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Tips for Women Dumpster Divers

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Wife and mother of 3 trying to make sure my family is ready for anything.

All from one dumpster in one day!

All from one dumpster in one day!

Yes, Women Do Dumpster Dive

What do you think of when you think of someone who dumpster dives? The common thought when people hear about dumpster diving is that it must be a:

  • Middle aged
  • Dirty
  • Homeless
  • Man

    Well I am here to tell you how far from the truth that is. Do homeless people dive? Of course! Are they the only people diving? NO!

I myself dive several times a week. I am an attractive (not a model or anything), early 30's, middle class, wife, and mom.

So why in the world would I be getting anything out of a dumpster?

Several reasons. First of all do you have any idea of the millions of dollars worth of stuff thrown to the landfills each year? Why should it go to a landfill when it can be used? Surely you don't think that just because it is in a dumpster it is not good? My other reason for diving is the amount of money we used on food. It's crazy how much it costs to feed a family these days. So why not score free food when we can? And lastly, it's kind of fun. It's like going on a treasure hunt, never knowing what your will find.

Where and When To Dive as a Woman Dumpster Diver

Figuring out where and when to dive can be tricky. You would think you just pull up to a place and check out a dumpster. While sometimes it is that easy, for the most part it requires some planning. Once you get use to your area then you can determine if it will be that easy.

The stores you will want to dive will depend on your area. Usually the best places are small grocery stores, dollar stores, furniture stores, and electronic stores.

The key is figuring out a few things.

  • Does the store have a compactor? If so stay away.
  • What day does the store get trucks? You need to stay away when the store is getting deliveries.
  • Are you wanting to dive at night or during the day? Us moms can't always get out at night so days can be an only option. That's perfectly okay. Don't let the sunshine scare you away.

If you do go during the day be prepared for people who work at these stores to come out and "catch" you. There are several ways of dealing with this. I usually where decent clothes so that I don't look like what people assume divers are. Sometimes I just get in the car and drive off. Other times I will ask if they have any boxes. The key is to remain calm and NOT act like you are doing something wrong.

An awesome find in an Aldi dumpster

An awesome find in an Aldi dumpster

What Should a Woman wear to Dumpster Dive

I have gone diving in a lot of types of clothes. Just this week I was diving in knee high boots and a sweater dress, though I admit this is not my usual wear. The best thing you can wear would be something comfortable but nice. It is probably not a good idea to go diving in a dress! A good pair of sneakers, a cute pair of pants, and a nice shirt should do.

I suggest pulling back your hair into a pony tail or braid of some type just to avoid getting anything in your hair, or worse (I've done it), getting your hair caught on the actual dumpster.

Also if you have a belly button ring try getting one of those back braces that wrap around your stomach. This way if you lean over the edge of a dumpster you don't get snagged!

The Benefits of Being a Woman Who Dumpster Dives

While some may not like it, being a woman can have many benefits. In towns where the police are clueless to the laws of dumpster diving or when you have an employee come out while you are halfway in a dumpster being a woman can make others a little more comfortable with you. Police tend to be a little more friendly with you than they normally would be. So remember if need be, use that feminine charm!

Be polite, use a softer voice, whatever you have to do to get out of the situation with as little hassle as possible.

Remember the Laws of Dumpster Diving

While it is legal to dive almost every where in the USA, please remember to check your local laws! Just call them and ask. To be on the safe side, never dive a dumpster that belongs to any financial/loan place. It is too big of a risk. I don't want anyone to think I am trying to steal personal information.

Also one grocery store dumpster I go to has a post office in the same shopping center. I avoid that dumpster like the plague. I am not going to catch a felony charge!


Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on February 08, 2019:

Businesses throw away so much stuff. It's a tragedy. Dumpster diving won't solve the world's problems but it's far better than seeing stuff go to waste.

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Crayday on October 23, 2015:

@Mstreasurelove, are you still looking for someone to go treasure hunting with? I am also in the city and i am interested in going treasure hunting. Im new to this and I dont want to go alone on my first dive. let me know if you are still looking for a partner

Mstreasurelove on September 03, 2015:

Hello Im in the baltimore City area and Im looking for someone to come treasure hunting with me...If anyone is in my area let me know asap!!!!

Janae on February 14, 2015:

That takes us up to the next level. Great potgnis.

DivingQueen on January 20, 2013:

A few other things that pertain to being a woman dumpster diver:

Normally I go at night. Sometimes in early morning. If I'm going when there's no one else around, and my boyfriend doesn't come with me, I take my two dogs in my car, a hand knife or exacto knife (ostensibly to cut open plastic bags, but also as a just in case measure), and I let someone know by text when I'm arriving at that location and when I'm leaving. Sometimes I have my pepperspray with me as well. I have a whole route that I sometimes do part of, but oftentimes do all of it, so as a female, if you're diving the first rule is a) protect yourself. There's worse things out there than annoyed managers who just want to discourage divers and b) there has to be recourse if you don't check in, so someone can come to your location and hopefully help you and not have it be a worst-case scenario (or if it is, at least have some place to start looking for you.)

That being said, it's an enjoyable activity for me and has gotten me both things to sell and things for my family (boyfriend+2 dogs) to eat. First I started off only getting food for the dogs when I was looking for just non-edible stuff for the house. Once I saw how well-wrapped everything was, and sometimes even being thrown out a few days before the expiration date (not that the food really expires then, just best by) then I started stalking my two fridges. Our grocery bill has gone down quite a bit, and since we used to eat out a lot, we're also learning how to cook stuff at home. It's been a complete paradigm shift. Even though we still sometimes stress about money, we don't ever have to stress about food-- the irony is that we're eating more healthy now than when we were depending on going through the front door of the grocery store, or eating out at restaurants!

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on December 02, 2012:

Great tips there, its much harder in the UK as they usually lock their bins, or keep them in a gated area. The law is you can take stuff on the street but npt if it is in a gated area or on the shops land. We have never tried it, but I often get the urge to, I watched a british documentary on it once and they went just after christmas and came out with 16 turkeys! and piles of mince pies, there was nothing wrong with any of it! Its terrible how much we waste!

heavenbound5511 from Under the shadow of the Almighty God! on November 19, 2012:

Very cool page, we get some stuff from some dumpsters near by just because there throwing it away new in package...what a waste for someone not to use it.Thanks!

Annsalo (author) from Somewhere on November 19, 2012:

@loveofnight So funny! They just don't expect it to be anything other than druggies and homeless people. A couple weeks ago we drove up on an empty newer BMW next to a dumpster, thinking it must be an employee I went ahead and hopped out to look in the dumpster, the driver was inside the dumpster.

@suzzycue It is a lot like a treasure hunt. The great part of it is never knowing what you'll get. We find so much stuff I ave a whole section in my basement. Maybe I need to have a yard sale!

Thanks for the comments!

Susan Britton from Ontario, Canada on November 19, 2012:

You are my kind of person. I am a Dumpster Diving Diva. I have never got food from a dumpster but my whole apartment is decorated from them. I use to go behind the malls and get all kinds of new stuff from dumpsters that the stores threw away. My neighbor and I use to even have yard sales and sell the stuff for money. Dumpster diving is a hoot, sort of like treasure hunting.

Loveofnight Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on November 18, 2012:

Useful and interesting, I love dumpster diving. I was once approached by management while dumpster diving and I started treating and talking to him as if he was my next door neighbor and it threw him off guard. He didn't know what to make of me. He was even more shocked when I put my new found items in the back of my sports car, I'm sure he's still scratching his head on that one. Thanks for the heads-up and keep hubbing.

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