Author Topic: Dumpster diving  (Read 14636 times)

DocCyane

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Dumpster diving
« on: January 28, 2013, 10:01:01 PM »
I did my first real dumpster dive tonight and walked away with three boxes of fig newtons. We did it rather on a lark, but then it got real when we saw all the perfectly good food being thrown away. All packaged and perfect, on the shelf just moments prior.

There hasn't been a conversation about dumpster diving on this forum that I could find, but I'm interested if others have dived and what they found.

We live in an apartment where people always leave things by the trash. We give and take all the time, rather like swapping with neighbors. But actually digging in a commercial dumpster was new to me. And.... I like it.
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Mr. Moneymustcash

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 10:49:01 PM »
This is a good thread to start. I have found some AMAZING things in the local dumpster bins.

While I choose not to grab food, as usually there is a good reason to throw it out (packaged goods notwithstanding), I will list the various things I have found in the last 5 years below that have saved my stache some serious cash!

1.) 5ft tall cat tree (It had a few frays but was nearly perfect other than that. In the pet store, this cost at least $120 and in some places, even more brand new).

2.) Gamecube with Super Smash Bros and a controller (It was as if the trash gods had delivered the most amazing gift for saving real hard).

3.) A leather restaurant booth chair in pristine condition (just like the ones at your favorite sit-down restaurant).

4.) A corporate-style wraparound desk that only needed a few new screws and some elbow-grease to fix. Easily, this is worth $200 and I am still using it today (right now in fact, while I write).

5.) Wooden barstools for the kitchen (only minor scratches repaired with walnuts).

6.) About 200 sample bottles of Pantene shampoos and conditioners, thrown away at a CVS (NOT ON MY WATCH!)

7.) At the same CVS 2 weeks later, about 30 unused boxes of Colgate toothpaste that had just expired that week.

8.) Yet again at the wasteful pharmacy, 10 boxes of unopened Q-tips. I haven't had to buy any in years and still have 4 boxes left.

9.) A couple of wicker baskets I use for the bathroom

10.) A large mirror with a ding in the top right corner. I made a frame for it and now it hangs proudly.

During bulk trash pickup in my neighborhood that happens twice a year, I will go running around the neighborhood late/early and scope out the bulk trash. I picked up a sleeper sofa in perfect condition, minus 1 cigarette burn. (HELLO! flip the cushion over), an extra futon mattress for the futon when it started to sag a little, and about 40 golf balls that I drove into oblivion at the range, saving me a $10 ball fee.

I have no scruples about dumpster diving if someone else's trash is MY treasure. I will take it proudly, clean it up/fix it, and then use it until it is no longer practical.





directionseeker

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 10:54:00 PM »
Dumpster diving is not allowed here in Singapore. So I still don't have the chance to do that although I think it will be fun and save us some money.

What is common here is you can find almost 100% usable furniture(desk,sofa,chair....) at the common area of our flat.
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michaelrecycles

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 10:56:36 PM »
There hasn't been a conversation about dumpster diving on this forum that I could find, but I'm interested if others have dived and what they found.

Oh, but there has! Here is the original post:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/dumpster-diving/

jpluncford21

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 06:34:38 AM »
I've been thinking about this a lot. Especially in the cold winter months when meat will stay cold in a dumpster. Are you all timing this or just randomly checking out the dumpster? Wouldn't the most productive thing to do would be to ask when the produce, meat, etc is thrown out and show up shortly after? Just thoughts, no real world experience here!

GuitarStv

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 06:53:19 AM »
I like to think of myself as being pretty frugal, and I hate to see things go to waste.  Many times I've been walking around and picked up a chair or something from the curb that was being thrown out and given it a new life.  That said . . . the idea of crawling through an unsanitary dumpster rooting around for food . . . that's crossing a line somewhere.

zug

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 07:07:19 AM »
I dumpster dive extensively. Food diving and stuff diving are two different beasts. Best places are smaller, high end food shops because they throw away high-quality food that is perfectly good due to minor blemishes. Winter is awesome for dumpster diving in colder climates because you can safely grab meat.

Awesome scores:
50lbs of whole wheat flour
50lbs of carrots (2 25lb bags, one carrot in each bag was bad)
10 gallons of fresh apple cider (turned that into hard apple cider)
Schmancy organic milk

Regular scores: All the produce I could ever eat (I never had to buy produce when I had time to dive), such as broccoli, carrots, oranges, apples, grapefruit, leafy greens, lettuce, cauliflower, etc etc. Also, high-end fruit like fresh raspberries in February. Raspberries are great, I made a lot of fresh compote for pancakes out of $7/pint raspberries in the middle of winter.

I also dove for stuff strategically. I regularly make $500-$700 diving the local university during moveout week. I would take anything that looked like it had resale value - vacuum cleaners, dorm fridges, high-end clothes, and resell it on craigslist. My fiancee scored a brand new pair of Ray-ban sunglasses that she loves during the last dive. You could make even more if you had the space to haul futon frames for scrap metal.

zug

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 07:14:29 AM »
Also, for those of you who are envisioning climbing through rotten food and smelly things to find half rotten food to eat, your mental image is entirely incorrect.

The way things are done varies from store to store, but typically everything is in trashbags so you never have to touch anything icky.

The produce aisles are picked through for expired stuff and that stuff goes into a seperate container typically with no other trash in it (the produce guys in the store are different from the cleaning guys). Find the containers with the produce aisle stuff and you'll find 10% actually bad food and, 80% food with minor blemishes, and 10% "why the heck did they throw this away!?" stuff.

My most frequent food dive spot actually separated good produce out and placed it in banana boxes right on top of the dumpster so we didn't even have to dive for it. We'd just walk up, grab the banana box, and leave. It was fantastic.

ketchup

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 11:48:14 AM »
I don't have a habit of this, but my best find was a broken (red ring of death) Xbox 360 with hard drive and cables in the dumpster at work last week (we share our dumpster with the big storage warehouse behind our lab).  Still haven't attempted to fix it, but worst-case scenario, I can get a few bucks for the hard drive and cables.

Togoshiman

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2013, 08:04:11 AM »
Back in the day in Japan, we'd grab can beers and walk around on gomi (garbage) nights.  With small apartments and a fetish for newness, there were literally TVs, stereos and other perfectly functioning goods put out to make space for the newer purchases.  We furnished entire apartments over the span of a few months - heaters, fans, cookpads, minidisc players, stereos, TVs and so on.  It was... incredible.

Saddest part was finding a jackpot of good-quality goods before finally stumbling across piles of old photo albums - likely a death or nasty divorce or something was the cause of everything going out.

I don't think we did much for the image of dirty, garbage-looting foreigners, however.


MrsKensington

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2013, 08:29:55 PM »
The last time I moved, I needed a lot of basics and found them set out beside the dumpster: laundry basket, trash can, file cabinet, lamp, IBM Selectric typewriter, book shelf, etc. I have thoughtful neighbors and good timing.

kudy

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2013, 08:59:39 PM »
I am so jealous of everyone who successfully finds food... all trash bins in my area seem to be compactors located in the store.

jomic

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 02:32:55 PM »
  You don't have to dumpster dive for produce. My father keeps a few chickens and he went to the local grocery store about a year ago asking for discarded produce for his birds. He gets anywhere from 2-5 large boxes of produce every week and eats about 3/4 of it himself.  Most people wouldn't believe what gets tossed or given away. Whole bags of fruit with one bad apple. I know you can do this at most any grocery store, they aren't  going to ask for proof of your chicken ownership!

anastrophe

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 02:45:31 PM »
  You don't have to dumpster dive for produce. My father keeps a few chickens and he went to the local grocery store about a year ago asking for discarded produce for his birds. He gets anywhere from 2-5 large boxes of produce every week and eats about 3/4 of it himself.  Most people wouldn't believe what gets tossed or given away. Whole bags of fruit with one bad apple. I know you can do this at most any grocery store, they aren't  going to ask for proof of your chicken ownership!

True story. I have a pet rabbit and my local Whole Foods will give me a giant bag of produce, most of it is perfectly good. But it must be a popular idea because they ask me to call ahead the day before!

Tami1982

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2013, 02:49:29 PM »
It must depend on the store, RE the chicken produce.  I tried to do it at my local Fred Meyer (a Kroger affiliate) and they said they won't do that.  That it gets shipped back to the seller and then they get a credit for it.   Lame!

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2013, 03:51:51 PM »
Around here grocers seem to lock their dumpsters.

EDIT: That's probably more because of the bears, not human dumpster divers.
Produce mostly gets sold at markdown if it's blemished or starting to go off. If I had a chicken, I'd ask, but I don't feel comfortable lying. (I wish I had a chicken, but no space. And even if I did... bears, probably.)

EDIT2: That said, more than 50% of my furniture is other people's castoffs.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 03:55:08 PM by StarswirlTheMustached »

m8547

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2013, 08:16:58 PM »
When I worked at a grocery store, there was a guy who would come in and ask for damaged produce for his horses.  They would give him banana boxes of stuff the produce guys pull while they are stocking the displays.  One thing I was happy to see was that they donated day-old baked goods to a local charities. There were usually one to two shopping carts full of breads, pastries, cookies, etc.

I've found some interesting stuff by the dumpsters at my apartment. A couple years ago I found a huge 36" CRT TV. It probably weighed 80lbs+, and there were no handles so even with two people it was incredibly awkward to move. But it worked fine except for some scratches on the screen from being face down on the ground, and the picture was always a bit blurry. It was too difficult to move, so when we moved out we left it for someone else to enjoy.

Recently I found a logitech Z2300 speaker set, and the only problem was a couple broken connectors. I soldered some new ones on, and the speakers work perfectly now.

Another recent find was a HP all-in-one printer/scanner. I haven't tried it yet because the power supply wasn't included, so powering it will be a bit more difficult , but I'm hoping it works because my old printer broke (and is not cost effective to repair). It would also be nice if the scanner works since I don't have one.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2013, 02:23:55 PM »
I'm happy to see this topic being revived, and I urge everyone interested to go through the extensive information found in the original post shared above. Here it is once again: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/dumpster-diving/

My luck this winter has not be quite as good as last winter, but this is partly due to me not having as much time to hit up my regular dumpsters. I am also thinking that more people are doing this in my area because when I do find food, it is not nearly as much as I was finding last year on a regular basis. With that said, I try to check out grocery dumpsters whenever I am driving by or have 30 minutes to kill.

I want to share what I think is my most informative post from the original thread for any newcomers to this subject:

Quote
I'll start with my mistakes:

1. Make sure you check milk before you try to take them home. My wife and I came home with a dozen half gallons of chocolate milk, expecting to have enough to freeze for the next few months only to find out that they had all gone sour. Other packaged dairy should be fine as long as it is still cold, sealed, and isn't more than a week or so past expiration. Expiration days for most dairy is incredibly conservative.

2. That goes double for produce. We found a 10 lbs. bag of potatoes that looked perfectly fine from the outside, but within a day of being in our house they started leaking a gray liquid and made our whole apartment stink.

Resources:
1. Reddit has a thread on dumpster diving that occasionally has some decent info, but most of it is just people showing off what they found. http://www.reddit.com/r/DumpsterDiving/

2.Check out the book The Art and Science of dumpster Diving, the guy that wrote it has practically made this in to a profession. I think he goes a little to far, but he has tons of good info nonetheless. http://www.amazon.com/Science-Dumpster-Diving-John-Hoffman/dp/1559500883

2. Trashwiki might have some info, depending on where you live. But if it doesn't, I'm sure others would appreciate contributions for the city you live in. http://trashwiki.org/en/Main_Page


What I have learned:

1.Most people recommend that you go in the middle of the night, but I think that just raises suspicion and makes it harder to find things. I prefer to go when there is the least amount of activity in the city. Sunday and Saturday mornings are the best, but I also go out in the afternoon on weekdays. Just try to avoid any times of increased activity such as morning and evening rush hour. More people might see you, but to be honest, I think most people just prefer to act like you don't exist. I have had people watch me from their cars about 10 feet away while I jump in to a dumpster, for the most part if you ignore them, they ignore you.

2. I have one store that is on my path to work that I stop at regularly. This helps learn the habits of the grocery store so you can anticipate when they will be throwing stuff out. For instance, this store marks down a lot of there stuff a couple of days before they throw it out, so if I see that stuff in the store I can anticipate that it will be in the dumpster within a couple of days.

3. My biggest finds always seem to come after a long period of seeing relatively little stuff. It seems that often, stuff gets thrown out together in large batches.

Above all just learn how to identify if food has gone bad, just because one strawberry is moldy it doesn't mean the other 12 are bad too. And pineapples that look black on the outside may look questionable, but there is a good chance that they are still perfectly delicious on the inside. Just understand that, as Americans, we have gotten so used to pristine produce that I think a lot of people just think that any blemish means the food is bad.

I want to add a couple more things to this list:

1. Most low-level employees couldn't care less that you are rooting around in the dumpster, but avoid them anyways. I have had one person confront me angrily and I simply left rather than start a conflict. Managers should be avoided at all costs because they will get upset. Don't let this scare you away though, I ran into an employee one day that simply told me he didn't care, but that I should avoid their manager.

2. Related to #1. Most stores throw trash away at regular times every day. I have found that noon - 2pm and 5 pm - 6pm is not a good time to go because it likely that you will encounter employees that are taking out trash. This is slightly awkward when you are inside the dumpster that they are about to throw trash bags into.

3. A lot of grocery stores receive shipments in the mornings so there is usually increased activity around the dumpster before noon.


Finally, anyone that thinks this is dirty needs to at least go and look at what is out there. Over the last year I have gotten $300 - $400 in meat alone which is almost always thrown out on the freeze-by date. This is convenient considering that the average temperature is about 20 degrees right now where I live, so really they are doing me a favor by freezing the meat before it goes bad. I watched an employee throw out a $40 ham one day which turned into about 8 ham and bean sized portions that are currently residing in my freezer.

Edit: For a while last year I posted some of my finds on this blog for anyone interested in what is out there: http://ben-lloyd.tumblr.com/
« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 02:37:47 PM by CptPoo »

kudy

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2013, 09:26:13 PM »
After reading the other day that the IRS is rediculous enough to expect citizens to pay income tax on the value of anything they steal throughout the year, I am now contemplating whether they'd also expect someone to pay income tax on the value of things they find in dumpsters? (I'm not saying that dumpster diving is stealing)... of course, very unlikely they'd ever audit someone's freezer.


spider1204

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Re: Dumpster diving
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2013, 10:17:21 PM »
Quote
After reading the other day that the IRS is rediculous enough to expect citizens to pay income tax on the value of anything they steal throughout the year, I am now contemplating whether they'd also expect someone to pay income tax on the value of things they find in dumpsters?

So does that mean I can deduct the bike that got stolen out of my front yard last year?