There are no hard and fast rules as to when to stop the car for a dumpster dive. Determining where to stop (or not to stop) the car for a dumpster dive usually depends on various factors. This is was learned after years of dumpster diving. Suggestions as to when to stop the car for a dumpster dive include:
Determine what you are looking for
Stop the car at any dumpster if you are dumpster diving just to see what you can find. If you are in it for the sport and are looking for anything “interesting”, then pull up next to any dumpster. It is best to look for one that is full and you can spend time searching through it instead of driving around and wasting time going from dumpster to dumpster. Stop the car at specific dumpsters if you are going to dumpster dive for particular items. Drive to the residential area or commercial buildings that might have what you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for carpet for a room in your home or office, decide if it must be residential quality carpeting or if you would settle for office quality carpeting. Drive around to find a home, apartment building or commercial office building that is being renovated or someone is moving in. It is very likely that the carpeting from the old office has been thrown into the dumpster. Stop the car at particular supermarket and other food store dumpsters if you are looking for packaged fresh food. This might seem gross to people who don’t dumpster dive, but this is a great source of good food. Food stores are not allowed to sell food that is past the “expiration date”, but the food is fine.
Location, location, location
Stop the car at dumpsters in “better” neighborhoods. People who have money replace home furnishings more often than people from socio-economic groups. They are more likely to toss out their old stuff into dumpsters than to take the time to give them away or sell them. Stop the car at dumpsters where there are estate sales. Whatever isn’t sold might wind up in the dumpster. Those are the best dumpsters for finding home furnishings, appliances and other treasures that no one else wanted. They might be treasures to you. Stop the car at dumpsters that are close to where there is a “major trash day” (when the waste management comes around picking up “large” trash). People might have tossed their stuff into dumpsters instead of leaving it out in front of their house/building. Stop the car at dumpsters that are close to where a yard sale had taken place that day. People might have tossed their stuff into dumpsters if they don’t know what else to do with it. Stop the car at dumpsters that are being used for home remodeling. There is often a lot of building materials such as old appliances, doors and windows that might be of interest to a savvy dumpster diver.
Suggestions as to when NOT to stop the car for a dumpster dive
Do not stop the car for a dumpster dive that has hazardous materials. Do not stop the car for a dumpster dive when there is a sign that prohibits you from going through the dumpster. Do not stop the car for a dumpster dive if you might be interfering with whoever owns (or is renting) the dumpster. Be careful stopping the car for a dumpster that is around construction sites. There can be nails, broken glass or other broken objects that can damage your tires. Also, construction site dumpsters might be off limits. It is possible that the materials can still be used and you might be caught “stealing”. Don’t bother to stop the car around dumpsters that have a lot of trash around them. Someone has already picked through it. If you’re not looking for food, avoid restaurant and food store (supermarket) dumpsters. Do not stop the car for a dumpster dive if you don’t feel safe. It isn’t worth it.
Last of all, if you haven’t gone dumpster diving, you should try it out. Just follow the guidelines above to find a good dumpster. Go with a friend or two. Put on some old clothes, wear sturdy shoes, bring gloves and stop your car at a dumpster. Have fun!