Urbandumpsterdiver's Blog

August 26, 2009

How I got started in dumpster diving

Filed under: Uncategorized — urbandumpsterdiver @ 10:48 pm

A couple of years ago I was laid off from my job with no advance warning. Just one day I came into work and it was over before I could turn on my computer. My supervisor called me, we don’t need you anymore, we’re scaling back, buh bye. It was like being dumped, it really hurt. I filed for unemployment and didn’t realize until later that was the start of the recession. I applied for a lot of jobs and just nothing panned out.

After my first bout of unemployment ended, I took 3 minimum wage jobs just to keep food on the table. After two months two of the places closed down and the 3rd laid me off. No unemployment, nothing. I was getting really depressed. Big time. Seeing that I’m single and self sufficient, it’s either sink or swim for me.

A few months later a new unemployment extension was approved in my state. I was so relieved. So I was back on the hamster wheel, drawing unemployment, looking for work.

A few months later after I saw the Oprah broadcast on freeganism, I knew this was something I had to seriously look into. Freegans are those who forage for food out of the dumpster.

Freegan Website

The first night out I recovered out of the trash (this was during the holidays) a 5 foot angel statue, probably a store display. Nothing wrong with it. I gave it to a friend of mine who was a devout catholic and loved the angel statue. Perfect fit. She was so excited when she saw the statue she cried. She was hurting for money and didn’t have that many Christmas decorations so that angel really boosted her spirits.

After that, nightly I would peruse the back alleys and find an enormous amount of treasures. Many nights I have filled up the back of my car. Bananas, oranges, limes, lemons, onions, etc. I never took meat out of the dumpster unless it was pre-cooked or just thrown out (i.e. frozen). I’ve never gotten sick from any of the food I’ve retrieved.

Occasionally the homeless will stop by as I’m diving and ask me if I would retrieve something from the trash for them as I have a little more sophisticated equipment than they do. I can also stay incognito as I look like some surfer chick from the beach. I boogie board every chance I get. One night a man came by and said I’ve heard about you. You’re the one with the golden hair who’s very nice. I remember commenting to him that sometimes I was a little sketchy going out at dark. He said nah, don’t worry. We watch out for you.

One night I found over $200 worth of makeup just dumped in the trash. This was new stuff, no dimestore brand, genuinely good stuff, high end. More makeup than I’ll ever use in a lifetime. There are a couple of places in my area (retail establishments) where most of the people who work there are what I consider the working poor. Most of the makeup I gave to the ladies in the store. Needless to say I get excellent service when I go into that store.

Since I’ve been diving and giving stuff away I never worry about money anymore. I just don’t. It’s changed me in a very big way. I loathe malls and shopping now. I usually just buy small amounts of food, gasoline and necessities. If companies continue to throw perfectly good stuff in the trash – then people like myself and others who need it – will use it.



  1. Just watched the documentary “Dive: Living Off America’s Waste” and started looking for similar blogs. I’m interested to read about your experience with it. Kudos on keeping up with the blog.

    Comment by Rachel — December 26, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  2. Great post. However, when I tried it at my Hollywood Ralphs, they lock the bins. Most grocery stores seem to be doing it. Best I can do is rummaging through their “clearance” table.

    Comment by cartiermccloud — August 18, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

  3. Don’t worry luv. The store employees eventually get lazy and keep the dumpster unlocked. It never fails.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — August 18, 2016 @ 10:04 pm

  4. Thanks, I’ll keep an eye on it.

    Comment by cartiermccloud — August 19, 2016 @ 11:23 am

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