Author Topic: Dumpster Diving  (Read 28448 times)

CptPoo

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Dumpster Diving
« on: February 21, 2012, 08:48:18 AM »
Update: spider1204 has started a thread for sharing unique finds and help selling them http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/the-dumpster-diving-finds-thread/

I am wondering how many people that visit this website go dumpster diving. My wife and I started doing this about a month ago and we have seen huge benefits from doing so. Almost immediately we saw our food expenditures drop by half (this money has gone directly in to our savings account) and there is a selection of items that we will probably never need to buy again. The items that we find far in excess of what we would ever need include: all kinds of fresh veggies and fruit, juice, dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc.) bread, and an assortment of other random items.

We decided to buy a deep freezer to store all of our findings. We had to buy it new because there was nothing on Craigslist, but after two days of gathering food we had it full to the brim with food that was worth almost the cost of the freezer itself.  We live close to Indianapolis so we made a trip one Sunday morning and came home with our car full of free food after hitting about a dozen stores. We had so much that we had to give some away to our friends.

In two days of gathering here is what we found

~20 lbs. of fresh tomatoes that we peeled and froze
~30 lbs. of apples that we peeled, sliced, and froze
~5 dozen bagels and about 6 baguettes from Trader Joe's
7 - half gallon cartons of Organic 1% milk, we froze 6 of them
~15 lbs. of fresh broccoli
~5 lbs. of frozen berries
A bag of frozen corn
2 packages of whole wheat tortillas
~7 lbs. of various kinds of cheese (Swiss, Colby, shredded Mexican, cheddar)
5 lbs. bag of potatoes (We made mashed potatoes and froze individual portions for ourselves)
A LOT of yogurt, some we froze
4 half gallon containers of orange juice
4 Styrofoam containers of mushrooms
~ A dozen assorted bell peppers that we either diced or sliced and froze (Green, Yellow, Orange)
8 packages of organic salad mix that was slightly wilted on top
6 assorted 2 liter bottles of juice
4 dozen organic brown eggs
1 promotional, can storage rack still in the box (We found 2, but only had room for one. It is so handy I wish we had tried to make room for the other.)

And a few other random items

The majority of this went straight in to the freezer, and with the food we have in our apartment right now we could last about 2 months. The thing that blows my mind the most is how much we pass up on. I mean, we only spend a total of about 6 hours on two separate days and we gathered over $200 worth of food. One store we went to in particular could have completely stocked our fridge and deep freezer alone.

Of course, there are risks with doing this, but if you educate yourself on how to identify spoiled food and you either freeze or cook all of the produce, you have very little to worry about. Plus, if you focus on gathering fresh produce, this could be a way for you to eat incredibly healthy and well rounded meals all of the time. It amazes me how quickly these stores throw away produce, if one apple in the bag has a bruise the entire lot gets thrown away.

This could be a great way for many of you to not only live more frugal but also to help clean up after the most wasteful society in the world. If there are any other dumpster divers out there I would love to hear about your great finds.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:32:54 AM by CptPoo »

arebelspy

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 08:51:15 AM »
I have trouble getting on board with this idea, but have no problem with those who do.

Whereas I think most who take issue with it do so because of the "gross" factor, I actually don't mind that as much, but rather feel like it's not worth it, frugality-wise.

I feel like our food costs are low enough that to lower them a bit by dumpster diving wouldn't be worth the time (would save me less than minimum wage), plus giving up some choice of foods.  The value in doing it isn't there for me, basically.
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CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 09:02:54 AM »
You don't have to give up any choice of food at all, we still buy most of our non-perishable items simply because they don't get thrown out as much. You simply just have to try and find ways to incorporate the food you find in to your recipes. For instance, instead of using store-bought spaghetti sauce last week, I used the tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and onions we found in the dumpsters to make a sauce from scratch that was much better than anything store bought, and only took a little more work to prepare.

Your food costs must be pretty low. Over the course of a Saturday and Sunday I spend about 12 hours gathering and preparing the food for the freezer. If you figure that we got about $200 worth of food (which I think is pretty conservative) I essentially earned about $16.50 an hour, which is better than any of the jobs I have ever had.

Mike Key

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 09:14:36 AM »
You're not this guy are you? --> http://vimeo.com/33790355 <- This video will blow your mind for everyone thinking this is gross. Middle Class father has been feeding his family out of all the stuff Whole foods throws away almost daily.

I have trouble getting on board with this idea, but have no problem with those who do.

Whereas I think most who take issue with it do so because of the "gross" factor, I actually don't mind that as much, but rather feel like it's not worth it, frugality-wise.

I feel like our food costs are low enough that to lower them a bit by dumpster diving wouldn't be worth the time (would save me less than minimum wage), plus giving up some choice of foods.  The value in doing it isn't there for me, basically.

That's where I was at too. Until I saw the above video a few weeks back. So I cruised around to check out some dumpsters. I have not actually taken anything yet, but I will say, certain places are so wasteful it's unbelievable, especially food stores.

As pointed out in the video, when you have bags of fruit and one fruit is bad, the whole bag gets throw away by the store. While all the rest might be perfectly good. It's that gross factor that makes the bag unsellable to customers, and thus it goes in the trash.

I had read another article that said somewhere around a half million pounds of perfectly good food gets throw out by grocery markets in the US a day. I can't back this statement up with a source however.

But it honestly would not surprise me. I'm already starting to wake up to how wasteful I am, and how wasteful and lazy we are as a culture.

My wife isn't to keen on the idea, but one of these days I want to scope out a few more places and plan my own dumpster diving adventure.
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arebelspy

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 09:18:22 AM »
Your food costs must be pretty low. Over the course of a Saturday and Sunday I spend about 12 hours gathering and preparing the food for the freezer. If you figure that we got about $200 worth of food (which I think is pretty conservative) I essentially earned about $16.50 an hour, which is better than any of the jobs I have ever had.

My 2011 monthly spending on groceries was $231/mo.  If we'd still need to buy non-perishables, like you suggest, that's likely at least 100-200/mo we'd still need to spend.  Say 150. Meaning we could spend that 12 hours, but it would only cut about 80 from our budget, netting $6.66/hour, and likely less (given you're more experienced, so it would take us more time, we may have to purchase more non-perishables than I estimated, etc.)

Just don't feel like it's worth my time to go dumpster diving to save a few dollars, based on the time it would take me to do so.

But to each his own.  :)
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CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 09:23:14 AM »

You're not this guy are you? --> http://vimeo.com/33790355 <- This video will blow your mind for everyone thinking this is gross. Middle Class father has been feeding his family out of all the stuff Whole foods throws away almost daily.

I have trouble getting on board with this idea, but have no problem with those who do.

Whereas I think most who take issue with it do so because of the "gross" factor, I actually don't mind that as much, but rather feel like it's not worth it, frugality-wise.

I feel like our food costs are low enough that to lower them a bit by dumpster diving wouldn't be worth the time (would save me less than minimum wage), plus giving up some choice of foods.  The value in doing it isn't there for me, basically.

That's where I was at too. Until I saw the above video a few weeks back. So I cruised around to check out some dumpsters. I have not actually taken anything yet, but I will say, certain places are so wasteful it's unbelievable, especially food stores.

As pointed out in the video, when you have bags of fruit and one fruit is bad, the whole bag gets throw away by the store. While all the rest might be perfectly good. It's that gross factor that makes the bag unsellable to customers, and thus it goes in the trash.

I had read another article that said somewhere around a half million pounds of perfectly good food gets throw out by grocery markets in the US a day. I can't back this statement up with a source however.

But it honestly would not surprise me. I'm already starting to wake up to how wasteful I am, and how wasteful and lazy we are as a culture.

My wife isn't to keen on the idea, but one of these days I want to scope out a few more places and plan my own dumpster diving adventure.

That video was one of the first things I saw about dumpster diving, and it probably helped lead me down the path that I am on. The number that I have heard on food waste is that 40% of the food produced in the US is thrown out.

http://www.wastedfood.com/about/

I have found that regional grocery stores are the best. Aldi's is one of my favorite, and in Indiana, we have a store called Marsh that is by far the most wasteful place I have found. I find about 15 lbs. of broccoli at Aldi just about every week, which is great because my wife and I love broccoli.  I think the people working at the store really don't know how to tell if some produce is going bad, and when the broccoli begins to turn even a slight tinge of yellow it gets thrown out. It still has all of the texture and taste and is fantastic steamed.

My wife wasn't keen on it at first either, but I started bringing home food that she loves and she was almost instantly sold on the idea.

Mike Key

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 09:40:02 AM »
Alright, how about sharing some of the pointers and mistakes you've already learned from in your first month? What times are you going to look in the Dumpsters?

We have Aldi's here, and places called Publix. And a few other goof ball chains, like SweetBay. I wish their was a Trader Joe's but there isn't. :(

I'd love to know about any resources you've found useful during this adventure.
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CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 10:19:18 AM »
Sure thing!

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.

chrissyo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2012, 10:27:43 AM »
I saw a documentary on this recently, and thought it was a pretty neat idea. I was particularly impressed to learn some of the sandwich shops here in the UK will leave out everything they've not sold by the end of the day in clear plastic bags for the homeless or other dumpster divers to take and consume. I think for those in need, it's a great way to keep food costs down and also a great way to eliminate wastage.

For me personally though, it's beyond my level of comfort. I also figure that it's better to leave the good food available out there for those who are truly in need, since DH and I are in a pretty comfy financial position and can easily afford to buy groceries the lazy/traditional way.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 11:04:08 AM »
I have 4 different stores that I hit up on a weekly basis and the food I find could easily feed all of the homeless and impoverished people that live here, and still have more to spare.

I think the biggest benefit is that you can help reduce waste. I once found 4 pounds of ground chuck and two one pound sirloin steaks in the same dumpster. If you consider the amount of energy and materials that goes in to producing that meat, I helped saved about 2.5 pounds of corn and about 2,500 gallons of water per pound that I found. Thus, making an unsustainable food source (by the way we produce it today) slightly more sustainable. If I hadn't been there, someone else might have eventually visited that dumpster, but maybe not. Gathering my food from dumpsters not only helps my wallet, but also helps everyone else that consumes food in this world by slightly reducing demand and bringing down prices.

Mike Key

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2012, 12:29:13 PM »
Dangit, I'll have to wait for car access. I just road my bike up to the Walmart and Publix by my house and both have large trash compactors sealed up, connected to the building and no visible outside dumpsters. Boo Hoo :'(
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Green Manalishi

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2012, 12:58:01 PM »
Great thread, I don't think I'd have the balls to do it but I commend you for doing it. As well as the money saving and sustainability aspects, do you also find that there is a thrill associated with the "hunt"?

velocistar237

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2012, 01:20:39 PM »
Okay, a couple of questions: Are there any legal issues? Has anyone told you to stop and not come back?

Any more tips on how to get over my hang-ups with this idea?

Eristheunorganized

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2012, 01:51:24 PM »
I used to go all the time, but here in Western Washington, we've instituted compost bins. In these bins, all the packaging is removed for commercial compost. So, all the cereal, pasta, packed tomatoes and what not are all thrown into one big, squishy bin. That kinda killed it for me. Which is a shame, because before that I got great hauls.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 01:55:33 PM by Eristheunorganized »

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2012, 01:55:12 PM »
Dangit, I'll have to wait for car access. I just road my bike up to the Walmart and Publix by my house and both have large trash compactors sealed up, connected to the building and no visible outside dumpsters. Boo Hoo :'(

I've yet to find any of the big box retailers (Wal-Mart, Meijer, Target) that have accessible dumpsters outside. I'm betting that they don't want people to see the amount of waste they create. The small to medium size grocery stores seem to be the best.

Great thread, I don't think I'd have the balls to do it but I commend you for doing it. As well as the money saving and sustainability aspects, do you also find that there is a thrill associated with the "hunt"?

I enjoy not knowing what I will find each day, it makes every dive a surprise. I've gotten to try a lot of different packaged foods that I otherwise wouldn't have because I wouldn't have spent the money if I went in the store.

Okay, a couple of questions: Are there any legal issues? Has anyone told you to stop and not come back?

Any more tips on how to get over my hang-ups with this idea?

Legal issues vary by state and by municipality. In general, it is only trespassing if there is a fence or there are "No Trespassing" signs posted. I wouldn't worry about cameras, because those are only checked after something  bad happens. (break-in, mugging, etc.) Plus, you can be in and out in 10 to 15 minutes which is a lot quicker than police response would be most of the time. If you are confronted, just be courteous and leave. The only people I have ever met on a dive was an elderly couple that was searching for food too. They were incredibly nice and helped me get my haul out of the dumpster.

Like I said above, most people really don't want to acknowledge the fact that you are there getting searching through a dumpster. They would rather ignore you than think about the fact the someone is doing this. I've never had a run-in with an employee, and honestly I don't worry about it to much. I doubt a person working for $8 an hour is going to care that I am digging through the trash.

If you are still having second thoughts, just keep this in mind. You don't have to take any food that you don't want to touch because there will always be more. If something is covered in slime, you can just leave it where it is and look for something that isn't. Actually, most of the time you don't even have to get in. I can usually reach a substantial amount of food just from the outside, and to be honest, most dumpsters aren't that gross. I have only found a couple that are to bad to get in, and you probably touch public doors that have more germs than many of these dumpsters.

Mike Key

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2012, 02:06:22 PM »
Okay, a couple of questions: Are there any legal issues? Has anyone told you to stop and not come back?

Any more tips on how to get over my hang-ups with this idea?

Most states do no have laws against it. Some local municipalities do though. But generally no. If there is a no trespassing sign, then you'd be breaking the law. I suppose store owners could chase you off. But technically law wise, trash is considered abandoned property.
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AJ

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2012, 11:30:59 AM »
Another option, if you're squeamish about actually getting into the dumpster, is to go in and tell the manager you have a pig farm. My mother has worked in a chain grocery store for 25 years. Many times, they are required to dispose of perfectly good food for legal reasons. For example, after a power outage a few years ago, she had to throw out thousands of dollars of frozen vegetables that had thawed. They weren't bad yet, but since they had thawed they couldn't sell or donate them. She said they are allowed to give them to farmers to feed pigs, but can't give them to anyone for human consumption. In that instance, the pig farmer she had a number for must have moved because she couldn't reach him and she ended up trashing it all. A lot of the borderline produce is also disposed if that way.

What is even worse, though, is that TONS of perfectly good stuff is thrown away. Holiday cookies are a good example. The store gets a credit from the manufacturer for any of those sugar cookies with the holiday imprints on them that don't sell. However, to get the credit they have to send in the packaging. So, my mom has to open all the packages and throw the contents into the garbage so she can send back the package. The dough is not even close to expiration, it is just a money thing. In that case, there isn't really anything that can be done. :(

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 10:53:15 AM »
If anyone is interested, I have decided to start posting my dumpster findings, and the meals I make with the food I find on my tumblr.

http://ben-lloyd.tumblr.com/

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2012, 09:05:31 AM »
I love this thread - when we lived in the city, my husband and I would cruise the wealthy areas of town on Tuesday nights to "go shopping" before the Wednesday garbage pick up.  Date-night  :-)
Some of my favorite things in the house are from the side of the road, the dumpster and the alley. 

onehappypanda

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2012, 06:18:50 PM »
This is an AWESOME thread. My first response was "ick" but I didn't even think of all the in-package food that stores throw away. Trader Joe's is pretty far away from me but there's a Whole Foods nearby, so I might just have to check with them. Or tell the natural store nearby that I need to feed some piggies (they don't need to know if the only piggie is me right? ;))

I too worry about the legal issue though. Most stores around me have "no trespassing" signs but don't strictly enforce that unless you're causing a problem, something I noticed because whenever I need a cardboard box I blatantly ignore those signs and go diving in the cardboard dumpster.

I always wondered if it would be worth it to get a side job in a grocery store. I know someone who has one at a natural food's store and he comes home with a heck of a lot of reject food.

cosmie

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2012, 08:36:11 PM »
Grocery stores aren't the only place to go dumpster diving. My mom used to work for a vending company that serviced products in Lowes, she dealt mostly with locks and plumbing fixtures. When they'd take a display down, or she took back returns for products she serviced, she was supposed to "dispose of them off of the premises". But a lot of vendors simply chucked them in the trash if they didn't want to keep them for themselves.

I know that when she stopped working as a vendor a few years back, Lowes was in the process of transitioning the product servicing to in-house employees. I'm not sure if that affected the policies regarding what to do with displays and returns, but it's worth a look.

Apartments are also a good place to look for general stuff. My grandfather used to dumpster dive in apartment complexes (usually ones he lived in), and would find everything from premium baseball card collections to furniture to perfectly good clothing. It's apparently a common occurrence for women to chuck a guy's stuff into the trash when they break up, without realizing that his "stupid old baseball card collection" is actually worth $10,000.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 08:38:21 PM by cosmie »

Mike Key

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2012, 09:28:48 PM »
I'm starting to wonder if my city has some sort of ordinance in place. I've hit up multiple stores where they sell food and each time, large sealed trash compactor, no dumpsters. I find it kinda odd. But the other night, when we road over to a friends, who lives in Largo, we spotted two dumpsters behind a Winn Dixie.

Winn Dixie by me, trash compactor. Was seriously hoping I could do this on my bike, not night runs in the car, but oh well.
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CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2012, 11:22:11 AM »
If you do it right, you should only have to go once every 2-4 weeks. I hit up about a dozen stores over the course of 2 days and found enough food for a month or more. So traveling a little further won't be quite as bad. Just make sure you have ample space to store everything.

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2012, 06:38:45 AM »
I am an avid dumpster diver, but I usually don't get food for myself (although I have). Any food matter I feed to my Black Soldier Fly Larvae. It is a form of vermicomposting. They eat anything, and the colony can eat several pounds of food a day. I feed the grubs to my chicken, and the compost for planting.

I actually sell the other things I find in the dumpster. I live in the perfect place for diving, because it is a college town. At the end of each semester they throw away stuff you wouldn't believe. Clothes, furniture, electronics, everything. I get a special type of satisfaction selling stuff that I got for free out of a dumpster.

I have found working TVs, clothes with the tags still on, textbooks I have sold for $50 bucks, etc. It's wild.

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2012, 06:46:39 AM »
Sure thing!

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.

Ditto on "The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving". I have a copy and it is awesome. It is out of print but you can still find copies on amazon.

I also agree with going on saturday or sunday for several reasons.
1. that's when most people have free time.
2. Many businesses are closed so its easier
3. going at night IS more suspicious looking

A couple places to check out:

1. Bread or bakery stores They cycle a lot of their products DAILY, so there is always a ton of stuff that is not old at all.
2. Apartments. Don't only hit commercial dumpsters. Apartment complexes have a lot of advantages. They are never locked, you will find a wider variety of stuff, etc.
3. construction dumpsters - you have to be careful with these, as work sites have problems with theft so they are wary of people poking around. But you can find a lot of material for projects, or scrap metal / copper etc.

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2012, 06:51:50 AM »
I love this thread - when we lived in the city, my husband and I would cruise the wealthy areas of town on Tuesday nights to "go shopping" before the Wednesday garbage pick up.  Date-night  :-)
Some of my favorite things in the house are from the side of the road, the dumpster and the alley.

I went on the website for the waste management company for my city and downloaded a map that shows which part of the city has garbage pickup on which days, so I can cruise the areas the night before they have their pickup. People throw away all types of stuff. Chairs and desks, etc. I just sold an office chair that I got curbside for $15. It's great.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2012, 09:29:33 AM »
I went on the website for the waste management company for my city and downloaded a map that shows which part of the city has garbage pickup on which days, so I can cruise the areas the night before they have their pickup. People throw away all types of stuff. Chairs and desks, etc. I just sold an office chair that I got curbside for $15. It's great.

I had never though of doing this. I just checked my city's waste management page and they have a similar map. Great idea!

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2012, 10:05:17 AM »
If you happen to be near a university, find out when the semesters end and check the dumpsters at all the local apartments for the whole week before and after the last day of class. They throw away EVERYTHING.

I have found an entire garbage bag stuffed full of clothes, at least half with the tags still on. One was a tie from Men's Warehouse with the tag still on, and a price of $60. I turned it back in and got a gift card (since I didn't have a receipt). Sold the gift card for about 55 bucks on eBay.  Did the same with a bunch of other clothes, sold the rest at garage sales.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2012, 11:18:24 AM »
I actually live in University owned apartments, and I work for an apartment complex for college students. I have seen what college kids throw away. There is actually a younger couple that I have seen a few times driving around the complex I work at, as well as the one next door to it, checking the dumpsters.

milkman

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2012, 11:46:53 AM »
Why dont u guys just live on the streets to cut down on your expenses lol!

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2012, 11:54:34 AM »
Why dont u guys just live on the streets to cut down on your expenses lol!

People hear 'dumpster diving' and get images of broken, nasty stuff coated with a layer of slime. But its not like that.

as I said, I get stuff from the dumpsters to SELL it. That means people are paying money for this stuff and don't know it came from a dumpster. Hardly like living on the street.

I know you're joking, but its not like I am collecting people's used boxes to make a shanty to live in. The Stuff I get is at least as good as anything you would get at garage sales and thrift stores.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2012, 05:37:03 PM »
Why dont u guys just live on the streets to cut down on your expenses lol!

There is a difference between looking for scraps and finding food. There is no way I could afford to buy all of the food I have been finding in the dumpster, and my food quality has increased drastically. I would bet you that I eat much healthier food out of the dumpster than most of the other college students out there pay for.

I mean, how many college students can afford to cook a $16 roast on the weekend? I know I couldn't, but the one I found in the dumpster tasted just as good as the same roast that other people paid for.

zoltani

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2012, 09:08:57 PM »
I've done this once....the trader joe's dumpster yielded a bag of mixed veggies and some pasta, and the co-op dumpster gave me some bread....boo ya, full dinner for free!

msmo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2012, 08:44:43 PM »
After reading about it online a couple of years ago, I've casually attempted this in my own neighborhood. I could never find an open Dumpster with anything worth salvaging. I do believe that we waste a lot; I just think that businesses in my area keep things out of sight, in the name of beautification as well as keeping the homeless away (neither helps tho). I do live a very urban area. Are you folks in a city or more in the suburbs? My theory is that the waste is more prevalent in the suburban areas. I should test my theory by waking up early one Sunday and driving out there.

Erin

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2012, 09:22:30 AM »
She hasn't updated her blog in forever, but I loved reading her and found it fascinating:

http://fruganliving.com/

onehappypanda

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2012, 03:28:10 PM »
After reading about it online a couple of years ago, I've casually attempted this in my own neighborhood. I could never find an open Dumpster with anything worth salvaging. I do believe that we waste a lot; I just think that businesses in my area keep things out of sight, in the name of beautification as well as keeping the homeless away (neither helps tho). I do live a very urban area. Are you folks in a city or more in the suburbs? My theory is that the waste is more prevalent in the suburban areas. I should test my theory by waking up early one Sunday and driving out there.

I'd be curious to see what you found.

My guess would be that waste is equally prevalent in suburbs and urban areas, at least initially. But having lived in an urban area already, there are already a lot of dumpster divers around "recycling" the good stuff. I bet the competition might be less stiff in suburbs.

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #36 on: March 03, 2012, 11:59:36 AM »
After reading about it online a couple of years ago, I've casually attempted this in my own neighborhood. I could never find an open Dumpster with anything worth salvaging. I do believe that we waste a lot; I just think that businesses in my area keep things out of sight, in the name of beautification as well as keeping the homeless away (neither helps tho). I do live a very urban area. Are you folks in a city or more in the suburbs? My theory is that the waste is more prevalent in the suburban areas. I should test my theory by waking up early one Sunday and driving out there.

I'd be curious to see what you found.

My guess would be that waste is equally prevalent in suburbs and urban areas, at least initially. But having lived in an urban area already, there are already a lot of dumpster divers around "recycling" the good stuff. I bet the competition might be less stiff in suburbs.

Urban areas are also more likely to use compactors or have locks on the dumpsters.

Gerard

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2012, 03:45:49 PM »
I live in the perfect place for diving, because it is a college town. At the end of each semester they throw away stuff you wouldn't believe. Clothes, furniture, electronics, everything. I get a special type of satisfaction selling stuff that I got for free out of a dumpster.

I have found working TVs, clothes with the tags still on, textbooks I have sold for $50 bucks, etc. It's wild.

I was going to post this, but you beat me to it. I see great stuff tossed by students the day they move out of res, and I work at a *poor* school! I can only imagine what gets thrown out at the posh places.

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2012, 06:16:42 PM »
WOW! I am going to make a point of attempting my own day of dumpster diving ASAP, just to see what it is like.

I definitely don't have any fear of eating any discarded food I find, but I admit I'm a little bit nervous about the actual act of riding into that alley, lifting up the bin, and hopping in - not knowing who will walk by while I'm doing it. But that just means it's a comfort zone expanding exercise that I MUST do!

Hopefully I will find some open ones. I did notice that the Safeway near me has the sealed-to-the-building type of compactor/dumpster (no external access). But I'll start with the Natural Grocers (sort of a Whole Foods style place). Smaller, and potentially nicer products.

TwoPupsOnACouch

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2012, 09:17:37 PM »
Thank you so much for adding this topic.  We just took the plunge Saturday night at 2am when driving home from a friends house (so no gasoline wasted MMM!). We filled us our entire truck on our hatchback.  When we got home we sorted good food from rotten and scrubbed everything even though everything had already been sealed in plastic.  The sorting only took a minute as 99% of everything was in perfect shape.  For the most part, it seems like produce would get thrown away due to a single wilted leaf or one rotten grape.  Oddly, most of the produce was better than what I'd purchased at the same store the day before since it was at peak ripeness.  That one trip was enough groceries, mostly consisting of fresh produce, to last one week.  Whatever wasn't good was added to our compost bin and the packaging recycled.  So considering the enormous waste that was saved from the landfill and the financial benefit I'd definately recommend trying it at least once.  Just be safe and don't leave a mess.

Eristheunorganized

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2012, 11:20:36 AM »
WOW! I am going to make a point of attempting my own day of dumpster diving ASAP, just to see what it is like.

I definitely don't have any fear of eating any discarded food I find, but I admit I'm a little bit nervous about the actual act of riding into that alley, lifting up the bin, and hopping in - not knowing who will walk by while I'm doing it. But that just means it's a comfort zone expanding exercise that I MUST do!


I would point I generally didn't go into the bins. Normally I used a stick to turn over and poke through likely looking bags.

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2012, 12:06:04 PM »
I would point I generally didn't go into the bins. Normally I used a stick to turn over and poke through likely looking bags.
[/quote]

Agreed , and I found a broom handle, bags/boxes and work gloves to be very handy. 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 12:08:10 PM by JanMN »

MountainMan

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2012, 12:50:21 PM »
I used to dumpster dive just for kicks.

A friend and I went around town looking in dumpsters to see what we'd find.  it was interesting.

Most of it was junk that we found, but sometimes there was interesting stuff.  Most interesting for me was the dumpster behind a local bakery.  They'd toss old stuff that wasn't bad yet.  It would all be wrapped up in their original packaging and conveniently placed in a white trash bag.  Couldn't have been cleaner. 

But it took a lot of time out of my day to rove from one bin to another looking for stuff.

I think, to be worth your time, you'd have to figure out an efficient route timed with the big-haul days.  So you could quickly look and pull stuff out without much effort.  And it would be best if it was along a route you were traveling anyway, such as to get to a job, or something.

The Money Monk

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2012, 12:53:34 PM »
I used to dumpster dive just for kicks.

A friend and I went around town looking in dumpsters to see what we'd find.  it was interesting.

Most of it was junk that we found, but sometimes there was interesting stuff.  Most interesting for me was the dumpster behind a local bakery.  They'd toss old stuff that wasn't bad yet.  It would all be wrapped up in their original packaging and conveniently placed in a white trash bag.  Couldn't have been cleaner. 

But it took a lot of time out of my day to rove from one bin to another looking for stuff.

I think, to be worth your time, you'd have to figure out an efficient route timed with the big-haul days.  So you could quickly look and pull stuff out without much effort.  And it would be best if it was along a route you were traveling anyway, such as to get to a job, or something.


Most of those types of stores have very specific schedules, so it is not hard to quickly establish a 'route' and know which days to go to which stores. 

MountainMan

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #44 on: March 09, 2012, 08:17:38 AM »
Most of those types of stores have very specific schedules, so it is not hard to quickly establish a 'route' and know which days to go to which stores.

That's true.  I think, like Arebelspy said, the cost of food can be so low (depending on what you buy) that to make it really worth your time to dumpster dive food, it's best to establish a route to maximize value for your time put into it.  It just didn't seem to be an effective use of my time to follow my friend's lead to randomly pick dumpsters to look though each week.  For best results, it needs to be better organized than that.

arebelspy

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2012, 11:15:07 AM »
Most of those types of stores have very specific schedules, so it is not hard to quickly establish a 'route' and know which days to go to which stores.

That's true.  I think, like Arebelspy said, the cost of food can be so low (depending on what you buy) that to make it really worth your time to dumpster dive food, it's best to establish a route to maximize value for your time put into it.  It just didn't seem to be an effective use of my time to follow my friend's lead to randomly pick dumpsters to look though each week.  For best results, it needs to be better organized than that.

Yeah, I think when you have it established, it'll be much more efficient.

I'm thinking about trying it out just for kicks, but I don't think it'll be an actual cost-effective, time-wise, strategy for me.

But you're right, a route would help a lot.
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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2012, 12:46:49 PM »
Impressive!  I watched "Dive" recently and my whole impression of dumpster diving totally changed.  I had no idea you could get such great food that way.  I haven't read through this whole thread (sorry, no time right now), but just wanted to mention this documentary in case anyone was interested in learning more.  I found it to be very interesting and informative.

CptPoo

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #47 on: March 11, 2012, 08:51:22 PM »
I'm happy to see so many people interested in this. There is so much food out there in grocery store dumpsters that it could feed just about anyone that is interested.

After about 2 full months of diving, we have racked up a great assortment of things that are currently frozen in our deep freezer. This freezer is definitely worth its weight in gold, and before it gets to warm to dive my wife and I should have about all of the food we will need for this summer.

I have found a great amount of non-perishables in the last month, including about a month's supply of cereal. We have been finding so much food that we have been able to cut our grocery trips back to about once every 2 - 3 weeks. And each individual trip has remained about the same cost as our weekly trips used to be.

I would estimate that our food costs are now about 75% lower than they were three months ago.

TwoPupsOnACouch

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2012, 08:08:37 PM »
Cptpoo, Just wanted to send you a great big THANK YOU for starting this thread now that it has been a while since the initial post.  I had not taken the idea of dumpster diving seriously until I saw the subject here on the forum.  We only bother to dive at the closest grocery store to us and yet we come home with bags of fresh produce all the time.  We've saved at least $400 per month on food, plus save $100 on eating out since there is always food needing to be used up at home.  There have also been unexpected finds of working goods that are still in the box such as: a carpet washer, hose, electric knife sharpener, body fat scale and other packaged goods.  Your post has truly brough us many gifts and I can't help but think that this will help us build significant wealth and save loads from being hauled to the dump over time.
Also, I was wondering if you had heard of freeganism and your thoughts on the subject.
Again, Thank You!

kudy

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Re: Dumpster Diving
« Reply #49 on: May 06, 2012, 10:42:15 PM »
Soooooo tempting. like MMM said, maybe should do it just to expand my comfort zone.

I have a full size freezer in my garage that would be great for storing finds. I have a bit of the "scared of food" that was mentioned on the Dive! documentary... I am scared of not being able to tell when food is bad, and not knowing how long something's been in the dumpster.