Monthly Archives: June 2013

Urban Foraging

I came across the term Urban Foraging and thought it was a really good definition.

Surf The Waste, urban foraging, dumpster diving

From “Surf The Waste”

“Dumpster Diving” describes the act of, well, going into dumpsters – but I think “Urban Foraging” goes deeper.

Foraging is a form of free re-distribution of found items, and in this context it is placed into the city/urban landscape. We can’t go looking for berries in the woods like bears, but we can still take advantage of our surroundings and the results other peoples negative behaviours of excess consumption – “trash” on the side of the road and in dumpsters which is wearable and edible.

What do you think of the term Urban Foraging?


With students moving out and the summer heat approaching, you may see more furniture along the side of the road – but with the hotter weather and people moving around, there is also a greater possibility of picking up those little bugs you probably heard about (and hopefully have never had to deal with personally!)

dumpster diving, bedbugs

Bedbugs are a big problem! But there are some ways you can protect yourself:

– Do not take large items which cannot be washed or dry cleaned. Bedbugs are very hard to kill! Treatment for bedbugs usually includes washing all clothing and using high powered steam hoses on stuff like couches.

– If you do take something larger like a wooden desk, keep it outside (in the alleyway, backyard or garage which isn’t connected to the home) until you can inspect it. Be mindful that bedbugs are small and can be hard to see, especially when they aren’t fully grown or fed. Bedbug eggs can take a few weeks to hatch, so even if you don’t see any bugs it does not mean there might not be some eggs on the item.

Attention – Crushing!

dumpster diving, binning, german

This dumpster diving sign is in German, and translates to “attention – crushing!”

Some safety tips:
– If you’re dumpster diving, especially by yourself, flip the lid fully open and make sure it’s not able to flip closed.
– If possible, don’t climb inside the bin fully. If you do climb inside while binning, remember to wear steel toed boots or the thickest soled shoes you have (no canvass shoes, and especially no sandals!)
– Whether you go into the bin or root around from the sidewalk, always bring a flashlight. It’s not only safer, but also helps you find the best food.

Anxiety about Dumpster Diving

Having anxiety about dumpster diving is common. There is some negative social stigma attached to binning, and unfortunately sometimes even legal repercussions.

dumpster diving

Some people find going dumpster diving with their friends helps reduce anxiety. You don’t want a huge group, which can create unwanted attention, but one or two friends should be okay. It’s also a good way to be able to carry more food, and to share stuff you don’t like or can’t finish eating before it will go bad with others – trade a bunch of bananas for a bag of lettuce, or some apples for carrots. Now you have salad and your friend has a fruit salad!

If you’re concerned about being approached by store staff or being seen by others, try going dumpster diving at night time. This is no guarantee that you will not be “caught” but your chances can be reduced. Know your rights! In many areas, it is not illegal to go through trash, but you might still be ticketed for littering if stuff is spilled outside of the dumpster.

Have you had anxiety about dumpster diving? What have you tried to do or found successful in helping you overcome fears about dumpster diving?

Stay Out!

Last week on my regular binning excursion, I encountered a store that had used thick plastic thread to tie green bins shut. A friend, who thankfully brought a lighter, burnt the thread so I could take a look (I guess adding “scissors” to the list of supplies to bring is a good idea!) inside and the bin was empty!

dumpster diving, binning

“Stay Out” says this garbage – dumpster diving not allowed!

Do you ever have issues when you’re dumpster diving?