I’ve got a question that might gross some people out: Have you ever gone dumpster diving?
I have. Several years ago, I bought a computer that came with a rebate. All I needed for redemption was the UPC code off the box that the computer came in. But my wife threw the box away before I got to it. Well, that rebate was worth $100…and we all have our price. So I got in the dumpster (it was a gross experience) and got my $100!
Now a lot of other people are dumpster diving for very different reasons. Some may be hungry, while others do it as a spinoff of sorts from the Simplicity movement on the 1990s. The folks who do it for the latter reason rebel at all the waste we have here in the United States.
Apparently, some supermarkets are driven crazy by dumpster divers who leave a mess behind in their wake. Behind a supermarket where I recycle regularly, I noticed a recently posted no trespassing warning near their dumpsters. They’re likely having problems with divers!
Some people think dumpster diving is a great way to change others’ perceptions about what we discard as a society. A 20-year-old UNC Charlotte student named Kaitlyn who describes herself as a community activist told The Charlotte Observer that she started dumpster diving for food to salvage, cook and eat as part of a monthlong experiment to protest consumerism. Now it’s a way of life for her 5 months later, and she chronicles her lifestyle on The Frugal Dumpster blog.
For those who are less inclined to dive right in, there are other ways you can still partake in this lifestyle to a degree. FreeCycle.org allows you to give away things you no longer want to people in your community. Executive producer Christa used this service to give away a sofa, chair and a small appliance.
In a similar spirit, years ago I talked about how affluent Prince William County in Virginia had so many people digging illegally in landfills that they finally relented and set up a legal way to do it, by granting people access on certain days of the year!
Editor’s note: This segment originally aired Dec. 2010.