Dumpster Diving 101

Professional dumpster divers have been making headlines off their abilities to make one man’s trash their treasure.  Many people throw old electronics, furniture, tools, and other retail items away without thinking of the re-sell value. Here is our definitive guide on what to keep and what to trash in order to make a little extra money.
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Image via Corvallis Advocate


Identify high value items before throwing them out

Before going out to the dumpster to find your treasure, think about what you are throwing away. Many people throw away old electronics even though they are in working order. You have to think about what value the item may bring to someone else, because that means you could probably make a few extra bucks.


Always test electronics when you find them (or before throwing them out). Look online to see what other people are paying for the product, and then list your item at a competitive price. This will not only earn you some quick cash but is also an excellent way to reduce electronic waste in landfills.


Stay away from perishable items

Unfortunately, food waste makes up most of what is left in landfills. However, many dumpster divers swear by eating food out of dumpsters! If you can afford not to, we highly recommend leaving food waste in the trash. It’s just not worth the nasty stomach bug, or worse, should you be eating someone else’s spoiled food.


Limit your food waste by making smaller meals that you know you can finish. Always save leftovers to eat throughout the week, and only dispose of waste that you know you, or someone else, will not eat. If you have food that is nonperishable, consider donating it to a local food pantry or giving it to someone who will eat it rather than throwing it away. You can also consider composting food to limit the amount of waste you produce.


Furniture items are a gold mine

Often times, dumpster diving doesn’t involve actually diving into dumpsters. When people get new furniture, they usually leave it on the curb for their waste management company to pick up. Those with an eye for quality furniture are able to know when something is worth grabbing, or if it is beyond repair. Remember, even if the item looks like something you wouldn’t be able to use, try to see the value it might have for someone else. This is how dumpster divers have been making huge money!

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Image via Pinterest


Always look for the potential

Always look for the potential value these items hold. If you find a beat up table, get crafty and fix it up! Many dumpster divers are able to make a profit off these items because they spend a little money fixing it up, and then sell the item at market value.  Others furnish their entire home, just off other people’s trash!


Lastly, don’t go breaking rules! In New Jersey, it is completely legal to “dumpster dive”. Once something is thrown into a dumpster, it is considered public domain. However, it is important to be respectful. When going through trash, don’t leave a mess. Clean up the area and be respectful of your surroundings.


When collecting items in front of someone’s home, ensure you are only taking items that are clearly marked as “free” or are obviously being disposed of. Never take something off of someone’s property. It is important to always use common sense!


Any other questions should be directed toward your waste management company.

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