What is a Dumpster Diver?

Jacob Queen

A dumpster diver is a person who searches in dumpsters for items of value. These items can be anything from food to clothing and even expensive electronics or antiques. A dumpster diver will frequent different kinds of dumpsters depending on her particular interest, and she will often return to the same dumpster repeatedly to see if anything new has been thrown away. Some dumpster divers see the whole process as a moral obligation to recycle things that others find useless. Many dumpster divers see it as a hobby, and there are others who do it because they live in poverty and they need free goods to stay alive.

A dumpster diver might be looking for anything from food to items of value.
A dumpster diver might be looking for anything from food to items of value.

A dumpster diver will often be on the lookout for anything that may have been thrown away without good reason. An example would be someone who throws away an old television even though it works so that they can make room for a new one. In many cases, a dumpster diver can save very large amounts of money by finding these kinds of items. When this happens, it can be a thrilling experience, and it is often compared to hunting for treasure.

One of the most common items that a dumpster diver may find is food.
One of the most common items that a dumpster diver may find is food.

It is not unheard of for a dumpster diver to make a living selling items he recovers. In many cases, a dumpster diver may visit dumpsters in rich neighborhoods or outside of shops that sell expensive gear. When they find something useful, they can often sell the items at flea markets or online.

One of the most common items a dumpster diver may find is food. There is generally a danger associated with taking food from dumpsters because it may be contaminated or rotten. Many dumpster divers don’t allow this to stop them. Some of these people may actually have to take this kind of questionable food in order to keep themselves from starving. Others can afford to buy food, but they’re still willing to take the risk in order to save a little money.

In legal terms, dumpster diving is not always a clear issue. In some areas, it’s absolutely illegal, while other places don’t have any particular laws that apply. Dumpster diving prosecutions aren’t necessarily common, but they can happen, and some people are forced to do jail time. In general, dumpster divers are often very cautious about avoiding detection, and they may only visit dumpsters after dark or at other times when the area is likely to be deserted.

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Discussion Comments


I find this idea totally repugnant. However, as long as dumpster divers fully disinfect and sanitize only non-ingestibles before "recycling" such ill- attained items, I maybe could be slightly more receptive to the idea.

There's just so many we hear of who use dumpster diving for criminal purposes and those who would pass items off without fully honest disclosure, that I'm now totally skeptical about buying anything on Craigs list or eBay!

Oh yeah, and watch out Antiques RoadShow.

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