband have one son, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.