Tag Archives: dumpster diving rules

Dumpster Diving Tips

The other day I happened to be exploring in a messy Center City alley when I found my favorite dumpster a complete mess.  There were opened trash bags all over the place, and some people loudly walking away with a bunch of stuff.

I feel like a cranky old fart… this is the kind of behavior that causes businesses to replace dumpsters with compactors, and add chains and barbed-wire fences to protect their so-called waste.  Manners really go a long way here.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone over the rules of dumpster diving…I think it’s time to review:

1) If you remove stuff from the dumpster, put it back when you’re done.  Leave the area cleaner than you found it- don’t be a jerk.

2) Don’t go through dumpsters during business hours unless you’re being extremely discreet.

3) If an employee sees you digging and asks you to leave, do it.  Apologize and come back another time.

4) Assume that what you’re doing is illegal, even if you’re sure it isn’t.  Is it private property?  Is it trespassing?  Is it theft?  Probably not, but it isn’t a debate I feel like having with a pissed off employee or police officer- get in and get out fast!

5) If you find personal information, which you most likely will, deface it.  Give them a pass and hopefully they’ll learn to protect their privacy soon.

6) Only take what you need.


Quick tips:

1) If you’re working from inside the dumpster, which I recommend, wear a headlamp.  Nothing is more annoying than having a flashlight in your mouth.  Gloves go a long way, too.

2) Go with a buddy.  Having a lookout comes in handy, especially if you’re both inside the dumpster.  Nothing is more annoying than having a bag of trash dumped on you.

3) If it’s a high profile mission, hang around the area in advance without actually digging.  Are there cameras?  Security vehicles?  Do employees come outside to have a smoke every ten minutes?  Timing is key.

Obviously I don’t have all the answers, but following these simple guidelines will ensure you don’t run into any issues and walk away with stuff that would have otherwise hit the landfill.  Good luck!