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Dumpster Diving?

Have you ever thought about getting your food out of a trash can?  Don't laugh.  Dumpster diving has become a hot new trend in America.  In fact, dumpster divers even have a trendy new name.  They call themselves "freegans", and as the economy crumbles their numbers are multiplying.  Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries.  Others do it because they want to live more simply.  Freegans that are concerned about the environment view dumpster diving as a great way to "recycle" and other politically-minded freegans consider dumpster diving to be a form of political protest.  But whatever you want to call it, the reality is that thousands upon thousands of Americans will break out their boots, rubber gloves and flashlights and will be jumping into dumpsters looking for food once again tonight.

So is this actually legal?

In some areas, dumpster diving is considered to be legal.  In other areas, dumpster divers are technically breaking trespassing laws.  Although in most areas the police have so many other problems that they aren't really concerned about cracking down on dumpster divers.

One of the biggest issues facing dumpster divers is safety.  Crawling around in back alleys and side streets in the middle of the night is not exactly the safest thing to do.  But the lure of large amounts of free food is enough to keep some people coming back over and over again.

During the recent economic downturn, the popularity of dumpster diving has exploded.  Today, there are dumpster diving meetup groups, dumpster diving Facebook groups, and even entire organizations such as Food Not Bombs that openly encourage their members to go dumpster diving.

If your family was going hungry, would you go dumpster diving?

You might be surprised at who is doing it.  Dumpster diving is not just for the homeless and the unemployed anymore.  A lot of people that have decent jobs have picked up on the trend.

Just check out the following example from a recent MSNBC article....

A programmer by day, Todd takes to the streets of North Carolina by night, digging through Dumpsters at drug stores and grocery stores all around his rural neighborhood.

"You would be simply amazed at what businesses throw out," he said. "I've only had to buy two loaves of bread all year. ... Last week I had a trunk full of cereal, cookies, chips and ramen noodles."

Todd slinks in and out of smelly places with low-light flashlights to evade rent-a-cops who will shoo him away.  Most nights, his 14-year-old son comes along.

Dumpster diving has become such a prominent trend that even big television news networks are doing stories about it....

The truth is that dumpster diving is just another sign of the times.

Food prices continue to rise and this is putting incredible stress on the budgets of average American families.  We just saw another huge rise in food prices during the month of August.  Just check out the following data from a recent article posted on The Economic Policy Journal....

The index for finished consumer foods jumped 1.1 percent (13.2 percent annualized) in August, the third straight rise. Over thirty percent of the August advance can be traced to meat prices, which climbed 2.4 percent (28.8 percent annualized). Higher prices for processed poultry and eggs for fresh use also were major factors in the increase in the finished foods index.

If you are married and have a couple of children it can cost a lot of money to feed them every single month.  It is not hard to understand the allure of dumpster diving for people that are having a hard time making ends meet.

Other Americans are choosing to dumpster dive because they believe that it helps them live a simpler lifestyle.  There is a growing movement of people in America that are rejecting all of the "consumerism" that we see all around us.

Today, the average U.S. household has 13 different credit cards.  We are constantly being bombarded with ads that tell us that we need more stuff in order to be happy.

Well, a lot of people have decided that is a lot of bunk and they are doing whatever they can to simplify.

Other dumpster divers are absolutely horrified by how much food is wasted in America.

It has been estimated that 263,013,699 pounds of food is thrown out in the United States every single day.

Can you imagine?

We are probably the most wasteful nation on the planet.  With the number of hungry people in the world, it is absolutely criminal how much food that we waste.

So in that sense, it is probably a good thing that dumpster divers are saving some of that food from the landfills and are finding positive uses for it.

But what is going to happen when the economy gets even worse and we start seeing fights over the food that has been left in dumpsters?

In my recent special report about poverty in America, I noted that 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty.  For now, the U.S. government is helping feed over 45 million Americans through the food stamp program, but what is going to happen once the social safety net starts to break?

The number of good jobs in America continues to decline, and thousands more Americans fall into poverty every single day.  Things have gotten so bad that other countries are actually making videos that make fun of our poverty.

This country is rapidly losing confidence in our leaders and hopelessness is spreading like wildfire.  Today it was revealed that Barack Obama's disapproval rating has now set a new high of 55%.  Not only that, 62% of the American people disapprove of the way that he is handling the economy.  It turns out that they don't really think much of the Obama jobs plan after all.

Unfortunately, even though our economy is rapidly falling apart and most of our leaders are either deeply corrupt or completely incompetent, most Americans are still way too apathetic.  If you can believe it, the American people spend a whopping 53 million minutes a month on Facebook.

Hopefully we can get more Americans to wake up.  Hopefully we can get them to understand that they need to get active, that they need to prepare and that they need to get their priorities in order.

Right now, dumpster diving is cute and fun and an interesting way to save money, but in the future there will be millions of Americans digging around in trash cans if we don't get this economy turned around.

This country is rapidly changing, and not for the better.

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  • Patrick Doucet

    Why are all you people blaming the Government. If the american people wouldn’t have bought the products that were imported from other countries then we wouldn’ be in this mess. It is us, the working man that put us where we are. So be a man and take the blame as I do. But I am tring to fix the job situation now. When I go shopping I look for american made and if I cannot find it in the stores then I come home and look on the net. If every bodoy in the USA would do the same the Manufactorers would have to come back home. I THINK

    • Gabriel

      Yes it might be us that is hurting our self with not buying American made items. But at the same time with little money I want to buy items made in the USA but can’t see myself doing that when I can buy two of the same thing for the same price made over seas. Any ideas how I can get two of the same items made in the USA for the same price I would pay for something made over seas?

    • messy hair

      Doug, I am sure your on the right track. i do look for American stuff on the shelves. I also buy American owned and made in the USA autos, not Toyota and the like. One friend said, “well Toyota’s are made in the USA,” but I reminded him that the profits of every sale go back to Japan!!

  • comnenus

    If every business owner did what I suggested, dumpster diving will disappear within 72 hours.

    • J.Weaver

      Well! Aren’t we uppity! Might I suppose you have already tried your style of dumpster diving only to find out so many times someone got there before you? So you gave it up and since you don’t or can’t have then you would refuse others. Right? I know your type!

    • PDS

      I have been diving for years. You run into idiots like Comnenus every so often that don’t understand how ownership works. Here’s an education for you folks like Comnenus. Once you throw it away its becomes public domain meaning you NO LONGER OWN IT! You throw it into a dumpster which is leased to you by a garabage company. YOU DONT OWN THE DUMPSTER EITHER! Gues who owns the trash? The garabage company does! SO get off your high horse about you owning whats in the dumpster and get a clue. And personally, if I saw you taking the time to pour bleach all over food some other poor kid could eat you would get the shit kicked out of you in the back alley behind the store.

  • r_sigei

    And you need to take control of your finances by getting financial education. The market is rigged against you. Your IRA and 401K are in danger of becoming worthless.

  • http://deleted joeyche21

    That’s great! Please do recycle..

  • wreighzzah

    with its never ending recession problem, still America is not ready for dumpster diving. America do recycle but not as much as china and other asian countries. Who profits and turn this dumps and throw away things into cash.

  • Katie Caliente

    got me a new mirror yesterday, and my boyfriend says if i paint the looks more or less by design!

    hooray for dumpster diving!

  • Royal Thomas

    I feel Dumpster diving is very degrading especially when diving for food. I feel no one should eat out of a trash can. I feel it’s what’s wrong with america and really contradicts the word Common Wealth! If your in there to supplement your income it’s kinda different or you see that as the best way for you to bring in income. All about swallowing pride. On the outside looking in, if you decide to reside in a trash can for political purposes then you are making a statement, but i doubt it will be enough to change america unless everybody did it and well families in trash cans doesn’t sit to well with most providers, however if you did decide to reside in a trash can you will not have to pay room and board, and no utilities if your bringing in income, have no responsibilities then you are free to do this and it is possible for you to become above poverty. Should you never change your living situation there will be nothing you wont be able to afford. Then your problem will be solved and I hope you move into at least an efficiency. Royal Thomas

  • http://Valkazia Mark Thevenot

    I own a roll off Dumpster company and if it were not for the fact that I mine lots of recyclable material from my cans to either resale or use to barter with I would probably be homeless now.I think the Country is in the process of collapse and all of the sheeple’s need to open there eye’s to the fact what our elected leaders are doing is just not working.There are larger forces in charge than we believe and our system of government is a farce and is being used as the puppet’s in there end game. Who really is pulling the strings? In my opinion it’s the holders of the debt.

  • JD


    You are an asshole. There is a special place in the afterlife for people like you. Hint: it rhymes with bell. I hope you are humbled soon in life cause you and Hitler think along the same lines.

    • J.Weaver

      You have an uncanny ignorance of people in need. If you were starving or short of money to meet your expenses, would you become a dumpster diver or would you simply sit homeless and hungry and die!

  • joe castorina

    You know,years ago b-4 I ever looked I thought all you would find in a dumpster is a half eaten apple.Well last year I made over $9000.00 on stuff I found in dumpsters, not to mention 100′s of brand new bottles of vitamins, deodorant,a 17 jewel pocket watch, a diamond Tiffany ring, $600.00 in new postage stamps, 75 unopened cans of Yuban coffee, a solid oak entertainment center, a state of the art stereo,100 new, unopened Halloween costumes, 10,000 new sheets of sandpaper and much, much more.It’s like treasure hunting without any long drives or specialty equipment!!

    • J.Weaver

      You really hit the jackpot! I could ask where you are located!! Of course I am not thinking of robbing your spots, like finding someones favorite fishing spot!

  • Bodybagger1

    I use to work for an office supply distributor.
    It was my job to throw away perfectly good stuff
    because the packages were ripped or torn. Thousands upon thousands of pens and pencils, various office supplies papers sticky notes,folders and reams of paper were thrown out instead of donated to schools. We crushed file cabinets, water coolers,tables just tons of stuff so the company could write it off and get tax credits. You couldn’t sell it because it wasn’t completely new,but donate it to schools or groups who could use it ain’t going to happen. When I asked why they told me to do my job or find another job. I found another job, it was disgusting how much stuff they wasted.

    • J.Weaver

      Your handle “bodybagger” reminded me of a one time experience. That was finding a dead body in a dumpster! Turns out it was the body of a local hooker who apparently pulled the “wrong trick” on her john and just outside the local bar she found her grave! I also found the body of a skinned deer, apparently that someone hit on the road and skinned the deer and sold the skin!

    • HappyDiver

      Congrats on following your conscience and changing jobs! =)

  • Catdaddy

    I am an AVID diver! YES, I can afford to feed my family, but when I discovered how much GOOD food is thrown away every day, I started making a habit of diving.

    I bet I haven’t spent $100.00 for food in over two years0 and I have THREE freezers and THREE fridges full of food- AND I help feed several other families who are grateful for the assistance!

    I constantly can food, and I now have a dehydrator as well. When the SHTF I will be well fed as long as there is power, and as I dehydrate and can more, even power will be less important.

    People that have never dived need to understand- the produce I get is dropped in in nice clean boxes. The butcher shop “tailings” I cut up for stew beef are from the steaks that got put out TODAY for you to buy! They are in nice clean bags waiting for me to take home!

    The “dating system” that the FDA has come up with means a LOT of perfectly good food hets thrown out, along with dented cans, day-old bread, etc…

    Here’s an example of a day’s haul- 20-30 pounds of fresh meat, several loaves of bread, several bags of taters apples, carrots, etc. Yesterday I got over a hundred red onion sets for my garden!

    I have found brand new bicycles, CASES of cheeses, HUNDREDS of pounds of flour… the list goes on.

    YES, I have been “caught”. I tell them I feed hogs, and it cuts my feed bill. They smile and say, “sure, go right ahead”. If my hogs are of the two- legged variety, so what?

    When the economy collapses- which we will be soon- I will eat well, and many non-divers will discover it ain’t so bad…

    • lesly

      yes what a waste shame they throw away perfect pizzas cookies muffins and i go and save them

  • ddmaster

    Been diving since I think 1997. Never got sick of any dd food – winter or summer. It simply takes common sense and some experience to tell good from unedible. Economy sure is collapsing before our very eyes- one can tell by how eagerly media trumpet “the end of recession” vs. how many friends and neighbors lose their jobs and/or go insolvent weekly. Another sign is that many stores started fencing or locking their dumpsters. I’m talking about few that do not own “compactors”. In my neighboring city a new law was passed few weeks ago that legally qualifies dd as “trespassing”. Things are getting HOT – such interesting times we happened to live in….

  • Catdaddy

    ddmaster- I never have gotten ill, either- and my wife is SURE that some exposure to random bacteria actually makes our immune systems stronger… and she HAS a medical background.

    Got a little chuckle from your post- an ancient Chinese curse translates as “may you live in interesting times”.

    I had to clear out an extra closet tonight just to stack cases of canned meats, etc, that I’ve canned over the last year. My pantry was FULL!

    One of the stores I hit in the past- the closest to me- has now chained their dumpster doors, and I haven’t hit it since. Don’t need to, but if I did, climbing into the top would still be sooooo easy.

    My biggest challenge when the SHTF will not be getting food, but keeping what I have.

    I have guns and dogs for that…

  • Ryan Lamm

    I love dumpster diving. It started when I was a kid. I would dig around in the trash cans at the DIY car wash down the street. I would always find bizarre items. It truly excited me. Now, at 26, I consider myself a pretty good diver. I love going to the outlet grocery stores around 11pm or so and filling up on dented cans, eggs, some meat products, bread, cereals etc etc. I love doing it and am proud of it! Dive on!

  • messy hair

    I have one of those car washes and we have divers every day. I also take notice of what people dump in our trash and have found lots of good stuff. Computers that work, TVs that work, food, beer, furniture, tools, electronic items that work, lots of music on CD and yard sale items that just did not sell. I have even found several lottery tickets that people did not look at carefully and won well over a hundred dollars so far.

  • messy hair

    On another note, the quick stores in our area have those dog and sausage rollers in them. They are required to keep the rack nearly full constantly and must change out the unsold ones for fresh ones every so often. I have seen the people that work there toss out an entire rack of sausages, dogs and other items then rill it back up at 10pm!!!! Use some common sense why don’t you!!

    I asked if I could buy them at a reduced price or just take them home but of course they can not let anyone do that!

  • freegan

    U guys should stop arguing everyone is entitled to their own opinion! And for those of u who dont lik the idea of looking through trash, think of it lik a free yardsale!

  • Jon

    Dumpster Diving–Reno’s Trash Politics, all the dirt on trash that went down in Reno

  • Sanjosemike

    The economics of DD are compelling: Let’s look at a couple with 2 kids who both work minimum wage jobs. For CA:

    8$: 264/week
    9$: 293/week
    10$: 323/week

    Cost of food for family of four 146-289/week
    Total income for both workers: 2112/month. Naturally rent and utilities are crippling, as well as trying to maintain at least one car so both can get to mw jobs. Assuming you can find a cheap place to live, it will cost a minimum of 600/month. That cuts your living budget down to 1512.
    By DDiving for your family food (based upon 220/week), you save 880 dollars/month! If you add furniture and other items, it could easily turn into a 1,000/month saving. If you had to “replace” that money, it would require another minimum wage job.
    Living on mw jobs is like living on a razor blade. It only takes ONE expensive issue to throw you into homelessness. DDiving will help teach your children survival. When they get to be teens, they can even do it themselves, thus multiplying your take.
    When you file your income taxes, you can get an “earned income credit” that will add as much as another 20% income to your family. (Illegals can’t do this, but citizens can). The EITC is 5,460 for 2 qualifying children. Your reportable income is 25,344/year and you don’t have to pay taxes on your 5,460 tax refund. That brings your family income up to 30,804. Not a lot, but survivable.
    This savings can make the difference between home and homelessness, if you can find a way to sell some of the stuff on ebay, which you could train your kids to do. You can find out how in library books. You need a computer, but you will be able to buy one in a few months on saved money. Same with Internet service.

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