“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” – Alan Alda
Keeping an open mind about dumpster diving requires two rules.
- Think beyond what you are looking for and be open to what you might find.
- Think creatively about how an item could be used.
So you set out looking for furniture and scrap material for building. But, while digging through a dumpster, you find some DVDs, shoes and brand new office supplies. What do you do? Do you take the items you found and lose some transportation space or do you leave them behind to save room knowing you may or may not find what you set out for in the first place?
Take it, of course! You never know how successful your hunt may be. Consider these surprise finds a consolation prize in case your goal item doesn’t turn up. You can always dispose of them later if you decide you don’t want them or need to free up space.
On that note, we know you may be limited on space, which means you should still pick and choose what you take or leave behind. This is where it is up to you to find balance. We have a great post on deciphering trash from treasure to get you started.
Who doesn’t love Pinterest? It’s the internet’s favorite rabbit hole of inspiration for just about anything. Pinterest is also home to some of the best DIY and repurposing projects out there. So what do the best pins have in common? Creativity.
At first glance, a broken dresser may seem like it deserves to stay in the dumpster. Think again. You could be looking at a beautiful bench or fun play kitchen for kids. Don’t believe a busted acoustic guitar can have a second life? Wrong. It could soon be the most interesting curio display and storage you own.
If you’re not big on DIY and repurposing projects, you can still put items like these to good use. With a quick clean and a few photos, you can post these items for sale. Social media networks and sites like eBay and Craigslist make is easy to find a new homes for project starter pieces.
While we advocate for keeping an open mind, there are still a few guidelines on stuff to avoid. It is usually best to pass on anything wet, trash bags that clearly came from a restroom, unsealed food and dumpsters containing glass.
When it comes to glass, you never know what may have broken, and glass shards can be very dangerous. If you are digging in a dumpster and find glass items, be safe and assume there will be broken glass pieces scattered throughout the dumpster.
Take care if you suspect trash may have come from a bathroom. While sharps disposal is highly regulated, it is best to not assume everyone follows these rules. Used needles and other sanitary products can make their way into bathroom waste, so exercise extra caution.