14 Comments to “Dumpster Diving…the last frontier of frugality? Invisible eco-warriors? Low class scavengers?”

  1. fihollandsfigueroa

    Mar 15th, 2010

    Go for it!

  2. fihollandsfigueroa

    Mar 15th, 2010

    we're doing research for building an earthship up near Terrace BC. Looking forward toward reading about your process….good luck!

  3. Sandra

    Mar 15th, 2010

    Where are you in your research for the earthship? You may email me privately if you wish…sandra@northriverloghomes.com Sandra

  4. Kim

    Mar 15th, 2010

    Can't wait to read more!!

  5. Chris

    Mar 15th, 2010

    Intellectually, I can justify dumpster diving.

    Emotionally, I am not sure if I can make the leap…maybe if you called it gleaning?

    It has always really bothered me that food waste gets mixed into commercial dumpsters and put in a landfill. Everybody is complaining about landfill capacity in the first place, and we are filling this space with perfectly good compost that should be going on gardens or getting dumped in a forest?

    The irony of paying to haul a tomato that final distance to the dump after it has already traveled so far and had so much invested in it is enough to make me scream!


  6. Ann

    Mar 15th, 2010

    We did some dumpster diving to build our home (eco-sense.ca). It was a wonderful experience and the kids took to it instantly…problem was when they bragged about this experience to their other friends…suddenly they were not allow to play together anymore.

  7. Carla Shore

    Mar 16th, 2010

    Just to address Chris' comment about food waste being mixed in, the City of Vancouver is starting in April to collect fruit and veggie scraps in our yard waste bins, and in a year, will collect all food scraps at the curb, and is planning to move towards bi-weekly garbage collection. The City of Port Coquitlam is already doing this.

  8. Sandra

    Mar 16th, 2010

    Ann, isn't that disappointing? When I hear stories like this I see closed minds that haven't even tried to open a little and examine the issue. In my mind there's a retail store with a front and back door. And a whole year's worth of discussion discussing the differences between what goes in and out those doors…(and the people going in and out too!)

  9. Kim

    Mar 16th, 2010

    We too have found some amazing building materials from local dumpsters and we will continue to do that. The amount of waste is unreal and so sad! As far as food , I am not to sure what I feel on that yet but I would LOVE to read and hear more about it. There are definitely some strong feelings out there on it both ways thats for sure! The part that I can't wrap my head around is that fruits, veggies, plants etc are also put into dumpsters, not composted..

  10. pcprov

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Wow – this brings to mind the way things USED to be here in Japan. When I first came here there were 2 different kinds of garbage nights. One was for regular burnable garbage (yes they incinerate most household wastes that can be burned here – a whole different kettle of fish, environmentally speaking, but ANYWAY), which was collected twice a week. The other was called “sodai gomi” or “big garbage”, which included non-burnables and any other large household items (tables, fridges, whatever…) that people wished to dispose of. The thing we (and many other used furniture salesmen, metal recyclers, and some members of the general public) used to do was go “gomi hunting” – we’d watch for “big gomi” nights in our neighborhood and go shopping! When we came back to Japan after a 2-year hiatus in Canada, we outfitted an entire apartment from the gomi – tables, a great bench that only needed the seat re-covered, kitchen cabinets, a couple of wardrobes to hold clothing, even a bunch of dishes! We’d collect what looked good, clean it, sometimes refinish or paint it, and we were all set – for free! Even now, 12 years later, we are still using several pieces of furniture we found then. Of course no self-respecting middle class folks would be caught dead gomi hunting, but we were definitely not the only ones out there. The system has changed now so that you have to pay to throw out your big garbage – you call the gomi center, say what it is that you wish to dispose of, and they tell you when to put it out at the pick-up spot and how much you have to pay to dispose of it. Then you go to the convenience store in your neighborhood to buy a coupon that you write your gomi code on, and you stick it to the thing you’re throwing out to prove you’ve paid to do so. It’s still ok to take home anything you see that’s on the curb, though.

    Re: food from dumpsters, I have to say ixnay on that. Who knows where it has come from, why it was thrown away – the “ick” factor is too big on that for me.

  11. Anonymous

    Mar 18th, 2010

    If you are feeling uncomfortable about dumpster diving consider reading The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving by John Hoffman:

    Another book I am reading right now is Radical Homemakers By Shannon Hayes. Sandra, I think you will really like this book. You could have been one of her radical homemakers. Her website is:

  12. Nicole up North

    Mar 20th, 2010

    I have no problem dumpster diving for boxes, household items, outdoor toys, etc…but I wouldn't feel comfortable with food though, health and safety issues, and definitely the ick factor….
    Loving my indoor worm composter, I would compost other peoples food to receive more black gold from my little workers :)

  13. Christie

    Jul 7th, 2010

    Me again – last week we scored a nice cabinet from the gomi!! It has been a long time since we’ve seen anything good out there but the kids and I were on our way somewhere and we saw it set out with it’s sticker on, ready to be picked up and hauled away to the landfill. Even though we were in a hurry, we screeched to a halt, the kids picked it up and carted it back to the house, where we later cleaned it thoroughly, then placed it in the kids’ room – a perfect spot for bedside lamp and alarm clock, with shelves inside for Maya’s treasures!! Oh, and thank you to “anonymous” above for the book recommendation. I read it cover to cover and it has got me thinking about how I spend my days…

  14. Sky

    Jun 9th, 2011

    I think dumpster diving is a great practice. In North America we constantly throw away food that’s a little past it’s due date. Bakeries and pizza stores have some of the best foods to grab. I barely consider picking furniture, books, CD’s etc. up during garbage week dumpster diving because it hasn’t even seen a landfill or a truck. You would probably feel fine about buying them in a second hand shop so why not grab it for free? Half my room is made up of second hand/re-used/street grabbed furniture. I just give everything a good scrub and cleaning and it’s as good as new! I probably wouldn’t eat meat, dairy or fruit from a dumpster, but most of our food is filled with preservatives anyway so it would keep on a cool day. Plus we have free healthcare in Canada so if you get sick… haha just kidding, just use some common sense! :)

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