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Dumpster diving: an Introduction

By durkie in Culture
Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:38:04 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Dumpster diving, rather than the physical diving implied by its name, is actually more along the lines of fishing - it is as relaxed or competitive as desired, follows many seasonal trends and localizations, is an excellent social activity, and may just leave you with something interesting or tasty. Dumpster diving consists largely of rummaging about through others' trash. It at once allows you to challenge and take advantage of the fact that people as a whole are very, very wasteful. And while poking through your neighbor's trash this very moment would be a perfectly acceptable, if perhaps somewhat awkward, dive, there is a fair amount to know in order to keep the diving experience safe, enjoyable, and fruitful. For many, the thought of going anywhere near a smelly dumpster, let alone touching, wearing, or eating something from inside of it, is revolting. If you find yourself with interests duly piqued and revulsion to a minimum, then read on for a guide to the excellent world of dumpster diving.

I. Basic knowledge/preparations

When diving, the most important thing to have is discretion, both in the sense of being discreet and of using some judgment. As a diver, you are presented with a lot of opportunities to cause injury to yourself. Heeding some of the following suggestions will help you avoid many of them, but again, the final word is your discretion.

As far as physical things you can equip yourself with, the primary tool to have is a light of some sort. The inside of a dumpster is generally very dark, even if you choose to dive in the daytime. And when it comes down to it, dumpsters are used for things people have no use for. This could be expired meat, a router, books, or cat litter. You'll want to know which one you're grabbing. A headlight will keep your hands free to lift or move objects, but a flashlight will certainly do the job. I used a MiniMagLite similar to the one here for the longest time. Only recently have I gone to a headlight, now using the Petzl Zipka.

Decent clothing is a must when diving, as well. Dumpsters often have broken glass, strange chemicals and rust in high quantities. Sturdy shoes and clothes you don't mind getting dirty or torn allow you to take your mind off some of the environmental charms. In addition, some divers choose to use gloves and/or some sort of prodding stick to aid in actual trash handling. Keep in mind the kind of environment you're going to be in. If you're diving construction trash, it's likely there will be a few nails here and there. The local video or grocery store, however, probably won't be throwing out too many dangerous items.

Now that you're ready to dive, you might want to consider taking along a friend with you. Companions are great for several reasons. They have different needs, so you might be able to make more use of the things you find. They also look after you (and vice versa) so as to avoid problems. Plus, friends just make things a lot more enjoyable. Diving can be a very peaceful and exciting experience. Sharing it with your friends is even better. And even if you don't find anything, you still get to walk and talk with your buddies.

An important thing to keep in mind when diving is other people. This means other divers, store managers, passersby, garbagemen, and authority figures. The garbagemen are people whom you probably won't interact with too often, but they are very important, since they regularly remove the garbage. Keeping their schedule in mind will ensure a bountiful dumpster for you.

Keeping the managers, passersby and authority figures in mind will ensure that that bountiful dumpster remains unlocked or doesn't turn in to a compactor. This means you probably want to dive when there aren't so many people around, such as at night after business hours, or early in the morning. The overall idea is to keep confrontation to a minimum, and have whatever confrontation that occurs be a positive and/or respectful one. You aren't out there to cause trouble, or assert some right to access their trash, because the trash is technically their property still. Although you are unlikely to be prosecuted for dumpster diving, the store manager does have the upper hand, and it would be wise to respect that. A good policy is to leave a dumpster cleaner than you found it. This is respectful both to the store managers and to other divers.

I personally have had very few problems with people. Often you hear of divers having very positive relationships with policemen as the result of occasionally finding post-robbery purses discarded in dumpsters. As well, they are witness to a lot of suspicious activity, since they are out at very early or late hours in a low-lit alleyway. YMMV.

Above I referenced locked dumpsters and compactors. These are amongst various deterrents to divers. Other popular ones are razorwire/barbed wire fences around a dumpster, surveillance cameras, or bleach put in to discarded food products (something I find rather offensive). These measures generally come about when the divers in the area are seen as a problem, or when a store throws out valuable equipment, such as an electronics store. The presence of these varies by region, as compactors are almost only at grocery stores and electronics stores in Atlanta, whereas in Worcester, almost every single dumpster is locked. Your reaction to these deterrents is, again, at your discretion. You will have to assess your safety and the situation for yourself. But keep in mind that these are all in place as a sign that divers are not welcome. Think twice about anything you do to circumvent these measures, and think thrice before climbing inside of a compactor. They can crush you very easily.

II. Types of trash

The seasoned diver will find his head turning at a pile of trash on the side of the road much as if it were a pretty woman or a nice car. Residential trash is among the most varied, and often pretty useful too. Furniture, appliances, lamps, books, clothing are all common items. Of course, people don't tend to buy good things just to throw them out again, so it's typical that these items are not functioning to their fullest potential. This often either does not matter, or can be fixed with some creativity or a soldering iron in a few minutes. The other interesting part of residential trash is the weird stuff that people have in their closets that they finally decided to throw out. Among other things, I recall once finding an artificial scrotum with cancerated testicles inside, used to illustrate what testicular cancer feels like. It feels lumpy.

Food trash is such an excellent and plentiful source of dumpster diving glee that it is worthy of its own category. However, eating something from a dumpster is not something many would readily take part in, and the obvious reason behind this is that there is a lot of really gross food out there. You're not homeless. You're not out there to settle and take what you can get. If you have doubts about it, then don't take it. It's already trash anyways. The saying is: "use some sense, and use your senses." If it smells a little funky or has just a little too much squish to it, then let it be. With that out of the way though, there is still an abundance of food which can be consumed safely.

In the previous paragraph on diving deterrents, I mentioned razorwire fencing. In fact, the only dumpster I know of with razorwire around it is the dumpster behind the local Krispy Kreme doughnutery. And yes, razorwire is the same thing used to keep prisoners from escaping. That is how plentiful the doughnuts are. Places like Krispy Kreme and bakeries are such easy targets because an essential quality of the storebought baked good is freshness and hotness. Thus, day-old baked goods are trashed or given to homeless shelters. We have the option to stock up once a week from our local bakery, but often we have so many bagels, baguettes, focaccia, cinnamon buns, coffee rolls, and bread loaves from previous dives that it isn't necessary to stock up but once a month or every three weeks. Grocery stores which don't employ the use of compactors also sometimes have a selection of fruits or vegetables. You can usually find some good candy behind drug stores, frequently in large quantities. About the worst place to dive for food is an actual restaurant. There is really very little there except lettuce scraps, a really bad smell, and strange liquids.

The final trash type is that of offices and normal businesses. This is as varied as the residential, but doesn't tend to be as consistent, since businesses have significantly more papering and such to throw away. However, just because a business makes a certain product doesn't guarantee that you'll find that product in the dumpster. After a while you learn which businesses throw out what. I have a steady supply of zipties and cat 5 ethernet cable from the local satellite installation place. I use the zipties, and Georgia Tech students seem more than willing to buy the spools for $35 (or about 10-12c/foot). A gold bracelet, 16x2 character LCD screens, credit card numbers, recorded phone interviews, a gas station (there are gas pumps, signs, and gas flow computers sitting out behind a local business park) - these are all items I have found. I have not made use or recorded any of the credit card numbers, but it goes to show just what a range there is. I obviously tended towards more computer-type businesses, but just about every business has its own outside, accessible dumpster. There's bound to be something to please. About the only place I can think of where there is not bound to be something to please is at a hospital. I highly recommend that you never dive at a hospital.

III. Seasonal considerations

The most obvious of the seasonal considerations is the weather. Diving after it has rained is not pleasant and will totally soak anything in an open-top dumpster. The other seasonal aspects are with regard to the diving season - when things tend to be thrown out in high quantity. The end of the month is big for apartment moveouts and evictions. Mid-December and, more importantly, mid-May are fantastic dates to score some couches, TVs, computers, clothing, and food from the local college's residence halls, with many students moving out and few with the desire to fly back home with all of their acquireds. Another excellent thing to pay attention to is major holidays. Last year we found 93 lbs of chocolate on a post-Easter dive, thrown out on the basis that Easter was over.

The less predictable seasonal elements are people/businesses moving locations, or stores going out of business. There is also the technological element, such as when the video stores made room for DVDs by throwing out many, many VHS videos and video games. There's not a really good way to tell when these are coming about aside from looking at other signs, such as the prevalence of DVDs in our society, or perhaps the physical signs that say "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS."

IV. Conclusion

That should have you well on your way to diving like a pro. But, if you should desire a bit more instruction or advice, or are just looking for other divers, alt.dumpster is full of nice people to chat or trade with. Please be aware that when discussing diving on the internet, it is common practice to obfuscate business names, as this tends to increase the longevity of diving hotspots. A place like "Kinko's" might become "Stinko's," or "that copy place with two Ks." Also be aware that some take diving very seriously and are not completely open to sharing their diving spots with just anyone. No worries though, there's enough trash to go around.


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What's the most valuable thing you've ever recovered from a dumpster?
o I've never dived 54%
o < 5 (dollars or pounds) worth 3%
o Between 5 - 20 worth 9%
o Between 20 - 50 worth 5%
o Between 50 - 100 worth 6%
o > 100 worth 19%

Votes: 144
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o here
o Petzl Zipka
o alt.dumpst er
o Also by durkie

Display: Sort:
Dumpster diving: an Introduction | 109 comments (105 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Depends where you are (4.50 / 4) (#1)
by s alpha on Wed Jan 29, 2003 at 10:22:11 PM EST

In my neighbourhood (downtown Vancouver, which I just finished bitching about elsewhere) dumpster diving seems fiercely competitive. Often on trips through the park on the way to the bus stop, you can hear divers complaining as if they were fighting a cartel, about how any dumpster that’s not locked down is already picked over if not presently occupied. Tough times.

Diving rocks (4.66 / 3) (#6)
by coderlemming on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:42:35 AM EST

I used to be a seasoned diver back in the day.  Now I live in the aforementioned worcester, and man are you right.

First things first, you don't stress this enough.  There are two taboos in dumpster diving, hospitals, and compactors.  NEVER DUMPSTER DIVE IN A COMPACTOR!! It's just not worth it.  If you can't reach it from outside, just move on.

I used to scope out a regular round of business dumpsters... never found much in those, but I did find something nice at our local clubhouse for the subdivision.  It was a nice selection of computer books, completely pristine condition.  Another time, I found about 20 tennis balls, still sealed in their containers.  I still have them.  I've found a few more useful nicknacks, along with some food.  

About the food thing: it's not as disgusting as it sounds.  You don't pull food from a dumpster (unless it's, like, a bag of bagels).  Usually it's more like a rack of just-expired bread that's not bad at all, or (like my ex and I found once), TONS of delicious cookies.  Then there was the Penthouse I found, that was cool.

Dumpster diving rocks.  Spread the word.  It's got this nice naughty quality to it, and it occasionally has great rewards.  Plus, the people on alt.dumpster are fun to talk to.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)

stupid me (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by coderlemming on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:43:48 AM EST

Sigh.  Should have been a topical... Guess no one will see it when this goes FP :)

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]
You're in luck (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by rusty on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:29:16 AM EST

Admins can toggle comment type from editorial to topical and back now. Sweet. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
author should be able to toggle.. (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by molo on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 11:46:37 AM EST


Just thinking out loud here.. why are admins able to toggle editorial/topical but original authors are not?  I mean, I don't see the harm in allowing people to change after the fact.  Just my $0.02.


Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn
[ Parent ]

I got a lovely DLT changer... (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by gordonjcp on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 07:47:31 AM EST

... and a couple of 8-port 10/100 hubs once. Miles of cable, too.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
I once got (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by CodeWright on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:25:15 AM EST

3 Zenith PC/XTs, 2 Apple IIs, 4 VT100 terminals, 2 VT100 audio-couple modems, and a VAX10 from a dumpster (all functional and from a college).

Another time, I got 10 (functional) 10/100 Ethernet cards (from a megacorp).

Never gone diving for food though (blech).

"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Food?? (4.33 / 3) (#8)
by metalfan on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:55:44 AM EST

Do you really eat food from dumpsters?

Even if it is wrapped, how do you know it hasn't been slopping around with any number of the nasty things found in dumpsters?

depends on the food (5.00 / 4) (#10)
by durkie on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:04:07 AM EST

when we found all the easter candy, a lot of it was still in good wrapping, so even if it had been in dumpster juice, the wrapping would've still protected it. also, a lot of this candy was on top of other candy, so we just didn't get the gross stuff on the bottom layer.

when we get bread from the bakery, a lot of it is still warm, because it goes straight from the store to a trashbag. in fact, i think the only reason they throw it out the one day they do is because there's no one to collect it from the homeless shelter that day. so i imagine it's the same bagging procedure, except it goes to the dumpster instead of homeless people

it's just a lot of the stuff is protected by bags and such...i don't think i would eat a donut found on the bare floor of a dumpster, or at least not the bottom half of it. heh.

and i guess i don't know that it hasn't been slopping around, but i figure that people don't come by and churn the dumpster contents for the sake of mixing all the nasty stuff together. :)

[ Parent ]

Dumpster Juice questions (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Steve Ballmer on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:56:56 AM EST

What is the nutritional value of Dumpster Juice? What does it taste like? Can it be fermented to make an alcoholic beverage? Do you think there is profit potential in bottling and selling Dumpster Juice?

[ Parent ]
Dumpster juice (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:15:54 PM EST

It's great if you chase it down with fresh glass of bongwater.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
I have (none / 0) (#20)
by Stick on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 04:12:12 AM EST

Chocolate bars and stuff like that. I made a fortune as a child dumpster diving.

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
use ur brain on that one (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by squidinkcalligraphy on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:16:18 PM EST

Once we found four cartons (each containing 20-odd packets) of chocolate biscuits, not even past their expiry date. Another time there was about 10-20kg of strawberries on the very top of the dumpster. We took them home, washed the well, had a feast, and made half a year's worth of strawberry jam. U smell the food, feel the food, and if it passes those test, taste it. Even if it's a bit off, if ur immune system is up to scratch, u'll b OK.
An identity card is better that no identity at all
[ Parent ]
this just happened to me... (none / 0) (#89)
by YelM3 on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 01:41:14 AM EST

I live in a very, ahem, liberal college town in California (go Banana Slugs!) and last week I was at an Intro to Marxism discussion section held at a student's house. It was a potluck kind of thing, and when the hostess announced that the brown rice and tofu everyone was eating was 'dumpstered' from the local health food store, half the class applauded.

[ Parent ]
A few dumpster diving links. (5.00 / 5) (#9)
by John Milton on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:03:47 AM EST

Since this article is probably going to be voted up soon, I'm reposting these links as topical.

Art and Science of Dumpster Diving by John Hoffman

Dumpster Diving: The Advanced Course : How to Turn Other People's Trash into Money, Publicity, and Power by John Hoffman

2600 Dumpster Diving article

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

+1 FP Laugh-out-loud (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by coljac on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:26:59 AM EST


Your serious, helpful tone combined with the subject matter gave me a good laugh. Thanks a lot!

I did feel a bit let down at the end. I felt that I had learned the basic theory, but I wanted some "meat" (no, not a can of expired ham). Do you have any more stories to share? Ever find crime evidence? What's the most disgusting thing you've found? (A guess: used condom. Ewwwwwww!) Ever been chased from a dumpster? Ever fought with another diver over a piece of treasure?

Thanks again for the article. Good ol' k5 does it again.

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

some things (4.70 / 10) (#14)
by durkie on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:09:56 AM EST

you just find a lot of weird stuff and act accordingly. the easter candy night was pretty weird. we spent literally 6 hours looking for easter candy, and we finally came to a drug store at 1 in the morning that had just loads of it! this resulted in many joyous squeals. the door to the dumpster, however, was heavy as shit. so we remembered that we once found a child's bike frame in a toy store dumpster and had hid it in the woods for later retrieval. we could use that to prop open the door. so we parked in a kroger parking lot and went to look for it, but it was gone. however, when we returned, a tire on the car was flat. we were just there changing it in this parking lot and happend to notice there was a guy sitting in his car opposite of us, smoking a cigarette, staring at kroger at 1:30 in the morning. he was there before we were there, and after we left, a good 45 minutes.

we got back to the candy and one of us crawled in and threw candy out to the person on the outside with the box. the box filled up and the person ran back to the car to dump it. this took approximately 2 hours.

we were driving back in this big white minivan with a donut tire doing literally 15 miles an hour down the road, hazards blinking, and we've got a good line of traffic forming behind us, even at 4 in the morning. we get to the stoplight and the car behind us hits us! i wasn't pissed off, but i was just confused, like "what the fuck? how did you not see a big, white, slow-moving, hazard flashing, vehicle doing 15 miles an hour?" they said their apologies and drove off to a tinted window bar called strokers.
it was just a night of odd circumstance.

we once found a really nice fake tree. we planted it in a friend's yard while he slept.

a lot of boxes of canadian-brand oreos were once found...cosmic blasters or some such. they were like oreos, but with pop rocks. we also found huge boxes filled with bags of potato chips. we walked around downtown atlanta handing them out to homeless people. they were really thankful and talked about how they never got any sugar, man.

we found a plastic shell of a bathtub once and it actually functioned as a boat! it was really twitchy, but the dream to float down a river in a bathtub could finally be realized.

we found some HUGE tractor tires at a business park. like so huge you could fit inside of it and have the bead wrap around you and protect you. this thing was LOADS of fun....there was a mudpit at a local construction site with a hill in front of it that was perfect for rolling.

we found a pretty sweet betamax player with like 80 tapes (including a playboy one...roar).

i have never actually found a used condom, but kitty litter, rotten meat, hair and other assorted organics combine to make a pretty nasty combination.

i've never come face to face with other divers in the area, so no competition or challenging there.

the one time i can recall being chased from a dumpster would be at a local doughnut shop:

Security Guard: What are you doing around here?

Us: We're looking for donuts in the dumpster.

<literal 10 second silence of us staring at him>

Security Guard: You can't do that.

that's all i can think of for now. i'll post more if i think of some.

[ Parent ]

Organics... (none / 0) (#50)
by unDees on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:58:22 PM EST

i have never actually found a used condom, but kitty litter, rotten meat, hair and other assorted organics combine to make a pretty nasty combination.

Sounds like what was clogging the drainpipe to my washing machine, before it was scraped out to the tune of $75/hour.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]
Regarding dangerous items (4.66 / 6) (#13)
by br14n on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:54:32 AM EST

I don't really want to go into the specifics of how I developed an embarassing amount of experience in rummaging through filthy garbage, but I just wanted to point out that some truly dangerous stuff can be in trash. My favorite: syringes. Stromberg-Carlson DCO command references or whatever might be hard to come by, but they aren't worth dying over.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek! (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by IslandApe on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:43:01 AM EST

OK, that killed any idea I had of doing this for a laugh.

BTW, anyone know the legality of this in the UK?

O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion;
[ Parent ]

Well, no specifics. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by haflinger on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:33:04 AM EST

But under common law, dumpster diving is legal everywhere in the Anglo-American world. Garbage has been abandoned, it's not anyone's property.

The exception to this would be if you have to trespass to get at the garbage. But rooting through garbage bins is a time-honoured journalistic practice.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

I can't believe this got voted up (1.07 / 13) (#15)
by FuriousXGeorge on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:10:14 AM EST



why not? (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by durkie on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:14:13 AM EST

why not?

[ Parent ]
Florists - valentines day is coming (4.66 / 3) (#16)
by victim on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:10:24 AM EST

I should mention that Valentines day is coming and any reasonably sized city is going to have a florist wholesaler. You won't find that single perfect blossom there, but 8 bushels of slightly wilted roses makes a statement too.

Calvin & Hobbes reminiscence (5.00 / 3) (#21)
by Conspir8or on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 07:03:24 AM EST

This reminds me of one of the earlier C&H strips, in which Calvin visits a florist to get flowers for Susie Derkins. When asked if he wants anything specific, he answers something like, "Not really. Do you have a Dumpster in back that I could sort of root through?" So if you run into Calvin on one of your expeditions, say hi for me!

[ Parent ]
Wilted dumpster roses do indeed make a statement (5.00 / 7) (#27)
by Bill Melater on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:57:15 AM EST

If given to my wife, the statement would be: "Never have sex with me ever again".

[ Parent ]
Dude. (none / 0) (#51)
by tkatchev on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:09:13 PM EST

Get yourself a prostitute and save some money.

You won't even need to buy flowers ever again, imagine that.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

get a prostitue and *save* money? (5.00 / 4) (#52)
by anagram on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:54:32 PM EST

you have no idea how much it costs to pay someone to shit on your chest, do you? The things I have to go through to be aroused....

[ Parent ]
Cleveland Steamer?! (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by Lenny on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 03:22:50 PM EST

Yeah baby, Yeah!

"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
[ Parent ]
Some things are timeless (none / 0) (#105)
by Bill Melater on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 11:07:26 PM EST

You posted this over two months ago and I still laugh about it. You mind if I use this as a sig?

[ Parent ]
Houseplants! (none / 0) (#58)
by scruffyMark on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 04:33:09 PM EST

Lots of florists will throw out potted flowering perennial plants as soon as the blooms start to wilt on them. Rescue those, and you have plants that will last a good long time. Wait till next summer, and a whole new lot of flowers will grow.

The other day on the way to work, I saw a garbage truck going by that looked like it was being driven by a tropical plant. I guess the driver had rescued a plant and put it beside him on the seat. The thing must have a good four feet high, and was so bushy it hid the driver completely from the side.

[ Parent ]

So Disappointed (2.33 / 6) (#18)
by Hast on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 02:45:15 AM EST

I thought the article was entitled 'Dumpster Driving'. I believe this was a deliberate ploy in order to get the k5 community to vote your story up. You shoulod be ashamed.

Legality (4.83 / 6) (#24)
by Cameleon on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:25:29 AM EST

You aren't out there to cause trouble, or assert some right to access their trash, because the trash is technically their property still. Although you are unlikely to be prosecuted for dumpster diving, the store manager does have the upper hand, and it would be wise to respect that.

I wouldn't be so sure about trash still being their property. I found this article in a metafilter thread a while ago. It talks about how Portland police officers took someones garbage without a warrant or permission, and used it as evidence. A crew of journalists from a local paper then took the task upon themselves to do the same to the prominent Portlanders (the police chief, the mayor and the district attorney) who spoke out in favour of this police policy. They published the results. Read the article; it's hilarious to read how they go from supporting this behaviour to threatening to sue.

Back to legality: according to this ruling, it seems that going through someone's trash is legal in the US (please correct me if I read that the wrong way, I don't really speak legalese). In the metafilter thread, someone mentioned that the same goes for Canada.

Though you are probably right, even though it is legal, that you are better off not angering the managers and other authority figures.

Re: Legality (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by thecabinet on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:26:36 AM EST

While it is legal to go through people's trash, it is not legal to trespass to do so.  Only curbside trash can safely be rifled through, as you can (in theory) be on public property (the shoulder) while doing so.  What you're doing is certainly illegal, trespassing at a minimum; it's just a question of whether whoever catches you will care.

[ Parent ]
Unlocked dumpsters. (none / 0) (#33)
by haflinger on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:36:38 AM EST

An argument could be made that an unlocked dumpster in a parking lot or other public place is a public area as well.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Parking lot != public place. (none / 0) (#47)
by FieryTaco on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:08:28 PM EST

A parking lot isn't necessarily "public" (for some values of public.) A business provides a parking lot for the conveinience of it's customers and during regular business hours one can reasonably use that parking lot for the purpose of "storing" your vehicle while you are at the business. However you can't put up a tent, have a picnic, lay out to get a tan, hold an impromptu virgin sacrafice, etc. The referenced legal case specifically stated that putting your garbage on the curb-side gives up an expectation of privacy. Having your dumpster in it's normal location, beside/behind your business is not the same as putting it out on the curb. Additionally, since most locales do not provide municipal curb-side pickup of dumpsters, one can see that there is never a time when you can categorize the contents of a businesses dumpster as publicly accessable (short of following the garbage truck back to the waste yard, and even then you may be on private property.)

[ Parent ]
Well, it depends. (none / 0) (#57)
by haflinger on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 04:29:59 PM EST

Sure, it's not the same as putting it out on to the curb. But it'd be up to a judge to rule whether or not you'd given up an expectation of privacy. I'm not aware of any cases on point. Do you know of any?

It'd be a fascinating case to argue, either way. But I digress. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

that's how i heard it (none / 0) (#49)
by durkie on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:53:42 PM EST

While it is legal to go through people's trash, it is not legal to trespass to do so. Only curbside trash can safely be rifled through, as you can (in theory) be on public property (the shoulder) while doing so.

Would rifling through curbside trash stored in a trashcan be legal? My understanding was that the only distinction between curbside trash and dumpster trash was that most companies either own or rent the dumpster, so their trashcan is their property, and the act of going in the dumpster itself was the trespassing part. Of course, most curbside piles are just out in the open, but I wounder if things would be different if they were stored in a trashcan.

[ Parent ]

Ownership (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by substrate on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 10:35:04 AM EST

The company I upgraded all of our computer equipment and in the process got rid of every trace of our competitors equipment except for in critical areas. It was all tossed into dumpsters but not explicitly destroyed. There were reasonably recent unix workstations, tape drives, 19 and 21 inch colour monitors, manuals etc. Some employees scavenged through it for some gear, management fired out a company wide memo the next day warning us that the trash was indeed owned by somebody. It was sold at a price per pound to another firm (I believe to have any metals extracted from it). They were pretty clear that legal action would follow any future dumpster diving as well as possible termination.

So, even though it was trash it was somebody elses possession. We weren't trespassing since we were no matter than 10 yards from the companies basketball hoops.

[ Parent ]

Where? (none / 0) (#39)
by Cameleon on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 11:01:24 AM EST

Where were the dumpsters? Were they still on the company's grounds?

[ Parent ]
Just because they told you that (none / 0) (#43)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:24:36 PM EST

Doesn't mean it's necessarily true.  They could have either incorrectly believed it to be true, or simply claimed it to be true as a deterrent.

Of course the firing could happen anyway, legal or not.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]

trespassing.. (none / 0) (#60)
by Suppafly on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 05:29:15 PM EST

Generally to dumpster dive, you have to trespass on to the property containing the garbage. If its out on the corner in front of someones house, it is generally on the small strip of yard reserved for public use, but if it is behind a building in a privately owned dumpster, you are generally trespassing.
Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
list of stuff in current apt from curbs/dumpsters (4.60 / 5) (#25)
by perdida on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:26:42 AM EST

40 inch projection tv with slight QVC channel burn and slight electrical problem

PowerMac with keyboard, mouse, monitor, ZIP drive, software, licenses, and manuals, equipped for some deaf kid at CWRU who obviously threw it out and got a fancier one

Complete hardwood futon with 2 mattresses

1920s porcelain topped art deco table with matching chairs

Off-brand La-Z-Boy

Wooden chairs, including rocking chair

Beautiful wooden child's desk that's now computer desk

Gorgeous cabinets, one of which is black lacquer with gold paint, the other of which is wood with brass handles

two brass lamps

a standing floor lamp (cheesy one from Pier 1 or something

The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee

I can't wait for warmer weather (4.00 / 4) (#28)
by georgeha on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 08:58:46 AM EST

so I feel inclined to stalk the nieghborhood on garbage night. I've never dumpster dived, but I have found lots of neat stuff on garbage night, including:

  • An erotic cookbook, full of recipes for allegedly aphrodisical foods.
  • A few Lovecraft hardcovers.
  • A USB Zip drive that I have yet to test to see if it works.
  • A small table for the bathroom with a mermaid painted on it.
  • Insects encased in lucite.
  • Beer mugs we still use.
  • Size 33 Wrangler Jeans with the tags still on.

I read that Japan has a huge garbage recycling culture, in that people will put out a 2 year old stereo system (or VCR, etc) that still works, but they have upgraded and can no longer use it. I don't know if that's true.

Re: I can't wait for warmer weather (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by FreddytheFish on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:06:21 PM EST

In fact Japan does have a large recycling culture. It is considered bad etiquette to give someone a used household item (much like North America). While there are second hand stores that will accept used items and resell them, a common way to get rid of them is to place them out on the sidewalk for the trash collectors.

In many guide books for foreigners living in Japan you will find them recommending sidewalk scavenging as a way to furnish your living quarters. Be warned though, I've heard tales of little old Japanese grannies getting very competitive for the choice items.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. --J. W. von Goethe
[ Parent ]

stereo example, and clutter (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by drivers on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:07:57 PM EST

I read that Japan has a huge garbage recycling culture, in that people will put out a 2 year old stereo system (or VCR, etc) that still works, but they have upgraded and can no longer use it. I don't know if that's true.

I have a good called "Clutter's Last Stand" that tells its readers how to go about eliminating their clutter. A large amount of the book is about different kinds of clutter and the attitudes to change to get rid of it. One type of clutter is the kind where you upgrade/replace an item, but you keep the old one for some reason. Obviously, if you replaced or upgraded it the old one was not good enough for you. You considered it unreliable, obsolete, outdated, mostly worn out or just inferior in general. So get rid of it!

People keep so much stuff around they don't need, so they move into bigger houses or rent storage space just to keep the junk they don't really need. Clutter saps your money, time, and energy. While it's sitting there being unused, it decays and degrades.

[ Parent ]

I hear that... (4.25 / 4) (#55)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 04:16:23 PM EST

I have one entire bookshelf dedicated to the storage of my reduce-your-clutter books that didn't work out.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
uh yeah... (none / 0) (#62)
by drivers on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 06:18:45 PM EST

True, I do have too many books. I only have this one book about clutter though. BTW, I hate you.

[ Parent ]
Advanced Dumpster Diving (5.00 / 17) (#29)
by n8f8 on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:07:55 AM EST

I worked as a Plant Operator at Hampton-NASA Steamplant in Virginia for a couple of years. Essentially we burned large quantities of trash to generate steam that was sent to NASA Langley Research for heating.

The guy who ran the overhead crane that would pick up the trash and dump in in the furnace could spot a porn mag from 100 feet and pick it out with the huge crane with expert precision.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

Damn! (5.00 / 4) (#36)
by miah on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 10:29:05 AM EST

It always amazes me what ordinary human beings can do in extreme circumstances, just incredible. ;)

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
[ Parent ]
Techno Spooks (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by Rand Race on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:11:56 AM EST

I used to occasionally dive at a dumpster behind a local company that makes neural nets (for military applications among others). I'm pretty sure they had another method of getting rid of anything sensitive since I never found anything capable of holding software, just monitors, cable, furniture, office trash and the like. Even so, there was once a couple of guys in the dumpster that did not look like typical dumpster divers and who gave me a cold stare as I slowly drove by. I've heard of industrial espionage types dumpster diving, so I gave these guys a wide berth and came back the next night... they weren't after half-busted monitors and cat cable that's for sure.

Ah the memories... for some reason Goodwill always had the best trash.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Goodwill trash (none / 0) (#74)
by Perianwyr on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 01:05:33 PM EST

The thrift stores in my area are *very* hard on trash reclaiming (some employing Krispy Kreme-style measures.) The reason for this is that employees will, if not stopped, place the good stuff that gets donated in the trash bin and grab it before they leave work. Therefore, both trash disposal and trash storage are given great attention by management.

[ Parent ]
Harsh (none / 0) (#90)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 01:20:59 PM EST

Your government spends a few million training you to be a top of the line bad-ass, and somehow you end up having to sort through somebody's styrophome S's and empty coffee cups looking for broken super-widgets.

There's no life like it, eh? And all before 6 A.M., too!

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

In Germany.... (5.00 / 5) (#34)
by hughk on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 10:00:33 AM EST

There are particular days when domestic households and small businesses put 'special' trash (sondermuhle) out on the side of the road for collection. This stuff isn't small and can be anything from old computers up to beds or sofas.

Once the stuff is on the street, anyone is welcome to recycle it before the garbage truck comes for it. Many households have started with items of furniture found there. When they are rich enough to buy their own stuff, items can be recycled again.

Oh yeah (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by farmgeek on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 10:39:57 AM EST

I remember loading a couch on top of a 79 VW Polo (cost me $300 and ran like a top, ugly as hell though), and then coming back for the almost matching arm chair.

We used to stay out 'til 6am on recycling day, looking for useful furniture to adorn our barracks with.

I actually shipped that sofa back to the states and then back to Germany when I was stationed there again.

Sold it for $30 when I got married, since my wife refused to let it in the living room.

[ Parent ]

Useful stuff too. (none / 0) (#56)
by scruffyMark on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 04:24:52 PM EST

I lived at a campground in Munich for a couple of months one summer on a work exchange (nowhere else to stay, housing crisis and whatnot). We got our pots and pans, including a decent pressure cooker, and some patio chairs for the front of our tent that way. Saw lots of good home furniture that would have been useful had we had more than a tent about 7' x 7' x 5' high at the middle to put it in too.

[ Parent ]
San Francisco, too (4.00 / 4) (#65)
by Mohammed Niyal Sayeed on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 07:54:14 PM EST

I lived in the Upper Haight, and putting your refuse out on the sidewalk/street was standard procedure for things you thought anyone else might have any interest in. I got all sorts of nifty computers and computer parts that way; you'd be amazed how many people leave un-wiped hard drives in functioning machines when they finally get their new computer. Then again, I was always amazed (negatively) that homeless residents of said neighborhood often left their feces as a gift on the same sidewalks. I'm easily amazed, I guess.

Speaking of which, when I moved away from there, I left about 10 computers (old Sun hardware, old SGI hardware, etc.) out on the street, and while still packing inside, watched as a couple of homeless guys pulled a shopping cart up and carted off everything they could. I realize they most likely turned the stuff into scrap, but part of me wants to believe that somewhere in Golden Gate Park there is a hidden cluster being built with the sole purposes of calculating Phase Two; what to do with all the underwear they've stolen in order to turn it into profit.

"You need to get your own point, then we can have an elaborate dance fight." - jmzero

[ Parent ]
Re: In Germany.... (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by kliklik on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 07:26:01 AM EST

I've found my HP LaserJet 5p two years ago on the streets of Düsseldorf and it went out of toner last month :) And last week I've found a perfectly good VCR and a Pioneer CD Player. I love Spermüll days. Does anyone know if there are any laws against dumpster diving in Germany?

[ Parent ]
Shredder (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by El Volio on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 10:03:14 AM EST

This, of course, reminds me why I insisted that we buy a shredder for the office...

I had a king-size bed headboard that I used as a bookcase running down the side of my twin-size bed when I was a teenager and later as a college student. Came from the monthly large trash pickup from some neighbors. Alas, married life came and the bookcase is no more.

Neil Stephenson (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by bukvich on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 11:53:17 AM EST

wrote an article in Wired a couple years ago which was excellent. It was online for awhile but the last time I googled it was gone. He had a friend who was doing it for a living in the middle of winter in Toronto or some such place, as I recall.

sure it was Stephenson? (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by tin on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:11:43 PM EST

Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing wrote an article for Wired in Sep 1997 about diving during winter with a friend who lived in Toronto. -justin

[ Parent ]
thank you sir! (none / 0) (#76)
by bukvich on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 02:47:29 PM EST

yes that is the one I was thinking of. Easy to cross fuxor those old memory wirings.

[ Parent ]
Where? Where? (none / 0) (#83)
by carlos HRE on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:57:28 PM EST

Me being in the middle of Toronto... in the middle of winter... and the econimic climate being as it is, spill the beans!

We live in tough times.

Carlos VI, HRE.

"[Nethack has] the replayability of a Denise Richards look-alike sex drone." -- MotorMachineMercenary

[ Parent ]

campuses. (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by joshsisk on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 12:49:14 PM EST

Campuses are best, right after dorm-move-out day. When I was in college, we used to make sure to hit all the dumpsters near dorms around that time. We found a fully-functioning Aiwa stereo with CD changer and everything once... Some kid was too lazy to mail it home, I guess.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
a shame (none / 0) (#48)
by durkie on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 01:37:05 PM EST

last year at Georgia Tech moveout they brought out something like 35 opentop dumpsters for your disposing convenience. around 75% of the trash in those dumpsters was couches, TVs and uneaten bulk food sent from worried mothers to their kids. and then the next day it rained.

[ Parent ]
Another important tip (4.85 / 14) (#53)
by bugmaster on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 03:10:11 PM EST

Don't fire your blaster while inside the compactor. The walls are magnetically shielded, and your shots would just ricochet around. Instead, pick out a long metal rod of some kind and wait for the compactor to start compacting. Then, jam it with the rod, and climb out.

Be warned: if too many people are dumpster diving, the Imperial Guard will take note, and increase security on the dumpsters, by supplying them with razor wire, stormtrooper guards, and weird tentacle monsters made of rubber foam (apparently). Use discretion.

long metal rod doesn't work (4.66 / 3) (#71)
by aonifer on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 12:08:05 AM EST

The long metal rod just sort of bends and breaks.  Best to get your gay robot to verbally abuse his trashcan robot friend into turning off the compactor.

And don't bring your whiny-ass bitch of a girlfriend along.

[ Parent ]

dont try to rip off a business.. (3.50 / 2) (#59)
by Suppafly on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 05:23:23 PM EST

One thing to remember when stealing trash is to never try and rip off a business by trying to return something for $ that they threw out. That is shady and it makes everyone look bad. The place where I work makes us cut everything up or spray paint it bright pink so that we recognize it when the divers try to say they bought something that didnt work and want cash back.
Playstation Sucks.
Locked dumpsters (5.00 / 3) (#61)
by aldjiblah on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 05:41:21 PM EST

The main reason to lock dumpsters is that an unlocked trash recepticle tends to attract people who themselves have stuff to get rid of. I'm certain that if you approach the owner and convince him you're actually *relieving* him of junk, he'll often lend you the key.

Word (5.00 / 3) (#66)
by John Milton on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:01:21 PM EST

I used to work at a garden center. We had this problem a couple of times. It's amazing that people are dumb enough to dump their trash in your dumpster without shredding bank statements and other private documents. It's also amazing how many times they claim that it must have been a friend who did it. You should see how fast they'll come down there to pick up their trash when you call them at home and discuss their bad credit history and their taste in movies.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
Lars Eighner (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by snowlion on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 06:23:12 PM EST

Discussion incomplete w/o reference to Lars Eighner, who wrote famous article on dumpster diving, "My Daily Dives in the Dumpster", as part of Travels with Lizabeth, one of the best books on homelessness you will ever read.
Map Your Thoughts
Not diving, but close (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by kphrak on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 07:11:06 PM EST

Some private colleges (a college in Illinois that follows MIT's naming scheme..hehehe) throw all the junk from their IT department in a basement, which then gets picked up by garbage collecters/donation dudes/etc. But not if students get to it first. The one I was in would dump every week...so every week you could see geeks in there, fighting and scrapping over parts (OK, I'm exaggerating a bit, but everyone wanted to get there before the other guy). It was easy pickings compared to dumpsters (although not as thrilling) -- no rain that could hose electronics, little competition, and no Eau d'Garbage Can.

Among other things, I scored a color inkjet printer, one of those TV carts they use to haul TV/VCR combos in school around, and a sweet little Wyse Terminal that just needed a keyboard cord (which is telephone receiver cable). Then I came back to Oregon and started going to PSU, and that was the end of the easy pickings. They put all their gear in crates, which get transported to some warehouse in Eastern Oregon and forgotten like the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones. Damn public schools...:)

Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.

RE: Not diving, but close (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by radial on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 12:38:17 AM EST

public schools usually are required to auction the equipment off to the public.  It was purchased with public (tax payer money) so there's usually stipulation to it that when it's disposed of, it must not be trashed, but attempted to recover some cost of it.  You still can get some great deals at these auctions though.


[ Parent ]

Which Basement? (none / 0) (#77)
by Deltastorm on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 03:51:02 PM EST

I'm interested in this basement and it's whereabouts.

"I'll goatse OS X and gui an emacs in soviet russia." --rusty
[ Parent ]
why stores generate so much useable waste (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by squidinkcalligraphy on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 09:28:39 PM EST

Most supermarkets have regular deliveries of food items; if they haven't sold it by the time the next shipment arrives, they have no choice but to throw it out. Even if the food is well within it's use-by date (of sell-by in the US), or perfectly good fresh produce, it has to make way for the new shipment on the shelves.

A shop with good supply and demand management (and engineering) techniques minimises the amount of such waste, but a certain amount is inevitable, as are empty shelves for some lines on some days.

An identity card is better that no identity at all

Believe it or not.. (none / 0) (#100)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Feb 05, 2003 at 12:19:32 AM EST

My dad made good money for a couple of years selling "second hand groceries". The supermarket would load his semi with pallets of stuff they wanted to dump, for $2 per pallet. He would make us kids sort through and throw away everything that looked even vaguely bad or out of date, then he would resell the remainder to other grocery store chains in another state. The explosion of dollar stores kind of ruined the business though - to much demand for "slightly used" merchandise.

"Your article (and I use that term losely) is just a ad-hominem filled rant from a right-wing extremist loony." - Psycho Les

[ Parent ]
mit reuse. greaterboston reuse. list servers. (none / 0) (#70)
by dsaklad on Thu Jan 30, 2003 at 11:43:56 PM EST

Are there any other list server forum type resources like mit reuse and greaterboston reuse?...

See also
[ http://diswww.mit.edu/menelaus/reuse/24563 ]
[ http://www.aq.org/lists/listinfo/greaterboston-reuse ]

WTF? (2.75 / 4) (#75)
by SwampGas on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 01:48:54 PM EST

I know I'm going to get moderated to hell and back, but I gotta say this...who the hell, in their right mind, digs in trash?

On the Spring Cleanup days when stuff is put along the curb, fine.  Walking by and noticing a stack of PCs, fine.  Climbing in a dumpster with baby vomit, rotting food and feces is disgusting.

Most of that stuff goes down the drain ... (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by Cheetah on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 10:23:43 PM EST

Seriously, have you ever put vomit or feces in the trash, with the exception of pet litter?  How many non-food businesses throw away rotting meat?  How often do you throw any of those things away other than in a trash bag?  Want to avoid that stuff?  Poke carefully, take a whiff.  If it smells nasty, leave it alone.  Dumpsters full of office trash usually only smell of the mildew from the water and paper at the bottom.

Most dumpsters are refuse from businesses, and (speaking from personal experience), if you exercise some judgment about where you go diving, most of it is chemically harmless.  You do have to watch out for sharp bits of metal (e.g. from discarded filing cabinets) and broken glass (busted fluorescent tubes are nasty).

In my experience, one of the best places to dumpster dive is Radio Shack.  They hire so many idiots there and sell to so many idiot customers, I've found numerous fully functional items in the trash that someone was too stupid to figure out how to use, and so returned it.

Case in point: AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather radio with digital tuning.  Fully functional.  Why was it in the trash?  The hold switch was activated and none of the buttons would work!

[ Parent ]

Hey! (none / 0) (#88)
by /dev/trash on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 10:46:42 PM EST

Case in point: AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather radio with digital tuning.  Fully functional.  Why was it in the trash?  The hold switch was activated and none of the buttons would work!

I told my boss that was the trouble...can I please have the radio back now.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]

Nope, sorry :( (none / 0) (#104)
by Cheetah on Fri Mar 14, 2003 at 01:37:55 PM EST

I'm not the one that kept the radio, since I already had a much nicer one.


[ Parent ]

wrong type of dumpster (none / 0) (#87)
by hypno on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 09:23:43 AM EST

You're thinking of the kind of dumpster a apartment block or restaurant would have. This is office garbage, not perishable stuff. A office/commercial dumpster is full of things like paper, boxes, and sometimes goodies like old chairs and computers.

[ Parent ]
Are you employed? (none / 0) (#78)
by exceed on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 05:11:17 PM EST

Seems as if you use alot of what you find in a dumpster. What kind of a job do you have?

You must be extremely resourceful.

void women (float money, time_t time);
Local dumpster divers (none / 0) (#79)
by dirvish on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 06:15:02 PM EST

I have seen some pro-dumpster divers in my town. Their target appears to be recyclables. They are fully suited in rain coats and boots. Two guys park a truck next to a dumpster. The truck bed is full of trash cans. One guy jumps into the dumpster and starts flinging every can, bottle and anything else of value out onto the parking lot. The other gentleman sorts the items and places them into the assorted trash cans in the back of the truck. I have considered asking these guys how successful their operation is. I am thinking multi-national dumpster diving business with franchise options.

Is there a union for this occupation?

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Highlights of my dumpster diving ... (1.00 / 1) (#80)
by flarg on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 06:42:14 PM EST

Here are some of my dumpster finds. All of this stuff was in good-excellent condition: - Several pairs of Gap jeans (This was mid-90's, and Gap was really hot) - A Ronco food dehydrator, brand new, never used. My parents still have it. - A futon-frame - A futon mattress & mattress cover(Slightly used, but totally clean) - 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Players Handbook in excellent condition. - Desks, filing cabnets (all good condition)

Highlights of my dumpster diving ... (2.00 / 1) (#81)
by flarg on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 06:42:39 PM EST

Here are some of my dumpster finds. All of this stuff was in good-excellent condition:

- Several pairs of Gap jeans (This was mid-90's, and Gap was really hot)
- A Ronco food dehydrator, brand new, never used. My parents still have it.
- A futon-frame
- A futon mattress & mattress cover(Slightly used, but totally clean)
- 1st edition <a href="http://www.gamers.com/game/377415">Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Players Handbook</a> in excellent condition.
- Desks, filing cabnets (all good condition)

Diving in Columbus (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by vulgrin on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 09:49:09 PM EST

When I was going to school in Columbus, Ohio, we had a stint where we went diving at least once a week. All around the tech corridor around the west side of town, up and down 270.

I loved it. We had some usual haunts, some very great finds, and a good set of rules. (We never broke into anything, and never went into compactors) Usually, we'd have two or three car loads of people, cruising behind office parks and CompUsa's. Dive from about 11pm to 3pm, hit IHOP or Denny's for breakfast / dinner and then go home and sleep.

Waking up, well in the afternoon, it was like Christmas as we tore through all the stuff we found, plugging things in and seeing what smoked.

We got stopped by the police twice. Once we were told to leave immediately, which we did. The second time the cop talked to us while he sat in his car. As soon as we told him what we were doing he said "COOL! I'm a ham radio guy myself and do lots of electronics stuff - what have you found tonight?!"

Best finds:

  • a whole box of logitech computer speakers, some still sealed, some rattling like a rain stick, in the back of a CompUSA. (we think we beat an employee who had stashed them there.)
  • a 80186 motherboard and chip
  • Monitors out the ass. Some even worked. A company was upgrading their equipment and every week had at least 3 or 4 old monitors out back.
  • Some mainframe / panel computer beastie. No clue what it was, and it didn't end up going home with me (thank god). But it was large, steel, had lots of blinking lights and switches. Something you'd see out of an old sci-fi movie. I think one of my friends managed to get it blinking and beeping.

Ah, great fun.

Finding one's self means finding everyone else first.
In a similar vein (none / 0) (#85)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Jan 31, 2003 at 11:34:52 PM EST

My high school has a pack-rat mentality about not throwing away any technology. So, for example, when I got into the telephone room, there were 4 or 5 generations of telephone systems ranging from the huge ~1950 electromechanical setup taking up half the room to the current one only slightly bigger than a modern PC. One of these systems was this refrigerator sized metal box from ITT full of circuitry. There were tons of motherboard-sized circuit cards plugged in throughout, and I would take these out and randomly present them to friends like an expensive gift.

We also have, in another room, IBM XTs and ATs, one of which I will probably take as a museum piece....

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

diving in my town (none / 0) (#86)
by hypno on Sat Feb 01, 2003 at 09:19:40 AM EST

The major hub for any baggable kit in Aber is of course Craft. This is a furniture/electronics recycling outfit which recieves a lot of great kit donated by companies. Luckily a friend of mine works there so I get notified when anything good comes in. Not really diving but it's still free ;)

The other sources are; the student village at the end of the semester - students throw away some really good stuff, solely because they don't have space to take it home.

Also that and the skips (dumpsters) which the university sometimes rents - we have a man on the inside here as well so we get alerted to any good junk up for the taking.

Best finds:

Working tv
DX4-100, with installed and working copy of win 3.1
Kyocera laser printer - sadly stopped working after a couple of months, by which time it had given us about a hundred pages of output.
piles of defunct computer stuff - Apricot workstations, strange multiplexer boxes, etc.
Cabling, old repeaters and hubs.
Massive A3 SCSI scanner (craft)
Best so far is a fully functional and complete NeXT Cube workstation, sourced via Craft. This cost me about £30 but it'll be worth it when i get NextStep on it.. anyone have a copy?

Reactions and stuff. . . (4.00 / 5) (#91)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 02:08:30 PM EST

This was a fun article. Thanks for the entertaining read!

A few thoughts which were provoked from the soup pot of my mind. . .

1. Materialism is out of control when you can find good, working stuff destined for oblivion on the side of the road. But we all knew that. . .

2. Back before recycling was even a word, and before garbage collection was a reality in the corner of England where my Mother used to live when she was a kid, her Dad would pound all the family's discarded tin cans flat and bury them in the back yard. There, beneath the soil, they would shortly rust into nothing. That always seemed solid and sensible and sort of folksy when she described it to me when I was small. "Flatten the cans and bury them." Just part of the daily routine as people scratched their heads and tried to sort out what to do with the first flurries of kipple falling during the early days of our modern disposable society.

3. If somebody else threw it out, I'd probably want to toss it as well. I have enough Godamned Stuff as it is. You guys should come by my house this spring; I plan to 'Lose It', shout at the heavens at the top of my lungs, and hurl as much of my Godamned Stuff at the curb as I can lift. Man, I hate Stuff. All I need are some blankets, books, this evil computer which I alternatively love and hate, some lightbulbs and chairs. --The only other things I need are toilet paper, some shirts and pants. All the rest are just extended parts of a giant dust filter designed to drive me insane.

4. --And my tools. Without a soldering iron, a pair of pliers and a set of those teeny tiny screw drivers, how the can I be expected to fix my Godamned Stuff when it stops working? Sheesh.

5. I knew a guy once who would take a hatchet to anything of value he wanted to throw away. I watched him total an Apple Mac he had recently replaced with a more modern system. He was an angry guy who would literally be driven to distraction by the mere thought that somebody might benefit from something he didn't need anymore. He also liked to vote against parties which supported any kind of social welfare. Guys like him, I think, should appear on anti-conservatism posters. "Do you want to end up like this?" He also kept an assault rifle under his bed and a clip of ammo in the bedside drawer. While he was a near endless source of double-take hilarity, (some of the shit which came out of his mouth. . !), I am glad that I no longer know him. He was creepy and I felt one day that he might decide to punish me for not wanting to spend more time with him. What an Ox-like Moron!

6. I am currently sitting in a luxurious office chair which came from a dumpster, is worth several hundred dollars, and the only thing which was wrong with it was a missing wheel. This arrived at my door one evening from a dumpster-diving friend who was in the neighborhood and knew I was looking for a place to sit. The new wheel cost less than six dollars to replace. (Thanks, man! You rule! Now I can finally sit here in comfort while I contemplate all my Godamned Stuff.)

7. Nope. That's it. That's all I've got today.

-Fantastic Lad

hospital dumpster diving (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by spasm on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 05:31:31 PM EST

I work at a hospital & can happily say the dumpsters there can contain some pretty good stuff with minimal biohazard-type risk involved. Lots of 'obsolete' tech, including funky shit like thirty year old infant humidicribs - in bulk. : )

Federal regs require all biohazardous waste be disposed of in very specific ways (ie not in a dumpster), so in many ways you're less likely to bump into anything bad for your health in a hospital dumpster than a grocery store dumpster. YMMV, and you should be diving with needlestick injuries in mind *anywhere* - many drug users 'do the right thing' & toss used needles in dumpsters rather than abandoning them on the street (cops routinely harrass or arrest for used needle posession in north america, so holding them to take back to an exchange is often not an option. but I digress big time..).

Finally though, keep in mind hospitals in the US are considered potential terrorist targets, & hospital security has let this go to their heads (same with many govt or core infastructure sites). So keep this in mind when slinking around the back of a federally identified terrorist target at 3am dressed in black : )

Yay! (none / 0) (#93)
by Fero on Sun Feb 02, 2003 at 09:14:47 PM EST

Thanks for the wonderful article, I loved it. I used to Dive, but since college I haven't had the time. Maybe I'll have to see what they throw away at the school. *evil grin*
*** MidKnight2501: i wish i had a real penis so i could go to Flex and have lots of gay-man sex. jagil:whitney... you'll never have gay man sex jagil: you're not a man
EXCELLENT (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by limekiller on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 12:49:06 AM EST

Easily one of the best articles I've seen on K5. I'm a big fan of "useful" and this writeup/FAQ/howto, while mostly self-evident, is a great primer on not only how to go about diving but also the tacit implication that there are lots of good reasons to do it to begin with.

I have lived near both MIT and Brown and the amount of not-even-close-to-end-of-life stuff that I've found has ranged from college textbooks worth $10-$90, perfectly good shoes (my size, too) to Champion sweatshirts to curtains to a VCR that just needed the heads cleaned to functional, year-old computers. And I'm really cutting the list short.

I'm also impressed that the author decided to flag this as "Culture" because diving is precisely that. Not only is it social, not only is it a How To Recycle Perfectly Good Stuff but it is also a testimonial as to what a throwaway culture we've become.

And I'm a 30 year-old programmer. What? Like I'm suppose to look down on this sort of thing? Yeesh.

Thanks for the article. Write more if you have the time.

disk diving (none / 0) (#95)
by Skapare on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 04:33:52 AM EST

If you find hard drives, be sure to collect them and dive into them when you get them back home. I've found some very interesting data in some I've "rescued". In one case, health insurance records on thousands of people that HIPAA might make a felony to dispose of like that. Anyway, sometimes those drives can be a treasure.

Interesting article... (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by milspecs on Mon Feb 03, 2003 at 01:33:55 PM EST

Some good tips there. I have never done any "public" diving, a former job gave me the ultimate dumpster access. I worked at a county landfill where we had 20-25 dumpsters set aside for people that didn't want to challenge their vehicles by driving into the landfill "proper". I drove the "tender" truck that emptied the containers. The best "harvest" times were late fall, when the weather got too cold for the garage sales to keep going. Lots of clothes, blankets, etc. that we generally divvied up between ourselves, needy friends and the Goodwill box. Best finds: 30 wheelchairs & walkers damaged in a basement flooding of a drugstore. We disinfected them and donated them to people we knew needed them & couldn't afford them and the balance to the local Lions Club. We also had distributors that would dump their out-of-date products. Lifesavers & Hersheys candy, Planters nuts & snack food and Lawreys & McCormick spices. The spice guy emptied his whole van into one dumpster, most of it still in unopened cases - we estimated at the time about $3500 worth (3/4 of a 4 cubic yard box)! Haven't had to buy spices in years! Scariest find: a quart bottle of Nicotine Sulfate (very deadly) and large glass apothecary bottles of Phenobarbital and Seconal powders.

Never realised there was such a culture behind it (none / 0) (#97)
by squigly on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 08:46:25 AM EST

I've only ever nabbed a few things from University dumpsters.  I thought I was just lucky to have spotted a skip with some useful junk.  I never thought about actually seeking junk.  There was some occasional cool useless stuff, and we did get some nice chairs - much to the dismay of the cleaner who had insisted that our neighbours throw them out.  Also got a microwave with a broken light.

Comoputer hardware was never that succesful.  I once got a 386 server, but this was at a time when a 486 wasn't adequate for a desktop machine.  It wasn't worth ressurecting since all the internal wires had been cut.  We decided to turn it into a barbeque.  

Wood for woodworking from dumpsters (none / 0) (#98)
by Wood Owl on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 01:21:54 PM EST

I have a home woodworking shop, and I've collected HUGE amounts of scrap oak, maple, ash, etc. from cabinetry shops. And some of the scraps are pretty big. One board I got was a 6' long 1"x10" board of solid oak. I always ask the owners of the shops if it's OK to dive, and I've never been turned down.
- "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
Another potentially good find... (none / 0) (#99)
by Kashie on Tue Feb 04, 2003 at 06:23:12 PM EST

While I haven't been diving in regular dumpsters, one of my boyfriends and I raided the dumpster of a company that makes paintballs. We managed to get tons of them in perfectly good shape (though some didn't splat properly when launched and kind of bounced off players instead). I recommend getting paintballs this way. For a little nighttime effort it's worth not paying retail. :)

Old paintballs (none / 0) (#106)
by rusty on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 10:58:54 AM EST

Take care when you're thinking about using old paintballs. Those things have a pretty short shelf-life (which is probably why they were chucking them) and when they start to degrade they get fragile and tend to break in the gun rather than on your opponent. Nothing ruins a good day of paintball like a load of bad paint that you keep having to stop and scrape out of your barrel.

I think the worst case of bad paint I ever saw was a kid who had a whole hopper full of balls break just from him running around with the gun. The hopper was completely plugged with crap, paint all in the breech... it was ugly. I think that was cheap-ass WalMart paint he was trying to use though.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

wow (none / 0) (#107)
by Emissary on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 05:48:31 PM EST

I'm glad I caught you where you'll see my comment. I think I told you about this in your diary a while ago. Comments attached to hidden SIDs like trolltalk are never archived. I thought you should know, so you can fix it if you think it needs fixin'.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
Any reply would do (none / 0) (#108)
by rusty on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 10:22:48 PM EST

I've got subscriber stuff. So a reply to any comment I post will get to me. :-)

I don't know what to do about hidden sid stuff. My gut feeling is it doesn't matter much, but if I get a chance, I'll look at it.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

awesome article! (none / 0) (#101)
by koala 17 on Thu Feb 06, 2003 at 03:12:44 PM EST

hey there...i loved the article. currently a young single mom i'm always looking for ways to make some quick cash and this article gave me lots of new ideas! thanks!

"Women may fake orgasms, but men fake whole relationships."
Buy Furniture?!? (none / 0) (#102)
by boxchain on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 05:21:27 PM EST

Heh.  Well, I did buy my bed, but I've gotten 2 file cabinets, the TV table and my roomates computer stand froom the side of the road.  A sweet padded bench on the porch (which was a little tough to move on a bicycle, it's 6 feet adn wooden).  Both my office chairs (one of which an old neighbor got from the curb adn traded me for some stuff), a Dell laptop (busted screen, P90, clean 1.4GB drive, will be a mailserver).  My home router was thrown away by the last place I worked.  I also scored a box of Amiga sw, so I need to either find an Amiga (there was an empty case there) or an emulator.

I almost fought a guy for my current toaster oven, which I grabbed out of a curb pile in 94.  I really hope it doens't burn my house down one day.  

hi... (none / 0) (#103)
by bcs737 on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 09:51:35 PM EST

happy one month... [:

Congrats (none / 0) (#109)
by unklefatty on Fri May 23, 2003 at 09:59:25 PM EST

On the mention in last month's Rolling Stone... That's too f'ing cool. I almost wish I could give you money for it.

Dumpster diving: an Introduction | 109 comments (105 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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