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Dumpster Diving...Experience #1

Things in my life seem to be getting more interesting as time passes and the semester reaches a close. Over the past couple of days I have found myself being involved with many new things that I doubted at first, but then embraced them as if I had been doing them for years. I applied for another internship on a whim and was interviewed on the spot which proved to be a great thing. I also decided to write a little article on local shop owner and activist Tim Krupar for Greensburg Magazine, which is in the process of being launched. And yesterday I met with Moira Richardson to discuss some ideas I had for a short play which she really helped me with and put a spin on with the addition of a mime character. During our meeting she told me about a phenomenon known as dumpster diving. I was immediately intrigued by her descriptions of the act which included reaching into a dumpster and finding what were essentially described as hidden treasures. By the end of the conversation I was convinced that this was something I needed to try.

According to Moira you can find anything in a dumpster as long as you know the hot spots around town and what days and times to check them out. I gather that this is almost like a science for some people, complete with formulas and theories. Unfortunately I cannot reveal them at this time due to confidential rules of the act that make it seem almost elitist, but you have to understand this is a hobby for these people. You wouldn't give away all the secrets to something you enjoyed, or at least I wouldn't. I think it is a trial by error type of hobby. I will admit the initial reason I participated in the event was not out of economic necessity, but rather sheer curiosity. I think the fact that it is such an easy thing to look into a dumpster and take things really makes this appealing to me. There is not much effort involved, but then again it is much like a hunt when you are looking through the bins. That idea might not make sense, but its like so easy to do, yet you still feel accomplished when there is a good find.

The one thing that really sold me on the idea of dumpster diving was when Moira read me a list of all the things she had found in one month. It had to be close to a couple hundred dollars worth of items. I couldn't believe all the great things she had named, as well as the ridiculous idea that someone actually threw them out. Really opened up my eyes to how wasteful we all can be. The fact that one of the places we went was throwing away baby clothes that still had the tags on them made me sick. There are deserving people in the world that could use that. We are also talking about food items, toys, crafts and more. I was half tempted to take a pair of skis with the poles in a case, but then decided that I didn't need them as much as I thought I did. One thing that crossed my mind was selling the goodies on ebay and just not telling people they came from a dumpster. It is like they "fell off a truck" or something and landed in my lap.

Tonight I found a $39.99 Pre-Fab Christmas Tree and gave it to Moira as a symbol of my dumpster diving appreciation. This thingt was being trashed because the electric lights on it didn't work. This was crazy because most people could just take off the broken lights and put a regular string on it. Problem solved and money saved. I guess some of the coolest things we found tonight were a fish tank, a cane, a top hat, and some random clothes. I know you may be thinking this is weird or dirty, but let me assure you none of the people I was with jumped into a dumpster and began taking laps in the garbage. It wasn't double dare style jumping and sliding. We all just pulled the things off the top and just went with it. I really want to go again soon, and want to go to different places. All I can say is that it disgusted me how much food, and other items were simply being trashed because of little reasons. A day old loaf of bread is still good to me. If you really want to gain a new understanding of materialism, wastefullness, and economic struggle at its best, then I reccomend looking into dumpster diving even if it is only a one time thing. For right now this is all that I can really say about the topic, but I bet there will be plenty more of these stories to tell in the near future.


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Comments (8)

Hey Leslie! I'm glad you've found yourself a new hobby. Though people occasionally make weird faces at me when I tell them that I am a dumpster diver, you've seen for yourself the sheer expanse of stuff that gets carted to a landfill just because no one can be bothered to deal with it. Here's that list (updated from last night's dive) if anyone else is interested:

What I got from dumpster this month:

8 giant bags of fun-size skittles (exp. 8/07)
2 giant bags of fun-size starburst (ditto)
8 cloth Halloween gift bags
1 Halloween make-your-own candy necklace (sealed)
1 candy vampire teeth (ditto)
1 rainbow clown wig (new in bag)
1 head of cauliflower
3 8 oz. packs of mushrooms
2 packs English muffins (sell by date that day)
5 16 oz. jars of salsa
1 dozen bake-at-home dinner rolls (same day sell-by)
1 bamboo box w/ cover
2 plastic storage bins with drawers
1 bunch of fake bananas
1 giant (!) box of yarns
3 craft books (tatting, embroidery & sewing)
1 yard heart print fabric
1 4 1/2 foot fake xmas tree (compliments of Leslie!)
2 vintage granny-style lace nightgowns
2 turtlenecks
3 xmas hand towels
2 xmas stocking, one brand-new with spiderman on it
1 box of 18 gaudy purple xmas ornaments for above tree


The three rules of thumb I subscribe to are:
1) If a dumpster is locked, leave it alone
2) Leave the area cleaner than you found it
3) Share the wealth.

P.S. We outta put a version of this blog in the mag. The theme is "fringe practices" and this would fit right in. :c)

Leslie Rodriguez:

I love that idea Moira. Sure it might need some fine tuning, but I would love to keep talking about this new and great experience. Thanks for the great comments and for sharing your tricks of the trade.

Valerie Masciarelli:

My luck I'd try this and find a body or something.

I understand what you mean about not being wasteful, Leslie. Towards the beginning of this year I started my own little ways of becoming less wasteful. I only eat as much as I know I can eat, and I try not to leave anything on my plate. If I can't finish something in my fridge, but it still has a good sell-by date, I offer it to a friend or something. Or I feed it to the my personal garbage disposal (my cat Chessie).

As far as clothes and that go, I try hard to find other homes for the items before I consider throwing them out. When I cleaned my closet last year I found TONS of old bows and hair ribbons I wore when I was little. I ALMOST threw them away, but then I decided to give them to this little girl down the street. Going through the bag and picking out the ones she liked made her SO happy, and I just couldn't believe that I almost threw them away!

Good luck with your new sport! It looks incredibly awesome.


Leslie, I am glad you posted this...I know that the idea of dumpsters--and the germs and diseases that people associate with them (me, included)--sounds gross,...But I am even more disgusted with the overwhelming amount of consumption and greed that transpires in our country everyday.

Moira told me about a well-established craft chain that had thrown away some seasonal products, days after the holiday...Apparently, they couldn't get rid of them on clearance, but why couldn't they be saved for the next year?...
And why do we (as Americans) need all these trendy trinkets anyway?

It really is sickening!


Hahaha, that's awesome you went diving. I'm also glad you invited me to Moira's, and I'm sure it's something we'll be doing more often. I got my article assignment too. Let me know when you plan on going to reserach yours, I'll drive because I know you'll wear a pair of shorts or something ridiculous to walk around Gbg in. =D

Leslie Rodriguez:

You know me all too well Stormy. Thanks.

Leslie, I just had to let you know that I totally fixed that Christmas tree you bought over. It's a blinking monstrosity of xmas-y goodness & I'm about to commence covering it with gaudy ornaments. Oh.. yeah... ;c)

Leslie Rodriguez:

I have to come check it out this weekend! I am glad that you were able to make use of it. =)

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