Are you interested in finding hidden treasures or making a little money from scraps? You may want to give dumpster diving a shot. Believe it or not, dumpster diving is legal in the U.S. because of California vs. Greenwood. Of course, there are some caveats with that ruling. Every town has its own local codes and it's illegal to go through someone's dumpster if it's on private property or if they have it closed off. In short, it's best to ask permission first. If you've got the go-ahead, take a look at how to prepare for your first dive and what spoils you might find.
What Gear Do You Need?
The most important thing you need to bring is a buddy. While you could solo it, you don't want to be alone outdoors at night; and if you were injured or stuck in the dumpster, you'd have no one to help you out.
Some other items you'll need include:
A good light source. While flashlights are good, a headlamp is even better
A portable step-stool
A few empty garbage bags
Sturdy closed-toe shoes
Waterproof gloves you don't mind getting dirty
Clothes you don't mind getting dirty
Nose plugs or petroleum jelly to block bad smells
Once you have your gear, you're good to go. However, there is some "diving etiquette" that you should keep in mind. While the dumpster is obviously going to be messy, don't leave the area messier than when you arrived. Employees and employers won't let you come back if you do. Also, keep your diving for evening hours so that you don't disturb employees or customers.
What Exactly Should You Look For?
The sky's the limit, but here are a few things you might want to try finding:
Unopened Food: While you may be disgusted at the idea of digging for food, many restaurants and shops have to discard good food because of health regulations and date-of-sale laws. In fact, there's a movement called "Freeganism" (a portmanteau of freedom and vegan) in which people reclaim wasted food in "urban foraging." If you don't feel comfortable digging through the garbage for a meal, ask the store manager when they usually throw out things like produce, and he or she may set it aside for you.
Scrap Metals: There are two kinds of scrap metals that you can look for: ferrous and non-ferrous metals. You may even get some money for your donation. Reclamation and recycling centers like to see non-ferrous metals, however. These metals (copper, aluminum, etc.) are worth more because they are more durable, they are better conductors, and they're not magnetic.
Cans and Bottles: Like scrap metals, cans and bottles can earn you a little pocket change if you take them to recycling centers. And, they are often easier to find than non-ferrous metal. Some places pay per bottle while others pay by weight.
As you can see, dumpster diving is a fun and possibly profitable activity you could try with your friends! Contact some people that might know more, such as Tri-State Disposal.