Dumpster divin’ like a pro
A basic tutorial I wrote up…
What to bring
- Flashlight. I prefer a headlamp because it’s hands free.
- Hand sanitizer. I keep a bottle in the car for quick cleanup.
- Broom handle or long stick with a nail in the end. It’s like a claw. One can move stuff around from a distance without having to get in. Some things can be grabbed with it.
- Plastic grocery bags. Quick storage.
- Backpack. Hide stuff in it to not look suspicious.
- Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Plastic bins to transport loot in before it gets washed. I don’t want unwashed stuff in my car.
Where to dive
Many modern commercial buildings have concealed trash compactors rather than traditional dumpsters. There’s no safe way to deal with these. Just leave it. Plenty of other places have small dumpsters with hinged plastic lids that can be opened. Many are low and can be climbed into.
I’ve had a lot of luck with places like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid. I can usually find a lot of snack foods, candy, drinks, etc.
I’ve also had a lot of luck with Winn Dixie. This is the only grocery store in my area which does not use concealed dumpsters. Every night there is a massive amount of food. I can typically find a lot of bread, cakes, fruits, and vegetables. I don’t mess with meat and I am very skeptical towards dairy.
I’ve also had a lot of luck in residential dumpsters outside of condos. Many times people get evicted and there is tons of stuff that was cleared out of the place.
What I typically do
I wait for a business to close. I usually go out about 30 minutes after the place has closed. Many times I’ll park nearby and walk back and check by foot. I peer in and check what I can see. If it looks promising I’ll climb in. Usually nothing is too gross. If anything gross gets on me, I can just shower when I get home. No big deal.
I typically grab a cardboard box and load it with stuff I want. I place this behind the dumpster and come back with my car. I make sure to park somewhere where cameras cannot see me. I carry it into the trunk, throw it in the plastic bins, use hand sanitizer in my hands and DIP OUT.
At home I wash whatever I find and inspect it well. Most food will be cooked, so I’m not concerned with germs. Freeze what is left over or can it.
Many places will throw out food that passes “sell by” date. In many cases this is purely arbitrary. For most of human history there was not a “sell by” date on food. Inspect the food yourself. Most of it is still good. Many fruits and vegetables have cosmetic imperfections. Big deal. Cut them off and save the good parts. Take a shower afterward just in case.
A lot of people bring entire trash bags home in order to open up and inspect. I usually don’t bother looking inside bags. If I did, however, I’m sure I’d find a ton of stuff. I’ll probably start.
What to do if caught
In a lot of places dumpster diving is considered trespassing. I’ve never been caught because I play it smart. If I were, however, I’d just play it cool. If a cop or security guard asks what I’m doing I’d say “Times are tough, what can I say?” and leave if I’m told to. Another useful one I learned from another blog is “Just looking for cardboard boxes to help my friend move.” No big deal. Just be respectful and leave.
Stuff I’ve found
I don’t do this very often, but I’ve still found tons of good stuff.
- 2 vintage Schwinn roadbikes, each on different nights
- A fireproof safe with lock attached
- Really nice, large Nike duffelbag. No damage.
- Pull-up bar
- Bike rack for my car
- Months worth of bread, fruit, and veggies on many occasions
- About $200 worth of protein and nutritional bars
- A dozen bags of chips
- 12 Godiva chocolate bars
And a hell of a lot more.
If anyone ever wants to try this with me, let me know.