Tips for Mastering the Fine Art of Dumpster Diving

Depending on which city you live in, you can practically furnish your entire home with things found on the curb. Obviously there's a few hesitations when it comes to bed bugs and things like that, but for the most part Dumpster Diving is a fine art that is rarely appreciated or utilized to the extent it should be. Here's a few tips on how to find what you want:The phrase "dumpster diving" can mean anything from driving down the street and throwing items left on the curb into the back of your car, or it can literally mean hopping in a dumpster (which isn't as scary as you think). Our tips below cover a wide range of scavenger trash pick up, so there's sure to be something for everyone — just please promise us you won't yell "cannonball" and tuck your feet up when you jump in the dumpsters! Safety first everyone!
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• Large Item Pick Up: Most major cities in the US have at least one large item pick up day. I remember my first years out on my own and literally making trip after trip to fill my home with everything from dining room chairs to dishes. It's amazing what people set out on those days.

• Recently Purchased Commercial Properties: Most often when a commercial property is bought, they'll hire someone to clean the space out for them. There's always a dumpster with at least one piece of hardware or fixture that could be put to use — often times you'll find chairs or even artwork. Watch for empty spaces with windows you can see in. If you see someone in a property with something inside you'd like, don't be afraid to stop and ask for it if you see a sign of life! You never know what they'll say.

• Church Renovations: Although these don't happen often, they happen more frequently than you'd think. We've picked up pews, chairs, kitchen goods and more.

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• First & Last of the Month: During the times that people are moving out and moving in, it's easy to say screw it and not list things on Craigslist. Many people just leave these finds by the dumpsters in their building in hopes someone will scamper off with their past treasures. Find out where the dumpsters are in the buildings near you. Twice a month it can pay off!

• On Actual Diving: Have you ever hopped inside a full size trash dumpster? Most often they aren't as icky as you think they are (though they're not a day at the spa, that's for sure). Make sure you have a good footing on where you're stepping and test a spot before putting all your weight on it. Even though it looks safe to stand somewhere, you could put your foot through someone's week old garbage and suddenly a free table doesn't seem so "free."

• Dumpster Diving Apparel: It sounds silly to say there's a dress code, but for the best success there truly is. Make sure to pack thick gloves like you would use outside in the garden or in the garage. Shoes with soles are an absolute must. Flip flops and dumpsters don't get along and it can be easy to put a nail through your foot (trust us, we know!). Pony tail holders or bandannas are always a nice addition to keep your locks out of your face or the sweat off your brow.

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• Know When Trash Day Is: Although large dumpsters (like the flat bed style) will be removed when they're called to be picked up, regular dumpsters (the kind with the flip up lids) are usually emptied once or twice a week. Pay attention in the areas you're hunting to what days and times those are. It's pointless to hunt right after things have been picked up as there's obviously no trash.

• You Don't Have To Have A Car: Even though it seems like you'd have to have a car to dumpster dive, using your bike can be just as handy (if not less conspicuous), just make sure you come prepared with a rack, box or bin and some twine or bungees to hold things down with!

Do you have any dumpster diving stories to share? Tips to add? Things you wish you would have thought about before you made your first dive? Let us know below!

Image: Flickr member bluebike licensed for use by Creative Commons, jamesfischer licensed for use by Creative Commons, SpecialKRB licensed for use by Creative Commons, and EditorB licensed for use by Creative Commons

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