How To Dumpster Dive.

I’m just gonna get straight into it because I’m not an article writer bloating for clicks and I’m bored.

But Why?

Because it’s fun and you get free shit. And it’s different every time, akin to a treasure hunt. Think about it like a stinky key unboxing except you obtain something of actual value and for free. It saves a lot of money if you are on a tight budget, and companies suck.

Isn’t It Illegal?

Depends on the place you live. Research your local laws for information.

But You’re Stealing!


How Do I Find A Dumpster?

Go onto Google Maps and search for your closest grocery store or whichever other store you desire goods from. Check the satellite view and scout around in street view for dumpsters around the area. They tend to be located near car parks but some stores tuck them away in accessible alleyways.  

Look for stores that are standalone buildings. Stores that are part of larger buildings / metros / shopping centres often have their own compactors or cage off their waste entirely and thus you most likely won’t find anything. 

Go visit the dumpster in person, and take a look inside.

What Time Do I Go?

Check the dumpster several times on different days and at different times – There’s usually one day of the week where the entire dumpster is emptied, and times of the day when items are thrown out (either during open, employee changeovers, or during close).

As for time of day. There are generally several types of cunts:

  1. Insomniacs who are scared of getting caught so they go at night after close.
  2. Tryhards who have a schedule and grab items right as they hit the dumpster.
  3. Those who go in daylight and generally don’t give a fuck (people don’t actually care if you’re diving most the time.)
  4. Filthy casuals who just check the dumpster whenever they pass it.

No one knows what’s best for you, keep visiting and figure out what works and makes you feel comfortable.

What Do I Bring?

  • You need bags, generally more than you might expect. A backpack works well too and is the more comfortable option. 
  • Wear that shirt you impulsively bought 12 months ago and never wore again after realising it wasn’t your taste.
  • Thick, enclosed shoes.
  • A pre-prepared excuse


  • Gloves, if you’re icky about dumpster cooties.
  • Multitool, or pocket knife.
  • Flashlight, the ones that attach to your head are overkill but work quite fine. 
  • Phone, to take your stupid dumpster selfies. Never bring your phone inside the dumpster though or you’ll have a bad time.
  • A high vis jacket and hard helmet if you’re a good liar.
  • A long stick to poke at hard-to-reach items in the bin.
  • Step stool to get access to taller bins.
  • A car, bike, skateboard, or other method of transportation.

What The Hell Do I Do When I’m Actually There?

Walk up to the dumpster. If the lid is closed, prop it open with a piece of wood / milk crate / any other reasonably sized piece of debris or just swing it open if you can (Heads up – this might be loud). Look around for any items of interest. Personally I climb into the dumpster with a step stool and dig through it if it isn’t disgusting or dangerous. If the dumpster is short enough you can just grab anything within arms reach. Cut or open any bags you find.

Rinse and repeat for every dumpster that you find, eventually you’ll find a procedure that works for you.

Be fucking responsible and clean up after yourself. Don’t leave garbage around, and close the lid when you’re done because animals can get stuck. Leaving a mess behind constantly might result in your precious, beautiful dumpster being locked the next time you visit.

Can I Eat XYZ?

Expiry and best before dates aren’t related to food safety.

Our noses are really great at detecting if something is off – give it a sniff, then do a small taste test. All good? Then it’s fine. I don’t hold any liability if you do somehow contract hepatitis though. 

Sugar is naturally preservative – the more sugary something is, the longer it tends to last. Candy bars pretty much don’t expire, and anything air packed (chips, confectionery) tend to be fine too. 

Float eggs to see if they’re still viable.

Check bread for mold.

Meat and milk are usually not the safest unless you live in a colder climate, but it’s optimal if you’re able to grab it immediately, when it hits the bin. Always do the sniff test.

Some people aren’t comfortable with unsealed food. Some people aren’t comfortable with meat or dairy. Do whatever makes you happy, there’s no right or wrong and I can’t be bothered arguing about it.

I Can’t Find Shit!

Be patient and don’t have any expectations. Try to experiment with the places and times that you dive at. Don’t give up if you don’t find anything that day. You’re paying literally 0 dollars for this experience, unless you somehow get arrested…



Leave a comment..?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *