Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dumpster Diving Like a Pro

My first dumpster diving adventure was a success, but I recognize that I was merely a novice dumpster diver. We had to pass up on some good finds and experienced some unnecessary unpleasantness just because we weren't properly prepared. The next time we dive, I plan on learning from my mistakes and diving like a pro by following these 10 dumpster diving tips.

1. Bring sturdy, water-proof gloves and hand sanitizer.

Gloves are of the utmost importance when dumpster diving. Obviously, you'll want to protect your hands from any bacteria or sharp objects that you might encounter in the dumpster. We learned the hard way that it is essential that the gloves are water-proof so that liquids don't seep through. Make sure that you bring some hand sanitizer or baby wipes to clean up afterwards because you probably won't be able to wash your hands immediately.

2. Wear long sleeves.

Digging around deep in the dumpster, you're just as likely to get your arms dirty as your hands. Protect them by wearing long sleeves.

3. Go late at night.

Trash is at it's optimum levels immediately following business closing hours. You'll want to get there after they have taken the trash out for the day and before trash collection in the morning to find the best selection. Plus, you'll have less of an audience and avoid nasty confrontations.

4. Bring a flashlight.

If you're diving late at night, you'll need a flashlight to uncover the hidden treasures of the dumpster. A headlamp would be super handy if you have one!

5. Take a friend.

Dumpster diving is a team sport. You may need help lifting a large item, holding a flashlight, or backing you up with their super kung-fu skills if someone gets pissed that you're digging in their trash. Plus, it's just more fun to share the adventure with someone else.

6. Bring bags, boxes, and containers to store your finds.

The last thing you want is a bunch of trash free-floating around in your trunk. Bring stuff to haul and contain your finds to make for easier transport and clean-up.

7. Bring something to stand on.

For safety's sake, you probably don't want to take the term dumpster "diving" literally. Try to stay out of the dumpster to avoid encountering hazardous materials. It'll be much safer and easier to bring a milk crate or step ladder to step on and get a better look deep inside without actually having to get in.

8. Invest in a grabby thingy.

Since you're not actually getting in, you'll want to extend your reach with a grabby thingy (you know what I mean). You can buy one at Amazon for about $15.00 but if you're like me, you'll want a free alternative. Basically, anything that has a long handle and a hook on the end should work.

9. Don't dive in any locked dumpsters.

Dumpster diving laws vary from city to city but it's a pretty safe bet that if it's locked, you should keep looking for another dumpster . If they lock it, that means they don't want you there, so don't go looking for trouble.

10. Don't make a mess.

If you go in and make a mess, chances are the building/home owners are not going to be happy. They may decide to lock up their dumpsters or complain to the local authorities, making it more difficult for you and others to dive in the future. Make sure to leave the area as clean or cleaner as you found it.

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DeDe said...

Airborne pathogens may also be more prevalent in a dumpster so for your health's sake, I'd also recommend wearing a protective mask like this...

...or maybe something a bit more ninja-like, but you get the picture. :-)

lpkitten said...

yes! that is definitely a good idea! thanks for reminding me. :)

karla said...

a good item to use to "hook" things is a metal hanger stretched out. I only figured this out when i was in a pinch and needed to grab something out of a dumpster that was out of reach.

JW said...

Please be careful with your dumpster diving. I had a childhood friend who was once beaten by a rat while doing something like this and ended up needing to have a painful series of rabie shots.

change is a good thing said...

Haven't heard anything out of you in awhile. Did you fall into a dumpster?? Hope not! Missing your posts, they are always full of great info. :)

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