Trashy Treasures: Redditors Share Their Tips for Dumpster Diving

Recycling container trash dumpsters being full with garbage


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Low section of woman carrying garbage bag in kitchen

Garbage Goodies

Have you ever wanted to dumpster dive, but are either too nervous, too embarrassed, or just not sure where to start? Don't worry — there are tons of tips out there to help make it easier to find a diamond in the rough — or, should we say, a diamond in a dumpster. These Redditors shared their best advice. 

Laptop computer with books, pen and yellow legal pad

Do Your Research First

Redditors suggest scoping out Facebook groups in your area to see where divers are successfully finding items. You should also make sure to investigate what your town or city's ordinances are regarding diving. 

"Don't dive if: theres a lock; theres a sign discouraging trespassing; it's someone's private property (house)," says u/canadiancosplayer. "Otherwise, it's pretty much legal everywhere. You can double check online for your region though." 

Trash Dumpsters

Try a Spot Multiple Times

If at first you don't succeed, go back at a different time or on a different day. Don't be afraid to do it in daylight, either.

Sontag and Dialynas Halls, Pomona College
Pomona College

Scope Out College Move Outs

College move outs are known to be a fantastic source for dumpster finds. 

"Find move out days on school websites," says u/MaggieOfTheStreets. "Know your target, where the dorms are and which level students live there. Private colleges, wait till senior move out day if seniors have their own dorming area. Makes it easy to move from dumpster to dumpster. Seniors tend to have more cookware, food, and cleaning supplies as they are not on meal plans." Smart! 

Related: Reddit's Dumpster Divers Reveal Their Incredible Finds

Banker business man shaking hands with client and sign contrac document for comfirm corporation or finished loan agreement for house or building property.Document in photo is fake only for stock phoot.

Make Friends

If you want to dive near a store or other business, it's worth it to be friendly instead of sneaky — you never know what they'll give you. 

"I was a former retail manager. We never cared and sometimes we'd leave things next to the dumpster for them to get. My boss had a connection with one and would call him if she needed to get rid of bulky metal items," says u/foxpoint.

Related: People Did a 'College Move Out Dive' and Scored Major Finds

an asian chinese female wearing her latex surgical gloves at home before the cleaning process
Edwin Tan/istockphoto

Bring the Right Supplies

Redditors suggest keeping the following items with you for dumpster diving: rubber gloves, a small step ladder, and extra-strong garbage bags to carry what you find. Hand sanitizer and a flashlight are also helpful, according to commenters.

One man's trash...

Be Careful of Trash Compactors

"Be careful with Walmart dumpsters because they're usually either locked or they have a trash compactor — do not, I repeat DO NOT go into a trash compactor EVER! It WILL take your arm right out of its socket, if not worse," says u/canadiancosplayer

It goes without saying that no dumpster find is worth a missing arm.

Overturned wheelie bin with spilled rubbish in the residential back street of a northern England city
Peter Carruthers/istockphoto

Close the Lids When Done

Don't leave a mess behind; it's rude and could even be dangerous. "Wild animals like raccoons, feral or stray cats may crawl in the dumpster looking for food. They could possibly end up trapped inside unable to get out. Emptied into a garbage truck and compacted," says u/9inety9.

Young girl wearing alternative face covering bandana is going to throw garbage

Don't Worry About What Others Think

If you're not doing anything illegal, it doesn't matter what those passing by think of your diving hobby. Just do your thing. 

"Expect strangers to be cool. Confident shameless friendliness has worked for me with any employee I run into. I just smile and proudly announce 'I donate it!' So far so good," says u/River_Historical.

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