Dumpster Diving – Frugal Hobby Series #3
|April 20, 2012||Posted by thecheapskatemom under environment, features, food, frugalphilosophy, fun, hobbies, hobby, interviews, lifestyle|
||the frugal hobby series focuses on hobbies which are both inexpensive and potentially financially beneficial. if you are a frugal hobbyist, i’d really love to interview you.
Interview with The Urban Dumpster Diver
So….how far will you go for freebies?
In my quest to find the most frugal hobbies out there – hobbies that don’t cost a lot and actually may help you save money – I found out about the (mostly illegal) freegan art of Dumpster Diving. I think something about the risk, the dirt, the treasure hunting (I am a devoted geo-cacher), the thrill of it all appeals to me. Although I don’t think I will be diving into a dumpster any time soon – I would never say never – just hey – you never know.
Dumpster Diving takes the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure to a whole new level. Dumpster Diving is the art form of foraging dumpsters for discarded items – clothes, food, electronics, furniture, – anything that could be potentially useful to the dumpster diver. It’s an extremely frugal activity…. and it’s also rather extreme.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the woman behind UrbanDumpsterDiver. I got a whole new, unique perspective on dumpster divers and I hope you do too.
Q: You run the blog UrbanDumpsterDiver. Tell me, how did you get started as a dumpster diver?
How did I get started? I wished I would have started YEARS ago. Oprah Winfrey had on her show fall of 2008 about how far would you go to survive (paraphrasing it). It showed a woman named Madeline who was dumpster diving and finding all sorts of food in New York City. I was fascinated by it.
On the message boards there were a few people who were from the county in CA I lived in who were dumpster divers. I started talking to one. Her and her daughter started diving for food.
I thought about it for months until I finally had the courage to do it. I started November 2008.
Q:How is dumpster diving frugal? Would you say you save a lot of money diving?
DD is frugal living. Because I find so much stuff, there are a lot of things I do not buy. When I lived in CA, I didn’t buy toilet paper (yes they throw away a 12 pack if one is wet), makeup, shampoo, crackers and snack food, chocolate, produce, bottled water, and many other things that added up.
2007 – 2010 was a very rough period in my life. I had to swallow my pride and do things I would not have ordinarily done. I ate at soup kitchens when I ran out of food. I picked up bottles and cans from trash cans to redeem at the local recycling center to put food on the table. Dumpster diving literally saved my life. I was so depressed about not being able to find a job and if I did find one they either laid me off due to lack of work or they closed down. So when I say I feel your pain about the economy, I do. I have had friends who have lost EVERYTHING in this economy. They lost their savings, their dignity and their pride.
Now I give away a lot of food to those in need and keep what I need for my food stockpile. I find a lot of new makeup that I give away to low income women who just don’t have the money to buy makeup. Makeup has really gone up in price and if you’re a single mom with kids to feed, food is more of a priority than makeup. Some nice blush, lipstick or pretty eye shadow can do an enormous amount of good to a woman who is barely making it. It can lift her spirit.
Q:I have to ask – the term dumpster diving… is there ever any actual dumpster diving involved?
Dumpster diving is aptly named that because
My legs are too short so I cannot. But now since my husband does it with me, he’s tall and can jump in and out like a lizard!
Q: I am interested in hearing about how friends and family respond to extreme frugal life choices. How have you fared?
My family thinks I’m nuts. My brother was worried about my personal safety when I dived alone in CA. Nothing ever happened to me of course. I would occasionally see an unsavory character, but if I felt I was in danger, I left. No dive was worth my life. My nephews think it’s cool. The younger generation seems to be more inclined to go along with me than people my age (I’m in my 50′s). My friends and neighbors think it’s cool and they’re the benefit of many of my large finds.
A couple of years ago when I lived in CA one of my good friend’s nephew wanted to go diving with me (he was visiting her from another state). I had the flu and was miserable for a few days, so we couldn’t go dumpster diving. My friend told me her nephew (who’s in his early 20′s) was really bummed out we could go together and dive.
Q:What are some of your favorite finds?
Good high end makeup, perfume, expensive chocolate, books, yarn and 2 small telescopes.
Q:What are some tips you can share for the newbie who wants to get started dumpster diving?
Wear dark clothing. Have a headlamp on your forehead so you can stay hands free. When you go out diving, try to go in pairs, if you go by yourself, go during the day. Do your recon during the day, to scout new territory (you don’t want to be skulking around at night) and then dive during the day. Be as discreet as possible. Try not to attract attention. You need to be in and out in 15 minutes. Never take more than you need, leave some for someone else. If you approach a diver before you get to one of your regular haunts, say hi and leave. If he/she says come along, there’s plenty for all of us, then you stay, otherwise leave them alone. If security, management or someone else hassles you, leave. You don’t want to run the risk of having them lock their dumpster. Always use the line I’m looking for boxes for moving (everyone’s moving nowadays) OR you have a E-Bay or Amazon.com business (that’s believable). Wear globes, do not poke in the dumpster, you do not want to be poked by a needle. Use a grabber to foist the stuff out. Wear old jeans and a T-shirt. Keep them clean and washed and wear them over and over again. Have a set of DD clothes.
Q:Your blog is an excellent resource of information for newbie dumpster divers. Is there anywhere else in cyber space you recommend folks check out?
Secret Freegan on Twitter. Ginger living in the AZ area finds an ENORMOUS amounts of food. I’m on twitter as UrbanFreegan. My tweets are closed to only those who subscribe to me. Freegan.info is a great website. It’s headquartered I believe in NYC.
Dumpster diving is not for everyone. It’s hard, physical, sweaty work. If you’re not in shape, you will be. You will lose weight. Sometimes you’re up for hours putting stuff away or organizing it in your preps. Sometimes things are covered in soap, dirty or other muck. Wear gloves. Carry hand sanitizer. Keep yourself clean and neat. Make sure you car is always washed so you don’t look like someone who needs to be pulled over.
It’s changed my life. I’m no longer the same woman. I’m now newly married, over a year now and in a different state and home. Things have changed drastically. I highly encourage single women to dive. It takes your mind off of meeting a man and being obsessed about dating (like I used to be) and actually being of service to yourself, the planet and others. It takes your mind off of mundane meaningless activities (like perpetual mall shopping and getting into more debt) and other superficial things that take up our time.
You also see a different faction of society driving behind the stories.
TO keep up with the adventures of The Urban Dumpster Diver, visit her blog.