Urbandumpsterdiver's Blog


I’m a middle aged recently married woman for the 2nd time, my husband’s second marriage as well. I love to sew, crochet, play my clarinet, and am an obsessive dumpster diver and prepper. I loathe waste and will recover as much stuff as I can possibly find. What I do isn’t for everyone and I know that. My blog is for those who are interested in diving and who want to save money and the planet from this needless waste in our landfills.

Worked in the corporate sector for 27 years. Was laid off during the economic meltdown which started in late 2007/2008. Could not find a job to save my life. Vacillated between unemployment, minimum wage jobs (which I worked 3 at one time), picking up soda cans to make an extra buck and even eating at soup kitchens when I had no money. When you lose your pride and take the help that is needed, it’s amazing what you find out about yourself.

In the many months I went to a particular soup kitchen, I met many a good person. Having class isn’t about how much money you have. Class is about dignity, integrity and living a truthful life. I met seniors who were barely making it who needed the soup kitchen for a late lunch. I met many a grown man who needed the lunch and extra food they handed out after you ate lunch who needed that extra boost to keep them going. I used to skulk in the place worried about who would see me there. I finally stopped caring after a few days. Hunger overrides pride. In all honesty, the people who worked there were kind and caring. I never felt a hint of arrogance or disdain from any of the staff. I found nothing but kindness and mercy from those people.

While living in California, I lost my first husband, my mom, my dignity and many jobs. After years and years of trying to stay on track, I kept taking 2 steps forward and going 3 steps back. Story of my life. Finally one day I said I can continue to stay here and 20 years down the road by 70 and be broke and alone OR I can venture out of CA, and charter new territory.

So last year I gave notice to my landlord, moved out and packed what I could in my little tiny truck with a camper shell. I sold a lot of my stuff for pennies on the dollar and gave a ton of stuff away. I had some money saved. I planned on driving until I found a place I could feel good about and call home. I knew I wouldn’t be homeless or without money. I knew if I let God take over the steering wheel, I’d be OK. I’d been calling the shots for many years without God and it left me depressed, frustrated and angry. Once I allowed God to steer the car in my life, life opened up like a flower and money and my newly wedded husband came to me. I didn’t have to struggle, fight, argue or have any pain, it just happened.

The power of manifestation worked and it still works for me today.

So if anyone feels the pain of this economy, it’s me. My husband also felt this pain many years ago when he left his home state in order to find a job in the big city. Now he’s been at the same place for many years, but knowing how bad the cities are, we’re preparing to retire in a much more rural part of the world.


  1. UDD,

    Found you over at Moonbattery. Liking your new blog. I have much experience in diving and the excess/wasted food scene. America is the most wasteful society on Earth. Don’t get me wrong, I love America and the opportunities here are second to none. I’m just stating a fact.

    I got started diving when I was in college. If you live near a university or large college, be sure to cruise by the dorm dumpsters a few times and maybe add it to your route. Or, try some diving in the student ghettos that surround schools. At the end of the school year, students throw away tons of great stuff.

    I have tons of tips, but we can discuss them later, if you wish.

    A couple of questions: Do you use a dive stick and/or bag blade? Have you read John Hoffman’s “The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving”?

    I’ve added you to my blog bookmarks; I’ll be back. Feel free to email me any time.

    Last note: I often use that expression about one man’s trash, and I have another I like: One man gathers what another man spills.

    Comment by Henry — September 20, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  2. Henry, Hi there….

    I use a grabber I bought at Home Depot. It’s stainless steel with a grabber at the end ($20) that works great. I also have a fish net (like you’d use for trout fishing) to scoop the little stuff.

    I’ve seen that book, I do plan on buying it from Amazon. I’ve heard mixed reviews about it though.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — September 20, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  3. charles here from oftwominds.com–I hope you haven’t stopped posting here–please keep it going! This is a subject that needs the exposure/info.

    Comment by charles — January 25, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  4. I’m back Charles!

    Comment by UDD — January 26, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  5. This Sunday is Decorative Dumpster Day, a blogging event. We’d love it if you would participate. Here’s a link to more info.


    Comment by Leila Darabi — April 27, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  6. Leila – I just saw your post. My former laptop died and fried. I had to buy a new one so I was offline a while. Please allow me to add your blog to my blogroll.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — May 2, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  7. Of course. Adding you to mine now.

    Comment by Leila Darabi — May 2, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  8. Nice blog here I get almost all of my food this way so I would love to get to know others who is doing it. I don’t live in your part of the world but would you be interested in staying in touch? Please use the email address that I guess that you can see or let me know how I can contact you if you prefer some other messaging system.


    Comment by Glaneur — September 13, 2011 @ 2:17 am

  9. Hi there! Tried to email you but I got a daemon error. I can try again. You can always email me through this blog. I would love to stay in touch with my European ancestors.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — September 14, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  10. Thank you for getting back to me!! How do I email you can’t find the address anywhere? Otherwise I am glaneur at dumpsterdiversparadise.com if you want to use their PM system.

    Comment by Glaneur — September 15, 2011 @ 3:34 am

  11. Oh and I believe that email works now again if you prefer that. I wasn’t getting anything to that address so it seemed a bit odd but now I know thank you for telling me.

    Comment by Glaneur — September 15, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  12. East Coast Diver here! I tried this a few weeks ago on a whim and I must say I am flabbergasted at the waste! Over the weekend I found 14 bags of salad expired the same day! nothing wrong with them perfectly sealed and not brown! 3 dozen cookies nothing wrong with them! I have even found working Keurig coffee makers and have sold one for over $100 on ebay! Just craziness!

    Comment by Peter — November 21, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  13. I’m loving it! It’s terribly addictive isn’t it?

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — November 21, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  14. Oh yes I have been going upwards of three to four times a week now. I can’t wait to go again this Friday night after the black Friday craziness! Can you imagine what these knuckleheads will throw out when they get all those returns! OMG it’s just insane how wasteful we are! but I have to say I like it! πŸ™‚ But seriously, couldn’t we give some of this to a local soup kitchen instead of me finding it in the dumspter? I also got a bag of bagels that were made that morning still fressh in the dumpster yesterday! 61 bagels in all nothing wrong with them at all! My sons freaked out and made a mess of bagel pizzas with them and we had a great time! How’s the diving been for you? If you find any of those Kuerig coffee makers grab em they literally fought over the one I foundjust recently and paid over $100 for it! I was floored. I listed it right before we left to go our diving for the night and by the time we got back three hours later no only did someone buy it for $100 they alreayd paid f or it through paypal! That was a sweet night! πŸ™‚

    Comment by Peter — November 22, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  15. Hi Urban Dumpster Diver,

    I am working on a project and would love to speak to you about it. Is there an email I can reach you at? Thank You

    Comment by lucy — November 23, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  16. Typing on tablet so I’m a little more brief. On the road for today but am looking daily. Your post made me grin from ear to ear.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — November 23, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  17. Cool! I’ll fill you in when we get back Friday night! πŸ™‚

    Comment by Peter — November 23, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  18. Hi Lucy, been on the road a long time visiting family and friends. Email me at this blog and I’ll get back to you.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — December 14, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  19. I’ve only read the first few months of your blogs so far, but I am touched by your generosity. Have you considered compiling some of this and submitting it to magazines to be published? I know its not easy to be published, but this is something a lot of people are wondering about these days and you have a lot of experience and insight to offer. Plus you might earn some extra cash, which is always a bonus πŸ™‚ Good luck!

    Comment by Rachel — December 26, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

  20. Hey there! I keep wanting to try diving but I can never get the night time hours. Do you tend to have much luck at craft stores or do you try? (saw the posts about sewing patterns. Trying to start up a jewelry business to help make ends meet but stuff is so costly!

    Comment by Shaydin Eliot — December 31, 2011 @ 6:03 am

  21. Craft stores are a crap shoot. One day you’ll see tons of stuff and the next day, nothing. If you dive during the day, I’d go early to avoid managers and delivery trucks. I have a bunch of jewelry magazines that I had found at one location. I saw the prices of those magazines and was shocked at the price!

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — December 31, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  22. oh tell me about it..and i’d love to score something like that to expand my skills..any hints on what chains might be better? the one place i tried had a chute to the bin..no way in that i could see.

    Comment by Shaydin Eliot — January 1, 2012 @ 4:47 am

  23. Dumpster diving only works in the larger cities is that right? Not much out there in the small ones..

    Comment by CAROL — January 4, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  24. Not necessarily. I’ve found that in last 18 months that I’ve taken a lot of road trips, I’ve found tons in small towns. It’s really a crap shoot.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — January 4, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  25. In some of your posts, you mention finding pantyhose. Have you ever found a bag full of it? I am looking for lots of panty hose or hosiery in any condition for a crafting project. They do not have to be perfect, so snags or runs are ok.

    Comment by Ann — February 11, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

  26. I usually find containers with a 6 pack of regular pantyhose or knee high hose. Most of your drugstore chains that throw out new stuff usually throw out panty hose. We don’t mention store names on my blog as I don’t want them to start locking their dumpsters.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — February 11, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

  27. Hey UDD,
    I’m a journalist for Xtravaganza, a soon-to-be-launched Magazine based in Berlin, Germany. The magazine is dedicated to publishing challenging opinions and life-styles. I found your story incredibly interesting, and the way you describe dumpster-diving, on one-side dry and methodical, and on the other filled with the joy of the find, delighting. I would love to talk to you about Dumpster-diving, and for you to contribute to our magazine.
    Please contact me at: odedevenor@gmail.com


    Comment by Oded Even Or — August 7, 2012 @ 6:50 am

  28. My name is Samantha and I am the casting producer at a production company in New York. I came across your blog and found it very intriguing. We are looking for people who are very passionate about certain things, and dumpster diving is one of them. We are looking for people who want to tell their story. I would love to discuss dumpster diving with you Please feel free to email at TLCobsessionshow@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Comment by Samantha — September 6, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  29. I will email you privately my contact info!

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — September 7, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

  30. This is my first time visiting this blog. I am a married, late 30s woman living in Texas. Middle class household trying to scrape by on a budget and being hit with things we’re trying to get through – like my husband’s hours being cut down to nothing. I found your site by googling about dumpster diving. I’ve never actually gotten food from a dumpster – but I have “curb shopped” and gotten all sorts of things from neighborhood trash heaps – furniture, clothing, etc. I am very interested in doing more of this for myself and to help others. I am disgusted by the waste and greed in this country, and I have so enjoyed reading your blog. You seem like a wonderful person, and I want you to know that I appreciate your generosity toward others!

    Comment by Pamela — January 3, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  31. My name is RJ Hurdle, reporter with TheStreet.com, and I am doing a story on resourceful ways to generate income, and want to include dumpster diving.

    Please contact me at your earliest convenience via e-mail or cell at 573.999.6831.

    I would only need about 10 minutes of your time, and I can also submit questions via e-mail.

    RJ Hurdle

    Comment by R J Hurdle — March 19, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

  32. Hi, I live in France and doing dumpster diving for a while now…, started to think about writing a blog and show the pictures of all the delicious food we make every week. I tiped ‘dumpster diving blog’ in google and found your site to have some insperation.
    We are a young couple with not so much money but starting it was not because of it. We just happened to find one day a huge dumpster of a bio shop, full of more and less perfect vegetables. There was no question taking all these things. Then, after seeing that we can have all of these things for free of charge, we became addicts somehow. Actually, I am fun of vegetables so to be honest, we only collect from this particular rubbish, other stuff we need like rise, pasta, we still buy in the supermarkets. I have never went to US, so I don’t know how it is there, here in France the rubbish of the big supermarkets are well protected, they even put Javel on it most of the time. We did once this adventure, but didn’t like too much taking this risk. So for the moment we “only” take from this bio shop, going once a week is far too much already for us and 2 other families. For beginners I really suggest these kind of shops, it doesn’t smell any bad, it is only vegetables, and when it is dirty, it is the earth or an other vegetable demaged on it.
    Good luck for everybody!

    Comment by Eszter Szirmai — September 26, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  33. My fine french friend, thank you for stopping by. It’s good to hear from our brothers and sisters across the globe. There is a french documentary I believe it’s called La Glean, you may want to look it up on YouTube. It’s about the gleaners in France that pick up the remaining veggies after the farmers are done. That is where the word gleaning comes from.

    Diving IS addictive. It’s impossible to stop. Once you know the truth and how much food is thrown out, it’s impossible to let the food slide and not take it.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — September 26, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  34. Hi, I love your blog and thought you mightlike my short video on dumpster diving. I’ve made it for a competition and every view gives me a vote, so I’d really appreciate it if you found the time to watch and possibly share it πŸ™‚ Thanks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6djV20NnJ8o&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLYT7vD5He2VAVTw7z78cmU_n3UjTpLzwz

    Comment by Lucia — November 1, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

  35. Love the video. I watched it. Thank you for sharing that with me.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — November 1, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

  36. I recently discovered your blog and enjoy reading about your freegan adventures. I share your humanitarian and environmental concerns. The amount of waste and greed is sickening. Thank you for your insight and sharing.

    Comment by Taylor — December 24, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  37. Hello, I’m currently working on a project about dumpster diving for the Cleveland PBS Station. I would love to know about some of your best finds, why everyone should be a dumpster diver, and how dumpster diving is a lifestyle. Could you email me at Melissa.prax@ideastream.org please? Thank you!

    Comment by Melissa Prax — May 21, 2014 @ 11:59 am

  38. Melissa, thank you for visiting my blog. I no longer give interviews to large publications like yourself. I’m very flattered you want to though. Here’s the thing. I really don’t want this to be on the mainstream or radio news. My concern is that stores will start using compactors or locking their dumpsters after articles like yours would be published.

    Once again, I’m flattered, but I really don’t want to compromise any local dumpster divers in the Cleveland area, as I’m sure they are they out there. I’m in the Appalachian foothills far away from you. Please feel free to have you Cleveland readership read my blog or follow me on twitter.

    Comment by urbandumpsterdiver — May 31, 2014 @ 1:46 am

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