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Dumpster Dive Your Way into Fast Cash

Dumpster Dive Your Way into Fast Cash
Alison Storm

Believe it or not, dumpster diving is becoming a major phenomenon among everyday, middle class people. I was on a walk last week and I found a kid-sized wooden Adirondack chair sitting next to my neighbor's trash can, waiting to be picked up by the garbage truck. It seemed like such a waste to me, especially because there are many people who could put that chair to good use. So I carried it home without hesitation and plan to polish it up, snap a few pictures and sell it on Craigslist. After that experience, I started scanning local dumpster as I passed by, and I soon realized that dumpster diving is a great way to earn extra cash. It's all about seeing the potential in something that someone else has given up on. Since more and more people are searching the Internet on great deals on everything from clothes, chairs, tables, sofas, electronics, etc. all it takes is a little bit of ingenuity and effort to turn someone else's trash into your treasure. That's exactly what I'm doing and below are tips on how you can dive your way into savings by sprucing up someone else's junk. 

Dive Safely

It's important to go into your dumpster diving experience well-prepared. Wear pants and long sleeves. Bring your ID in case you pique the interest of law enforcement. Carry hand sanitizer and bring a long-handled gripper to pull out interesting items without actually having to jump inside the dumpster.

Stay Along the Perimeter

Some experts say you shouldn't dive into dumpsters at all. Instead they advise peeking inside and staying along the perimeter. That will reduce your chance of encountering broken glass or other dangerous hazards. John Westmore found 2 x 4s in a dumpster near a new subdivision and used them for his own DIY project. He says all dumpsters can hold hidden risks so it's important to dress appropriately. "If you are dealing with hazards such as old nails and broken glass, wearing sturdy shoes or work boots, and wearing work gloves is a good idea," he says. And it's always best to go with a group.

Try Apartment Complexes and College Dorms

Some experienced freebie hunters say the best loot is located in areas where people move in and out frequently. Greg Moore lives in a college town where many dumpster divers love when students leave for the summer because they often leave behind great stuff, including appliances, electronics, clothes, and bikes. "One often finds that students (especially foreign ones) discard practically all of their possessions come May. I and my friends have found clothing, books, furniture, etc," he says.

Look Near Specialty Stores and Furniture Retailersdumpster diving

Seasoned dumpster diver Kerith Elizabeth Henderson says back in college she and friends figured out the best hot spots for tossed out furniture and food. Behind furniture retailers she learned that often stores discard dinged tables and nicked chairs that remain unsold after clearance sales. "You can re-paint, or reupholster to your liking," she says. Another treasure trove of trash were gourmet food stores. "Back in the day, we skimmed the top of the trash bins to come up on champagne, olives, imported condiments, high price canned veggies and more," says Kerith. "We would stock our pantry, making sure the fancy label items were in front, while the cheaper, generic canned good we got at the store, are in the back." Search through trash bins behind Pastry shops where they throw out bread and donuts at the end of the day.

Don't Be Embarrassed

Lisa Hanock-Jasie lives in what she calls "dumpster dive heaven": Manhattan, New York. She says many times when people move dumpster divingthey can't afford to take furniture with them, don't have time to worry about donating it, or are so rich they leave behind expensive furniture without thought. "Dumpster diving in NYC is what I refer to as an upscale and/or luxurious scavenger hunt," says Lisa. "I only wish that all the terrific pieces to be found always fit our décor.  I've had to leave many fine and expensive pieces behind, if I can't find anyone else who might take them." Among her scores are a $1200 long yarn shag rug, a sofa and a solid wood hutch. "I don't see why anyone should be embarrassed acquiring items such as these, as they are left without an owner, and in impeccable condition and, in all truth, seem much too costly simply to be crunched in a dump truck," she says. Instead of being self-conscious, consider yourself a friend of the planet who is keeping trash out of our landfills one cool discovery at a time.

Featured Photo Credit, Photo 1 Credit, Photo 2 Credit, Photo 3 Credit

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