Urbandumpsterdiver's Blog

December 13, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Filed under: Homeless Living/Survivalism/Prepping — urbandumpsterdiver @ 12:23 am

I recently came back from a road trip visiting family. Traveled 3,000 miles in 3 weeks. I’m done with driving. I’m home for the holidays. If I do any driving it’s to the local grocery store or local dumpster diving.

Traveled through east Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

While in Alabama came upon an older lady (probably in her 70’s) who was dumpster diving behind a spot I’d frequented. The DD rules are simple, who is there first, gets the goods first. We talked a little. I asked her what she found and she showed me. Lots of crackers, food and odds and ends. I asked her if she did this a lot and she said, “this is how I survive”.

Isn’t this sad? THIS boys and girls is the face of America. Older seniors dumpster diving for food. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, your politicians do not give a damn about you. Neither do most of these non-profit agencies OR the churches. The people who do need their help, i.e the disenfranchised, the homeless, the mentally ill are simply left behind and many of them die without family knowing it. Many homeless people and runaways are dead years before their family find out.

While traveling found some good stuff; paper plates, another Keurig coffee maker, a lovely memory foam neck pillow (perfect for sitting on the recliner typing on my laptop), a couple of glass tumblers (the kind with the straw into the hole of the lid), shelves for my husband’s storage shed, 15 containers of sweet tea, strainer for the kitchen sink, food, bags of fruit (only one apple had a bruise), vitamins (brand new in box), new magazines and paperback books, nutritional supplements and energy drinks, Christmas ornaments (one was broken, they threw the entire box out), bunch of boxes and bubble wrap (no need to buy bubble wrap and boxes to ship Christmas gifts, there are tons in the dumpster).

It was good to see my family, real good.



  1. Awesome. I was hoping you would post soon!

    Comment by Maureen Martin — December 13, 2011 @ 12:28 am

  2. Wondered where ya disappeared to.

    Comment by ghostwisdom — December 13, 2011 @ 12:32 am

  3. How do you know where it’s legal to go dumpster diving and not if it’s not advertised in the paper or Craig’s List? Are there certain times?

    Went dumpster diving over the weekend at a local carpet floor installer and found some carpet remnants to make into throw rugs around the house. Got a clean pallet to break up and make into a cabinet, too. A little polyurethane and it’s just as nice looking as any other shabby chic cabinet I’ve seen on the Internet. Found a pile of larger pallets to break up and use as supports for a tiny camper trailer I’m building. This place was advertised on Craig’s List though.

    Comment by Charlotte — December 13, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  4. Welcome back.

    Comment by Ryu — December 13, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  5. Thank-you!

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — December 13, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  6. Charlotte luv, dumpster diving is not advertised in the newspaper. DD’ng is a revolutionary act, not something in the mainstream. I go at night to avoid management and employees. A business usually doesn’t advertise on CL to bring in dumpster divers.

    In California supreme court California vs. Greenwood, established that something in the trash is now public domain.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — December 13, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  7. I never thought of dumpster diving as a revolutionary act. Thought of it as more of a laid back approach to recycling and freeganism.

    Way back in my prime dumpster diving days (the 80s), the dumpsters were along back roads at intersections in a very rural part of Mississippi and not behind businesses in a city. Man, those were the good old days in dumpster diving. People would lay the good items they didn’t want anymore beside the dumpster instead of tossing it in. Got a dinged up but usable across the bed toolbox for small pickup trucks once. I repaired the broken lid with a gate hinge. Used it for years as storage for oil cans and such. The rats couldn’t get in and soil it or build nests like they can in cardboard boxes or open shelves.

    With my layoff going on into 3 years this month and being able to find only minimum wage jobs here and there, I’m back into dumpster diving. Will have to be a bit stealthy though. The hard times around here are making folks scared and a bit mean. Use to when folks tried to break into your house, you hollered or sicked the dogs on them. You shot over their heads as they ran off screaming for mercy. Now it’s shoot the outlaw dead through the door or when they are halfway in a window. Mississippi home owners are taking the Castle Doctrine law seriously. The news is fairly common on local TV of gunned down house burglars or gut shot house burglars dumped off in hospital parking lots by their friends.

    If it’s hard out there in the more prosperous states, Mississippi— the poorest state in the Union where I live, is really suffering. Thank you, Lord Jesus, I know how to hunt, fish, learned edible wild plants and mushrooms,and have a small garden. Will keep coming back to your website for tips, tricks, and first hand accounts of successful dumpster diving in a city environment.

    Comment by Charlotte — December 13, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

  8. Charlotte, I feel your pain, I really do. When I was laid off in 2007 I thought I could get another job right away. Oh not so fast I found out. Things were starting to fall apart then. Even when the housing boom in 2006 was going crazy, I told myself and others this housing craze is a bubble and will not last. I got laughed at and called a conspiracy theorist. Oh well.

    In 2008 I had 3 minimum wage jobs. One closed down, the other laid me off for lack of business and I had one standing and that one ended shortly thereafter. I had nothing, no unemployment, nothing. Then a few days later my motherboard on my PC died so I had no way at home of sending out resumes. Thankfully it was under warranty and could be fixed, but I was without a PC for 2 weeks. I had to go to the library but that is cumbersome. I sat on my porch and cried. My neighbor gave me his collection of pop cans to take to the recycling center to get some money. That netted me about $35 so I could buy food.

    I started eating at the soup kitchens and picking up cans for a living. 2009 and 2010 wasn’t much better. However, I was much happier as I wasn’t an office drone trying to suck-up and brown-nose the powers that be to keep a job. Talk about hurting your health. I feel for the workers who are still working now. They always have that hanging over their head that if they get fired or laid off.

    I would clean up your stuff and sell it through Amazon. Amazon is a good company. You can check the price what others are selling and make it comparable.

    Now in some parts of Alabama I’ll see couples or singles with a few tables on the highway with a huge garage sale sign. I bought some good stuff in Arkansas this year at a local garage sale. On Highway 64 there is a HUGE garage sale for 2 weeks.


    I don’t blame the owners taking the Castle law seriously. My husband works hard for his stuff, if someone wants to steal it and harm us, we will protect ourselves. I will think of some more tips and post them later.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — December 14, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  9. I have noticed since the layoff in 2008, I am happier in one regard. No more push push push to get the work done. If anything makes me nervous now, it’s looking forward in time and trying to see through the mist and attempt to figure out what’s going to happen next. So, I’m prepping. Getting rid of clothes, gear, and junk I don’t use anymore. Going smaller, leaner, and faster. With all the local charities asking for help of any kind, it will a good thing to clean out the closet and toss it their way. I have several warm hunting coats and jackets a homeless person could use simply to stay alive as they live in the woods or under the I-20 bridges.

    I’m in the process of building a tiny camper. About seven feet wide and eleven to twelve feet long. It’s going to be home with the basics of a bed, toilet, dinette, wood heater, and sink. I’m no stranger to bathing out of a 5-gallon bucket with water heated over a camp fire. Having lived in truck campers and a bit larger bumper pull since late 1995, I’m no stranger to it.

    Trying to get off the grid as much as I can. Bought three 55-gallon barrels to make into rain barrels, going solar power for lights and small electronics, and bought a generator for emergencies. I can’t afford to lose another freezer full of meat and groceries if a hurricane blows through Jackson, MS again the way Katrina did. Bought a small 20 pound wood heater from Sportsman Guide, so I don’t have to burn propane to heat water or keep warm in winter.

    I’m spending now to cut back later the way Noah built his ark before the rains came. Building the small camper in case I have to move around to find work. Rather sleep in my own bed every night than rent an apartment or have room mates to make ends meet. I believe the economic crisis around the world has only started to begin, so I’m prepping.

    Will start dumpster diving more and share what I find, too. Your blog has been that kind of inspiration. The local charity called The Gateway Rescue Mission will take anything if it’s worth having or can sell in their thrift stores around Jackson or Clinton, MS.

    Comment by Charlotte — December 14, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

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