Monthly Archives: March 2013


Check out these shoes a friend found!


The sole is fairly new looking.


I’ve found countless pairs of shoes in the trash, though unfortunately most are not in my size. For some people, a scuff on the toe makes a shoe unwearable. Unbelievable! I remember a time when I was wearing shoes that were so worn the insole was slipping out at the back and snow would fill up in through the hole where the sole was flopping open. I only wish I could have found some “unwearable” shoes then.

When do you consider shoes to be not wearable, and what do you do with them? Have you ever found and worn shoes you found dumpster diving?

I’m a Righteous Dumpster Diver Dude

I get all of my apparel,
From the bottom of a barrel.
Yes, I’m a righteous dumpster diver dude.

I go to Campus every spring,
To look for all of the good things,
That people throw away,
Because they go away.
Yes, I’m a righteous dumpster diver dude.

The end of the college year is here, so this is a great time to refurbish your home! If you’re in Toronto check out the Swap Shop. For those living near other universities, contact them to see if there is any program to deal with unwanted furniture. People often just dump stuff on the side of the road, so try walking or driving around to see what you can find!

– Dumpster Dan

Dumpster Diving Secret

Do you keep your dumpster diving a secret?

If so, is it because you are worried about other people judging you, or do you want the best chance of finding the best stuff, or do you keep it a secret for some other reason?


This is from a website called Postsecret. It’s a compilation of postcards containing secrets which people send in (Trigger warning!)

Do you have a dumpster diving secret? Do tell!

– Dumpster Dan

Dumpster Diving Musical – Surfing the Waste

Yes; there is a dumpster diver musical documentary!


Surfing the Waste is a Montreal based documentary, made for the Worldwide Short Film Fest. The creators did an interview where they talk about their experiences and thoughts.

“When it comes to the general consumer and the average person, I don’t think they realize how much has gone to waste, and they might not even realize how much they throw out on a daily basis… I wish people would be a lot more aware of what they are throwing out, what can be recycled and what can be reused.”

– Dumpster Dan

Blending and Breaking Class Boundaries

Dumpster Diving is something done by all different types of people – middle aged, middle class people who dumpster dive between putting the kids to bed and going to the gym before work; students who call themselves broke after depleting their bank account padded by their parents on one (or more) too many benders at the bar; artists who salvage stuff for projects; and people who take what they need from the side of the street because, other than relying on drop-ins or other forms of charity, that is their only way of obtaining it

Jarrod explains this disparity in this Vice article. “For the privileged, dumpster diving is an easy way to eat well and work fewer hours. For the unemployed and underemployed, it can be one of their only dependable food sources.”

The reasons may be different, but the similarities are greater than anything else – whether you engage in dumpster diving out of necessity or do it as a consciously political act, both are political since we are all bound by the same constraints of capitalism; some of us just experience it in more overtly visible ways.

“Food Not Bombs faces harassment by police and city officials all over the country because their food distribution carts attract homeless people and make them comfortable—the exact opposite of modern urban policy, which uses the hunger and discomfort of the homeless against them, to get them to simply go somewhere else.”

When it’s apparent that capitalism isn’t working – seeing someone on the side of the street wearing holey canvass sneakers and a dirty windbreaker in below zero weather digging through a dumpster – it makes people uncomfortable, and often the response is to remove them from the public view.

I have a unique ‘gaze’ since, while I grew up in a working class home I have some family members who are wealthy. I am an artist working sporadically in the non-profit sector, and while I’m not starving I’m sometimes hungry. When I see people who are clearly in need of help, I’ll let them know where I saw a pair of shoes or when the Asian grocery pushes their garbage cart into the alley. Often the response is one of dismissal – at first it made me upset, but now I realize they may view me as a ‘wealthy’ person. It not only made me ‘check’ my privilege, but I noticed that I react in a similar way when I see people I read as upper or middle class dumpster diving.


What do you do when you see someone else dumpster diving who appears to be from a different socioeconomic background than you?

Trashcam Project

Garbage collectors in Germany have affixed cameras to their trash cans to make a trashcam!


Here’s a self-portrait of the photo taker. The camera is a pinhole one, which is why he is able to be in his own photo. It took six minutes to develop, meaning he had to stand still for that long.

Check out more of the Trashcam Project here

– Dumpster Dan

Tech Trash

I came across this Wired entry from 1997 about Tech Trash.

“In less than an hour, I’ve seen literally tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, most of it too low on the dollars-to-volume graph to bother with. All of it in the trash.”

It seems things have not changed much.

I have many memories – albeit memories addled by alcohol – of smashing stuff I’ve seen on the side of the street. I wouldn’t recommend doing this since it ruins things other people might want, causes a mess to clean up for those working or living nearby, and might bring more police attention to the area. It just shows how much unneeded and unwanted stuff there is, where the only thought that goes through peoples minds (the Wired entry tells a story of people breaking stuff as well) is to throw it on the pavement.

A friend and I had a project going on where we made a Linux-run computer completely out of found materials. I moved before we completed it, but it is very doable. The political statement made from creating a completely free computer with a legally free operating system is something powerful.

computer dumpster

What interesting electronics have you found?

– Dumpster Dan