No Shame In Dumpster Diving

By Paul Howard

May 11, 2017   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

A majority of people might feel funny about second-hand recycling or, as it’s more commonly referred to, dumpster diving. The truth, however, is that it’s filled with lots of rewards.

Of course, I’m not talking about just any old dumpster in town. The gold mine comes around this time of year, particularly in college campuses. Those college kids love to throw shit out.

Printers, mini-refrigerators, cameras and even computers. You can find all kinds of gears simply by looking in and around college campus dumpsters. And not just that. You can also find things, like totes, bags, racks, and furniture of all kinds, in that same place.

Now, I’m not advocating one to grab a shovel and start digging to the bottom of any industrial dumpster. Heck, you can, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Most kids leave their useful “trash” to the side of the dumpster that you won’t need to dig deep. In fact, you can get a good view of things just right on the top.

And to hell with feeling uncomfortable. There’s nothing to be ashamed of collecting perfectly useful items once used by other people. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to be seen near a dumpster just because you’re too afraid that girls or guys won’t go out with you anymore.

There’s plenty of reasonably clean gears within easy reach inside college dumpsters. That is to assume that they haven’t been sitting long and haven’t endured harsh weather conditions. Of course, plenty of things can withstand these elements for a short period and be okay, but there are also those that degrade quickly. Textbooks, for example, can provide easy cash, assuming the condition is adequate.

I like to think that most people recycle daily, though I’m probably wrong. Those who do toss their La Croix cans, beer bottles and milk jugs in those environment-friendly blue bins to be picked up and taken off to recycling factories. There, they are repurposed and transformed into other much useful things. Without a doubt, it’s a very positive thing to do for the environment.

So, why not recycle like this?

The benefits and possibilities with dumpster driving are abundant. You could start a little pawn style business with the treasures you find or even put on a dumpster art show. Nobody will stop you from using “trash” to be your creative outlet.

Food is another, though far more questionable, commodity you can retrieve from dumpsters. It’s relatively common in dumpsters you can find in grocery chains and markets, but not so much on college campuses. While I gravitate more towards household items, there certainly are people who look for perfectly fine packaged food out back.

In fact, I recently saw an American Ninja Warrior episode (I was in a Chicago hotel room with limited channels) and the dude who won the challenge was an avid dumpster diver from California, primarily for food. If an American Ninja Warrior advocates it, you know it’s legit.

Not only can dumpster diving save you money on daily products, you can also get a lot of things that work perfectly fine from the dumps and landfills. If you’re creative and willing, you could even salvage and utilize broken items for other purposes.

Knowing so much working “trash” is tossed out by tons of people is a shame. But there’s no shame in being in the thick of the recycling hustle and doing good for you and for your environment.

See Also: 10 Ways to Enjoy a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Paul Howard

Author, music maker, jester, human, etc. living in Nashville, TN. My travel-humor book Vagrants in Paradise is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and *select* stores across the country. Keep an eye out and an ear to the ground.

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