What You Can Learn from a Dumpster Diver

by CC Christiansen

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I am an experienced dumpster-diver and proud of it. You can find the best things in another person's waste. However, this article is not about how to dumpster-dive, but what I have learnt from it.

  1. Don't buy food you do not like. I find a lot of vegetables and fruits in their original package. Why? Because obviously a lot of people try to eat healthy and then buy food they don't like/eat. Stop that! It is a waste of money. If you don't like apples and carrots, you will not eat them, so do not buy them.
  2. Stop buying sweets/cakes/cookies. It is a totally waste of money to throw sweets/cake/cookies away because you decide to stay healthy or slim down. Don't buy them in the first place. If you do anyway, at least give them away (kids, work, friends).
  3. Not liking a present does not mean throwing it away is a good option. Either sell it on eBay or wherever, give it to someone else or keep it and give it away as present (don't forget to write down who gave it to you, so you don't return it to the giver). Furthermore, tell the person who gave it to you that you did not like it or tell them what you like next time around. During Christmas season, I find presents still wrapped in the wastebasket. I am always happy about them, but they were not meant for me to be happy!
  4. Christmas waste is most interesting. You not only find presents, but also you find tons of food and even more cookies and sweets, given by loving relatives. If you don't feel like eating them, why not bring them to work or freeze them. Someone spend a lot of money, time and love to make them! The same goes for chocolate Easter bunnies. The chocolate can be used for something else (cookies, cakes, etc.) or just give it to a kid/mother that you know.
  5. Don't take hotel give-aways or samples if you won't use them. Why do people take shampoo, soap, sewing-kits, etc. from hotels and then throw them away unused? Give them to friends, family, or homeless shelters. Someone will enjoy them. The same is true for all samples.
  6. Someone can always benefit from useable clothing. I understand that it is easier to throw clothes away, but why not give them to shelters, churches or other non-profit organizations when still useable or sell them on Internet. If it is new and you find out you do not like it, just bring it back to the store to get your money back instead of keeping it and then throwing it away with its tag still on it. I'll have towels and pillowcases till the end of my days (and they all had still tags on them) and I am not even 30!
  7. Throwing away coins doesn't add up. I am aware that coins are somehow annoying, but do you have to throw them away? How about collecting them in a jar or give them to charity? Even if it is foreign money, some charities don't mind that at all.
  8. Don't throw away half-empty bottles of cosmetics, shampoo and lotion. I find half-empty bottles all the time. You can always put the bottles upside down to get more lotion, shampoo, etc. out of it or cut them in half. You can really save a lot of money this way (and help the environment).
  9. Children's toys can always find a new home. Except when broken, these should not end in the dumpster.
  10. Old magazines shouldn't be thrown out. Maybe someone at work or a friend would like to read the newer/latest issue of a magazine? How about using them to wrap gifts (some ads are nicer than wrapping paper)?
  11. Wrapping-paper can usually be used more than once. Ever considered that? And how about using newspapers or magazines instead?
  12. Plants should be given away, not thrown away. When not dead, why not give them to someone that either likes plants or has a garden to put them in. My mother has a whole orchid collection by now and she did not buy one of them.

If you have something you don't need anymore, instead of throwing it away, why not give it away? Give either to charities, friends, family, school, etc. or just leave it at a frequently passed spot and write a note for it that says, "Who wants me?" or "Still usable!". Someone will be happy to find it and know he/she can take it as it is there to be taken.

CC Christiansen is a passionate Austrian dumpster diver in her twenties.

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