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gottamakeart's avatar

"Dumpster Diving" : Have you ever done it, and did you find anything really cool?

Asked by gottamakeart (1323points) July 11th, 2009

I Started doing it in college ( lots of kids with money, and they were quite wasteful) Actually going in a dumpster only happened once.- for a beautiful tramp-art table. Most items were out-in-the-open and I never opened trash bags.

When I move to Boston, more then half my furniture- nothing with upholstery (and even some of my clothes- laundered AND folded when I found them) were quite literally off the street.

I managed to keep my cost-of-living down and it also helped get me through college because art supplies can be ridiculously expensive- I actually found a $200 pad of watercolor paper- with only one page used- right on top of a garbage can. its quite amazing and dissapointing how wasteful people are. But good news for anyone willing to salvage. :)

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23 Answers

Phobia's avatar

I have. My old computer come out of the trash. A company decided to trash it after buying a new one. Nothing was wrong with it, just needed a little cleaning up and it ran like new.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I do this all the time. The first thing I ever found as a kid was an artificial leg with a sock and shoe still on it. I found sterling silver candlesticks, a stained glass lampshade, a huge stack of board games, a bicycle that was practically brand new, and a table.

Bri_L's avatar

@Phobia – I also have an old lap top from a company. I fixed it up and it runs preschool and first grade games for the kids.

juwhite1's avatar

Can’t say I’ve ever had the pleasure…

wildpotato's avatar

I got a little Smokey Joe Weber grill just the other day, and a bag of CDs that included a Cure tribute album I was going to buy. Also, a cat scratching-post, but my cats didn’t like it so it went back outside.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I was a Dumpster Diver before anyone ever coined a term for it. It’s amazing what some folks will throw away, or leave at the curb for anyone to pick up who wants it. Our local community has Spring Clean up Weeks and that is when you can find some of the most incredible stuff. I’ve gotten more useful things than I can even remember, including an antique gate leg table that seated six.

I’ve found everything from a box fan that was brand new, except that one prong of the plug was bent, to a stand up painter’s easel that was in perfect shape, it’s only flaw was being painted the most garish hue of lavender I’ve ever seen. I’ve found a six foot tall solid hardwood bookcase that people got rid of for no apparent reason, beyond a bit of water damage near the bottom.

I’ve found stuff for free and turned around and sold it at yard sales for a cheap enough price the buyer thought they were getting a deal. Once you discover the joy of free stuff, you’ll always be on the lookout for piles of things on the curbs in residential areas.

whatthefluther's avatar

When I was young and first on my own, I was pretty resourceful myself but the stuff was usually adjacent to dumpsters, so actually, it may not have been trash and it is possible I stole borrowed the stuff: plastic milk crates make great shelves, big wood cable reels make nice coffee and end tables, etc.. The only real dumpster treasure I happened upon was some neat large black & white photos on poster board from a graphic arts business near my grandmother’s home. I was in my preteens and on every return visit, would check that same dumpster and would often find usable art supplies and a whole lot of scratch paper. See ya…wtf (my initials)
PS: Welcome to fluther @gottamakeart !

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh definitely, here people leave all kinds of things for others to take…a couple of toy cars for my toddler, some scrap wood to build furniture, chairs for the balcony, etc….and we routinely put out stuff we don’t need anymore for others to take…yesterday we put out a nice coffee table and a perfectly working TV as well as an alarm clock…I put signs ‘please take’ on all the items and within hours they were gone

fireinthepriory's avatar

We have something called the “dump and run” at the university I just graduated from, so at the end of every year people moving away (particularly useful for those who live across the country) would leave whatever they didn’t want in bins in all the campus dorms. Whatever was left was collected and then sold at the beginning of the next year in an enormous tag sale, I think the proceeds probably went to a charity. But if you get to the bins at the end of the year, before they’re collected, then it’s almost like organized dumpster diving. :)

casheroo's avatar

I’ll take furniture or toys, since in my area when people leave big things’s an open invitation. When we moved, we put it all out on the lawn, and most of it got taken up, and we donated the rest.
I see nothing wrong with it, I think it’s better than letting things go to waste.

AstroChuck's avatar

In the early seventies I did. I would hit mostly golf courses and dig for aluminum cans (Beer and soda cans had only recently changed over from steel to aluminum) in the garbage cans and the dumpster. I did this in order to buy a 13” Sony television which still works to this day.

Frankie's avatar

@fireinthepriory We have a Dump & Run at my university too! Must be a popular name.

The only thing I’ve ever taken out of the garbage or off the street was an American Eagle bag (perfectly good, not stained or anything, pretty much brand new) that I found by the side of a trash bin in the alley behind the apartment I was living in at the time, but I see perfectly good furniture and houseware stuff thrown away all the time. I only take something when I have need of it though.

Darwin's avatar

I must confess, I did perform dumpster diving twice in my life. As a starving college student newly moved to an apartment I scrounged an electric fan out of the dumpster – it was a life saver because I couldn’t afford to run the window AC unit. Then in graduate school I found two antique museum storage cabinets in a dumpster. They served as my bedside tables for a long time and are where I store buttons, lace and thread for sewing.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

I found two 85$ backpacks new in the wrapper yesterday and the day before a queen size Coleman blow up mattress new in the box unopened from the factory. I have too much more to list it all. 32 gallons of pistachio nuts.

augustlan's avatar

@walterallenhaxton Careful about those pistachios! There was a huge recall on those.

I have never actually done it, but I constantly see stuff I would take if I only had the time to stop and pick it up, or the room to store it. In the future, I’d really like to pick up the habit. I love taking something old and either repurposing it or sprucing it up… I’ve done it to many things I already owned and several yard sale purchases.

syz's avatar

A kitten.

YARNLADY's avatar

My brother supported himself for nearly 20 years as a scavenger/reseller. He lived in an RV and had “feast day” for the homeless every week with food he found. I’m not talking garbage type food, but perfectly good, never touched food, often from overstock.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@augustlan You generally find some bad nuts with pistachios. Not with this bunch yet.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

A high quality letter tray tonight and a big bunch of dog treats.

Jeruba's avatar

Not I, but I had a considerable vicarious experience of it in reading Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, a novel by Cory Doctorow and one of the ten strangest books I’ve ever read.

However, I do scavenge office supplies when people at work are throwing them out.

Garebo's avatar

Looking down from my office window, I noticed the adjacent building was filling dumpsters with office supplies. In nice clothing, I had no problem lunging into the dumpster to retrieve nice 200 dollar office chairs that were easily cleaned and I am currently sitting on.
Its amazing what businesses will throw away while at the same time claim how environmentally conscious they are.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@Garebo Juts being conscious of at thing does not mean that you care about it at all. The businesses could be totally honest. The dumpster diver is a scavenger. He is the one who figures out what to do with what people throw away. I am currently drying my peperment for tea on a rack that has been salvaged from things found in the trash. I am going to get a lot of tea out of it. There are also plenty of mulberry bushes around to make tea out of as well as catnip. That rack is going to get some use.

CMaz's avatar

A local toy store was closing. When inspecting the dumpster a bit closer. It was full of all the display and demo toys. Beside a few boxed goodies.
This was before ebay.

I guess they say it as stuff to get rid of instead of seeing a value to it.

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