The Dirt on Dumpster Diving

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.


I am out of town, and Kristi, from MoreThanCents, shared this great article with me. I wanted to pass it along to all of you as well!!

Just the mention of the words “Dumpster Diving” makes many cringe but I’ve got inkling I’m not the only Dumpster Diving Coupon Clipper. While the thought of pulling anything from a dumpster may make many of you think of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe it’s hardly as down and dirty as it sounds.

The inside of a newspaper recycling bin is actually rather clean as the only contents are supposed to be newspapers and other approved paper goods. I say supposed to be because I’ve found a few things while dumpster diving that don’t belong in the bins like cardboard, phone books and my most unusual find was a ghetto blaster straight out of the 80’s!

Another thing I often see in the paper bins are loads of personal mail. I bring this up as a reminder of the importance of removing personal data when you put things like mail, magazines, etc into the recycling bins. While my intentions at the recycling bin are good some other individuals may not have the same good intentions so take a moment to protect yourselves before you recycle paper products.

If you are like me, you take items with you to the recycling bin to replenish what you have taken as many recycling bins are used for fundraising. When you are finished pulling the inserts from the bin before you toss your goods inside, you need to be sure you are protecting you and your family. Make sure that any pertinent information is removed when you discard magazines, mail (yes, even your junk mail) and any other approved goods that may include personal data. Pull off the cover or at least remove your name and address from magazines. Shred, cut up or black out account numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers, etc prior to taking your items to the recycling bin. Most recycling bins are easily accessible so you want to ensure that your information is not being picked up by a different kind of dumpster diver.

Before you run out and begin dumpster diving it is important that you know how your local laws apply to it. The last thing you want is a ticket or fine for trespassing, invasion of privacy, etc. Once you have the all clear you are ready to experience the art of dumpster diving. Dumpster diving to add to your coupon quantity is quite simple; all you do is sift through the recycling bin contents searching for the Sunday supplements.

While many individuals think that you actually have to dive in, I never have and I usually obtain plenty of inserts in a few minutes just from reaching in from the outside of the bin. Since I’m quite tall and have been dumpster diving for coupon inserts for awhile, I can gauge which days are good days for me to go and be able to reach the contents of the dumpster.

I’m not like the “dedicated dumpster divers” who own a full blown “dumpster diving kit” including a step stool, gopher or other tool you can grasp and move items with, towel for the hot days as the metal gets extremely hot and other items to make retrieving items from the bin easier. What I do take with me is a bag to place the inserts I find in and wipes or a hand sanitizer to use when I’m finished. I also always make sure that when I leave the area, it is as clean as or cleaner than when I arrived. I close the lids on any of the bins that I opened and I pick up any items that fell or blew out and return them to the bin.

As you see dumpster diving is really easy and once you reap the benefits of it a few times I’m sure that you too will be hooked.

Below is a photo of my most recent dumpster dive. It was a very short dive as I was really there just to drop off some old papers and magazines as my son’s school has two bins on the school grounds for fundraising. Both bins were filled to the brim as the next day they would be emptied so this was a nice quick dive, less than ten minutes total.

So I ask you fellow frugalites always on the prowl to save a buck, do you extend your frugality to obtaining more Sunday supplements? If not, why?

About the Author: I am Kristi, and I started my site, MoreThanCents, about a year ago when I became addicted to coupons. It was more out of necessity that we started to use them after the birth of our twin daughters. Buying diapers, formula, wipes, clothing and other bare necessities really forced us to rethink our finacial strategy. I am a SAHM, and stretching our income out to support our 4 kids became paramount. My passion for saving a few dollars and collecting ECB’s at CVS turned into saving money at every store we could find! I don’t even let my husband go to the store unless he has coupons sorted and in hand!


Like what you read here? If so, subscribe via e-mail or RSS Reader. You can also catch me on Twitter too!