Dumpster Diving Divas and Dudes

aired: 3/22/09

“Spring Clean up” trash day has come and you may notice a plethora of large items curbside in your neighborhood: furniture, toys, clothing, art supplies (everything is an art supply if you ask me).  In light of this occasion, I invited dear friends (and fellow scavengers) Joey “Milt” Risch and Erin Givarz on the show to discuss the basic how-to of salvaging and to share with you some upcoming events that encourage diverting the waste stream.

On April 18th, from 2-5pm, the CAFO (411 E Jefferson St) will be hosting Erin’s biannual clothing swap, and because of the excess of space available at this residence, what is normally an exchange of clothing and accessories will now be extended to any freecycle item you’d like to clear out, but not throw out.

Another event to keep in mind as you hunt for reusable items is the Tom Thumb art show that will be on April 3rd and 4th at the Washington School at Florence St and Harrison St.  Anyone can submit a piece (including performance) and there are plenty of cans of paint, wood scraps, screens, cloth, and miscellaneous treasures in the dump that can be used creatively to show off your reclaiming skills.  Erin suggested making a quilt or rug made from old t-shirts, which could also serve very practical purposes.

Google’s wiki how page on dumpster diving defines the act as a sport, a fun activity for those who value frugality, and a socially and environmentally (and politically)

dumpsterdiving2xx1responsible way of life.   By saving items from a landfill, you are essentially making a statement that one need not buy into the capitalist, consume-and-waste culture that has contributed to global environmental injustices.

Landfills (or Sea-fills) have become hazardous to many a community, and burning trash can be just as dangerous.  For a great description of the way our resources affect us all (including non-human species!), check out “the story of stuff”: thestoryofstuff.com Dumpster diving keeps alive the old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

We discussed tips listed on google’s page for dumpster divers throughout the show and I hope you’ll add to these in the comment box should you think of more:

-know your local laws:    if dumpster diving is illegal, be sure to do it stealthily.

-get over the grime factor:    remember that items you take home can be washed and cleaned, so don’t fear a little dirt or an unsightly stain- there’s always hope for an unwanted item.

-network with other divers:    going with friends isn’t just a safe idea, it makes diving that much more fun, and sharing items with fellow divers when you find bulk is a generous way to give back to the community.

-find hot spots:    Joey recommends scouting for easy access bins, and prefers business diving over domestic because of the political statement it makes, and because most often, businesses throw out a lot more perfectly usable (and delicious) items than do residences.  Cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, department stores; it’s all fair game.

-be there at the right time and place:    if you get to a grocer after days of food has been piled, you’re less likely to find fresh items, though Joey and I can both attest that food is often still sealed, and many times just one or two days past expiration.  Just rinse it off and enjoy!  Also, pay attention to trash days so you can scout the night before a big collection.

-wear the right gear:    thick gloves are always a good idea, because who knows what could be lurking in the trash- needles are dangerous and you should always watch out, especially when scavenging at night.  A flashlight can be helpful (even during the day), and long pants and sleeves are important to avoid exposure to moldy stinky stuff.  Be ready to get dirty.

-Be smooth:    A friend once suggested to me to wear a white apron when diving at grocery stores so that if a cop drives by, you just look like an employee.  Having friends along to keep watch is also helpful.  Don’t make a lot of noise.

-Clean up after yourself and dispose of anything you decide not to use responsibly:    If you leave the place littered with trash, you’ve not fulfilled the socially and environmentally responsible aspect of dumpster diving.  Put the lid back on the dumpster and collect any items that may be laying around.  A good site to find out about how to dispose of things properly is http://earth911.com/

And for those more curious about a “freegan” lifestyle, stay tuned to environmentality- one of the upcoming shows will be devoted to the topic!


~ by hannahlh on March 24, 2009.

One Response to “Dumpster Diving Divas and Dudes”

  1. I’m so sorry to have missed the show — I live in Columbia and couldn’t get the darned download to play!!! C’mon people, you’ve got fans outside Kirksville. Take care of us.
    Now, re the diving and public health aspect. I’m all for frugality, but dirty diapers (child and adult), anything with blood (used menstrual products) and needles (type 2 diabetes is on the rise) are RISKY for Hepatitis C, not to mention a whole host of illnesses. So…do wear the gloves. Thick gloves and don’t just dive in there. You can get a needle prick anywhere on your body. Being resourceful is one thing, being stupid can leave you dead.
    Think safety first always.

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