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Confessions of a Dumpster Driver

May 4th, 2007 at 01:48 pm

The following was sent in by Dave, a savingadvice member that doesn't have a blog and didn't want to start one for just one post, but wanted to enter the contest.:

If you have never dumpster dived, then you probably have an image that isn't too positive about this activity. I know, because I once had the same image. I thought that it was for young people with no money and people who couldn't afford to purchase merchandise from a regular retail outlet. Had I known back when I was younger what I know today, I would have started this years ago.

Over the years I have come to realize that there are a large number of positive aspects to dumpster diving that the average person is simply unaware exist. I believe even those than may at first turn their nose up at the thought of dumpster diving should give it a try at least once.

One of the greatest joys I get from dumpster diving is that not only do I find stuff for myself, I can also help out charities at the same time. If I come across something in good condition, but I really don't need it (this happens a lot), I still take it with me. I'll then donate it to my local Goodwill or Salvation Army store.

I would donate the stuff I don't need to charity even if it didn't help me, but one of the the great benefits of donating these finds to charity is the tax deductions I receive for doing so. That means that in addition to helping out charities, I get some tax write-offs on my federal taxes.

Another option that you will realize quite quickly is that many of the things that your find when dumpster diving have value beyond giving to charity. The items with a higher value I sell and make some money. With the Internet and sites like eBay and Craigslist, it makes it quite easy to sell many of the items reclaimed from the dumpster. While I only make a bit this way, I know quite a few people who make a reasonable second income through dumpster diving.

A surprising benefit of dumpster diving is it's a great way to get extra exercise and stay healthy. First and foremost, it gets me up from the couch in front of the TV and out of the house. I get exercise not only picking up the objects that I find, but also climbing in and out of dumpsters. While it's nothing like running a marathon, I think most people would be surprised at the amount of physical stamina it takes and my health has improved from this activity.

One of the more controversial areas of dumpster diving are those who dumpster dive for food. I'll admit this was an area that I was sort of disgusted by when I first heard about it. The fact is that there is a lot of food that is thrown out that is still quality. Grocery stores must throw out food when it reaches its expiration date, but that expiration date assumes that a person purchasing it will keep it in their house for a specific amount of time after that date. That means that if you pick up food from a grocery store that has been thrown out, it's still very likely to be good. I found that once I got over the initial impression of dumpster diving for food, much of the food that is thrown out is prepackaged and individually wrapped so that even though it is found in a trash bin, it is still in perfect shape and perfectly edible. In the end this is something that you have to decide for yourself, but if you do decide that this is an acceptable find, you will get a lot of free food.

One of best parts of dumpster diving is the opportunity to find prizes. That is, a lot of stores give away game pieces to their customers and the game piece may win the customer a prize. The fact is that many people never look at the game pieces and simply throw them away. For example, when McDonald's has the their Monopoly type game where you need to find several pieces to win a prize, there are always an abundant amount of those game pieces to be found in the trash. In addition there are instant win prizes that can be found.

While this may be a surprise to most people, it is also possible to win money from lottery tickets found in a trash. I have no idea why, but people end up throwing away a winning lottery tickets from time to time. While I don't find winning lottery tickets very often, I have found a number of them over the years. These are usually in small amounts with the biggest winning ticket I have found to date being worth $20. Still, it adds some excitement when you are dumpster diving and find a ticket that is worth some money.

One of the things that I really enjoy about dumpster diving is that it is environmentally friendly. All the things that you reclaim from the dumpsters were headed to landfills. By taking them out of the dumpster, you give the items a new life and avoid adding more to landfills.

Another aspect of dumpster diving that surprises most people who first begin is the wide variety of people that you meet while doing this activity. The vast majority of the people you will meet when dumpster diving will be quite friendly and dumpster diving will give you an opportunity to make a lot of new and unique friends.

Dumpster diving will also save you money. Since I find so many different things when dumpster diving, I don't need to purchase any of the items I'm able to find. I figure that I save a couple hundred dollars each month on things I would have had to buy, but I end up finding for free while dumpster diving.

While all the above reason contribute to why I enjoy dumpster diving, the number most enjoyable aspect of dumpster diving for me are the adventures I have and the stories that come from doing this activity. From the people I meet to the different items that I find, there's an adventurous tale to tell almost every time I go out and dumpster diving. These tales make for great conversation and have enticed many others to give dumpster diving a try.

1 Responses to “Confessions of a Dumpster Driver”

  1. Pleasantly Surprised Karen Says:

    I really enjoyed your blog. I wouldn't consider myself a dumpster diver, although, I'm not opposed to it, however, after a recent garage sale I had had I decided to bring a few items over to a local apartment complex and set them next to the dumpster area in a box labeled "free". To my surprise, sitting next to the dumpster was a box full of something I needed! On my list of things to do, (yes, I also have a thing for lists) I had planned to go to Staples and buy several 3 inch 3 ring binders. There was a box of them in perfectly good condition. All I had to do was remove the papers still inside. I figure it probably saved me atleast $10-$20 in binders!

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