More Adventures In Dumpster Diving
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Last night we were on a walk and came across some trash sitting on the side of the street. Along with the trash there were ten vintage kid-size metal folding chairs just sitting there. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Yes!

Eight of the little chairs were white and two of them were yellow. They definitely need to be sprayed down and they could even use a fresh coat of paint (so many color options! wouldn’t they look cute in a super light pink!?). But they are solid and I started thinking of all the things I could do with them. Mainly, trying to sell them to make some extra coin (I just found a whole slew of vintage kid-size folding chairs for sale on Etsy!). So I picked up a few of the chairs and got my husband to grab some too (to say that he wasn’t as excited about them as I was would be an understatement).

It’s been a little while since I went Dumpster Diving so I was a little hesitant. Should I have asked the homeowners if they would mind if I took the chairs or was it okay to just take them? I figured since they were sitting by the trash they were fair game. What do you think?

Also interesting: Dumpster Diving and the law

Have you ever gone Dumpster Diving? If so, what was your best find?


in Make More Money, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do


  1. Biz // June 11, 2012

    I do dumpster dive! My hubby normally feels a little weird about it, but our best find yet is a coffee table that we are revamping for our back porch. When we are done it'll be black with a chalkboard paint top! Perfect for doodling while having drinks with friends ;)

  2. Rich // June 12, 2012

    I grew up in northern NJ, just across the river from Manhattan. AS kids, we loved "garbage night", when everyone put their trash out for pick-up. People threw away the most amazing things. Perfectly good furniture, radios, toys, etc. We loved roaming the neighborhoods looking for treasures. Whenever we go back for a visit, I still find it amazing that people throw away perfectly good items. And it's still fun to wander about to treasure hunt. In general though, we don't really dumpster dive anymore. Not because we are too proud but mainly because we have too much stuff in our lives already. However, if we see an item we can use, we'll pick it up.

  3. Jenn // June 12, 2012

    Great find!!
    My latest "free find" wasn't exactly in the dumpster, but I was able to score an old pallet from my school that will soon become decorative art in my dining room. Just a little paint and some creative stenciling and we will have a beautiful piece for pennies!

  4. Jen // June 13, 2012

    I live in Germany and here when people have a clear out or move, they pile all their rubbish on the street and call the council to take it away, the only thing is most of it is gone before the council get there as it is perfectly normal for people passing by to take things, it's expected and accepted. Once it's on the street, it's fair game – good for you!

  5. meg // June 14, 2012

    those are so beyond cute!!

  6. Anna Newell Jones // June 14, 2012

    I know right!?!!?? That's what I was trying to tell Aaron!

  7. Jennifer // June 15, 2012

    I have not seen many trash piles with good items to find a new home for. I always want to though. Especially when I see posts like this. Please show us what you do with them, even if you sell them!

  8. Anna Newell Jones // June 15, 2012

    I definitely will! What do you think? Like a glossy cotton candy pink?

  9. MelbourneGirl // June 18, 2012

    The local councils of the suburbs around me actually fine people if they are caught taking from the sidewalk – the logic is that once the rubbish is on the nature strip, it belongs to the council. So the council picks it up and then puts ridiculously high prices on it at their "recycle centres".

    Moral of the story: don't get caught!

  10. Anna Newell Jones // June 18, 2012

    Whoa! I've never heard of that happening before! That's nuts! (Hopefully the US doesn't get any of those ideas)

  11. Sarah E // January 10, 2013

    I dumpster dive our local private university every year on graduation weekend when students are moving out of the dormitories. This is by far the most profitable dumpster diving I have ever done. A large portion of my wardrobe, some of my furniture, and even some of my electronics are all dumpster-scores. In addition, we often get enough food to last my husband and I a month or more, and I have not purchased shampoo, conditioner, or laundry detergent in at least four years.

  12. DJP // February 10, 2013

    I’m a little late reading this post. I have just been following links from other sites and found you. I have two best finds, an oriental rug with little wear behind a house in Beverly Hills and a fully automated recliner with heat, massage and a place to plug in another device hidden in the arm of the chair which was sitting curbside in the Hollywood Hills. I drove past it for two days before stopping, going to the door to speak to the homeowner, and after receiving permission, taking the chair for a handicapped friend. The only thing wrong with the chair was that it had paint flecks on the back from not being covered correctly during painting. By the way, the flecks rubbed off.

  13. Nicki // February 24, 2013

    The best find I’ve ever had is my bicycle: a working mountain bike that is going for around $300 used on the internet. I just had to fix one break and pump the tires. What were they thinking throwing it out?!

  14. Marie Vlasic // March 23, 2013

    I love dumpster diving! Free shopping is the best shopping. Just a couple weeks ago we found a fully functional 30gb ipod in the trash (and some nice games too) while walking the dogs. We find fun stuff all the time!

  15. Sarah // March 25, 2013

    I have not had any dumpster diving experience however my friend happened to be walking by as an office center was cleaning out their old technology. He scored and whole new computer with speakers.

  16. mary // March 27, 2013

    the best dumpster diving is at the end of a college year in may – everyone’s too busy with finals to be packing up their stuff and figuring out how to store it or get it home, and there are piles of great dorm stuff all over campus! i went to a private school where students buying new stuff every year and tossing it to the curb in may was the norm. crazy!

  17. Russell Matthews // April 18, 2013

    If there is something you need or could use in someones trash, go for it. Look for decent furniture, so many people toss out older furniture but it’s great for son’s/daughters and cousins who may be moving to school, or into their first home! Find value anywhere!

  18. Slackerjo // June 12, 2013

    Considering that about 85% of the furniture in my apt is from the garbage/free-cycle (that does not include the 30+ loads I took to the charity shops since I have no more room) I love dumpster and curb diving. Still, that being said, it does bother me that society is so lazy/indifferent about tossing perfectly good items into the landfill. I often wonder what our ancestors would think at such waste!!! I wish there were more public pressure to make it sociably unacceptable to toss good stuff in the garbage. This might be a case where peer pressure to donate usable items rather than leave them for the garbage truck and the landfill would be a good thing.

    • Anna Newell Jones // June 13, 2013

      I completely agree with you- our ancestors would SO outraged! I think one way we can change people’s opinions on Dumpster Diving and re-using is to talk about how we are doing it. It will make it more acceptable in people’s eyes and people won’t be so weirded out by it. Also, I think there will always be people who want the newest and best and that’s their deal. I think it’s a super waste or resources and money but we can really only control ourselves and do what we can in our own lives you know.

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