Dumpster Diving Tips and Tricks

August 11, 2009

Green DumpsterThis tip might sound a little horrible to some but I like to go driving through the cemetery and looking into the waste baskets. A deflated helium balloon makes a great wrapping paper and there is always a ribbon attached to it. Or you could get some lovely plastic flowers.


After certain holidays you can find some holiday decorations there too. The loved one's who are visiting will often throw them out when changing to new flowers or decorations or the cemetery workers come along and throw things out, like a deflated balloon.

I would NEVER take ANYTHING off a grave. But if it's in the waste basket, it's better that someone else gets enjoyment, and use out of it than it sitting in a dump.

By Christina from KCMO

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March 12, 2008

I collect old wooden windows for crafts and find most out on trash day. On this particular day, I spotted a window frame under some items. After moving them away, this is what I found!

One Man's Treasure, Stained Glass

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June 21, 2006

It occurred to me that the local grocery store throws away bruised fruit and spotted veggies everyday that I could put to good use if I prepared them right away.

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March 7, 2005

Being a college student for the past couple of years, I've had to figure out ways to decorate my apartments I've lived in to not only represent my style, but do it cheaply. And the answer is very clear, especially for those living in college towns: dumpsters.

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April 29, 2014

If you live near any university area and there are students from all over the country or foreign students, watch out when school is over. Some students throw away everything they own when they have to move back home.


From dry or canned food stuff, dishes, to beds; you take your pick.

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March 18, 2009

Think green when starting seeds in the spring! I went to local cemeteries around Memorial Day the year prior and had the groundskeepers save the packs and trays, for me. It saved me from having to buy them!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 10, 2010

Lately, I've been hearing and reading articles on dumpster diving. It's something I'm really willing to do it since it helps reduce waste and many other reasons. The thing is where are some good places to look for food, clothes, random things, etc.? When is the best time to go? And if you know of other helpful information, please do share. I know already it's illegal where I live. Thanks.

By ChildGoddess from Kenora, Ontario


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June 10, 20101 found this helpful

Please don't pick food from dumpsters, you could get deathly sick if you eat any of it.

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June 10, 20100 found this helpful

I've saved some fantastic things from the land fill including an antique ball and claw foot book case! It had a couple of scratches, but nothing that old english wouldnt cover up!


I just recommend that if it's from a neighbors house... wait until everyone leaves for work before poking through any discards.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

I wouldn't take anything out of a dumpster that I would actually have to move garbage to get at. In the apartment complex that I live in when people discard a piece of furniture they set it beside the dumpster, and in a matter of time somebody has taken it. I also wouldn't take anything upholstered out of a dumpster. If it is sitting beside the dumpster that is another matter.


In SD a lot of cities have a designated day where the city will go around and pick up large items of whatever that a person wants to get rid of. This is done free of charge as long as you have sitting curbside. It is also a well known fact that people driving by will stop and rummage through your pile of stuff and if they see something they want they take it.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

Our area just had major flooding in the basements. I would not take anything from a dumpster or from the curb. Could be contaminated with things you don't know. Yuck.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

All of these are great ideas, including the cautions. My Dad had a business which created waste [plastic scraps, large paper bags], which he took to the land fill himself about once a month. He used to look through stuff and got things like a great waffle iron he cleaned and used for years [pre non-stick years]. He had a great waffle recipe. He collected bike parts and made new bikes for kids in the family.


Spray painted them to be all same color.

Recycling centers will sometimes let you take things for minimal charge or none. Depends on how it's done in your area. A walk through an area on garbage day will sometimes be fruitful. Things along side or just on top of can. I wouldn't put hand in garbage can, for health reasons. Businesses often put things outside in industrial areas. You can ask if you can have something.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

In my area people can't get into landfills anymore to pick through stuff.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

First you should probably check into your local regulations about removing stuff from other people's dumpsters. It's a lot more legal then most people think, although it is very illegal in some areas.


Thrift stores are good, and grocery stores, or just keeping your eyes open when you're walking around (I've found a lot of jewelry material this way).

Please, to keep up the rep of the rest of us, respect people when they ask you to leave, and if possible leave a place nicer then when you got there.

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June 12, 20100 found this helpful

It's a shame the waste in this country with so many homeless and hungry people. Grocery stores and wholesales clubs throw away hundreds of dollars of good food every day. Anyone working at these places know what I mean. The warehouse club I worked for would throw it away before they would reduce the prices and sell to employees.

They could donate food to shelters but they say they could get sued if someone good sick. I admire people who dumpster dive but where I live it's illegal and it's even illegal to place items outside and beside the dumpsters. When I was a child our family went to the city dumping grounds and brought home canned foods. If it weren't for that place we'd been close to starving.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

Since it's illegal to do in your area I would suggest against it and, as others mentioned here, because of health safety issues so that's something to consider, too. Find out if it's legal to take items set out for collection "that are not in trash cans or dumpsters" though ;-)

I've found great finds outside of dumpsters like an almost new really nice and perfect colors for my home room size oriental rug (vacuumed and cleaned with carpet cleaner before bringing it in my home), a really nice six foot tall silk tree, oodles of nice planters, dishes and one time even almost three six packs of unopened Budweiser beers in bottles in a paper grocery bag (the tenant had been evicted and landlords can not keep anything for themselves). All these items plus more were set outside of dumpsters :-)

Another thing you can do is get to know managers at your local various stores and let them know you would appreciate if they would call you before throwing away certain items that you might be able to use. As long as it's not against store policy you'll find that many managers will be more than happy to give away rather than throw away :-)

I would not suggest taking any item that is upholstered (sofa, chairs, mattress, etc) because you don't know if there might be cockroaches or mice or other creatures in them :-o And if you find clothing be sure to immediately put them in the washing machine in hot water and a little extra soap!

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October 8, 20100 found this helpful

I love free stuff! I haven't crossed the line of dumpster diving for food (like behind supermarkets though). I make my own dog food for my 2 dogs. The other day, the supermarket was out of giblets, and the butcher told me she just threw a bunch out yesterday. It crossed my mind to come back and dive for them. I don't have the gall to do it, plus I think my boyfriend would be disgusted.

I just ate when good things go to waste. I've certainly rescued a lot of furniture, knick knacks, and i have an online bookstore with 600 books and counting (mostly found for free and rescued from demise.)

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December 19, 2011

Please help me if you can. I live in Australia and I'm also new to this site. I have never heard of dumpster diving. I know I don't get out much, but this is new to me. By the way, your site is great!

By Nancy from Sheidow Park, So. Australia

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November 9, 2016

This is a page about "What is dumpster diving?". Collecting items to reuse or recycle can be done in many ways.

Dumpster Diver

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 10, 2010

If people in your area or town put other items in the trash, besides, general food garbage; check out the pile(s). There may be something useful in the pile you could take for free or for a cheap price.

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