One of our reader comments last week was about how there is no shame in dumpster-diving. I came across this Wise Bread article that not only promotes dumpster diving but also instructs about how to do it safely and effectively. Dumpster-diving, to a lot of people, may push comfort levels, but in light of tough economic times (especially for people on the move) it may be worth it to try out this strategy. If you look at it this way, dumpster-diving is recycling in its highest form: giving new life to something that would otherwise be trashed.
Here are some ways to make dumpster-diving more productive:
Determine Your Territory: there is a big difference between commercial and residential dumpsters. In commercial areas, look for businesses that sell what you might be interested in/have a high product turnover. Be careful in these areas, however, because businesses may consider diving to be a threat to customer privacy.
Wise Bread finds residential diving to be best around large apartment buildings in established neighborhoods with high tenant turnover. Excess items that don't make it into storage spaces usually end up on the street or in the dumpster.
Timing Is Everything: the transition period between old leases and new leases is a great time to check out the dumpsters around apartments. Many good items get weeded out during moves and may end up in the dumpster.
Courtesy Counts: leave the spot better than you found it when diving. You want to keep it in good shape not only for the property owner but for the next diver.
Select and Reject: avoid things that cannot be washed or disinfected easily. You might want to avoid upholstered furniture, mattresses and clothing.
Take Only What You Need: you don't want to add to your storage costs by picking up too much at the dumpster. Diving should be a way of reducing expenses.
Safety, Gear and the Law: be sure to respect local ordinances and private property boundaries. Garbage is usually considered public domain, but always double check. Never do anything to jeopardize your safety. Don't dive by yourself at night. Use a small flashlight and protective gloves. Keep some anti-bacterial sanitizer on hand as well.