Tiny House Summer Camp 4

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dumpster Diving for Tiny House and Construction Materials…(and food?)

I’ve done a lil’ divin’ in the past- and read some GREAT (and VERY entertaining) books on the subject too. Truth be told, “dumpster diving” for things other than construction materials isn’t such a far cry from the minset behind “salvage construction” as you’ll see in the attached video. Its truly unbelievable how much gets wasted here in the states. In the tiny housing/small living world, since a good deal of the aim and impetus is to build affordably and “beat the system” to a degree, why not try this? If you’re worried about appearances, do it a night, and if confronted by”authorities”- go to the age old excuse “I’m moving, and was just looking for boxes”. You can always additionally drop some b.s. universal detail too- ie. “I talked to one of your employees the other day and he said it would be fine.”  If they ask for a name, as you’re already in the process of slowly walking away- drop some general name- chances are there is a “Mike” that works there (although you don’t want to get anyone in trouble).
ALSO- the main rule amongst divers, so as not to give them more of a misjudged bad reputation… ALWAYS leave the area cleaner than when you found it! As for yourself, if you’re going to do some true diggin- gloves are a must! A flashlight, and a stick to move and prod things around and aside, a long sleeve shirt, and GOOD rugged shoes are also a very good idea,
If you’ve got any great stories or tips of free dumpster, or curbside find, DO SHARE!
As for myself, I’ve never dived for food- although I’m not opposed to trying it- as most of the things that are tossed ARE perfectly good (as long as you read dates and use some scrutiny). The above youtube clip is based on a pretty decent story on the movement, and just might open your eyes to this avenue of obtaining whatever you might be in search of (in this case- building materials perhaps).
I’ve found hundreds of dollars, thousands even, worth of things on curbsides, and being thrown out behind buildings, and used most of it in my building projects. In other cases, I’ll clean up and sell some of the items on craigslist. I won’t get into details, but the savings can be HUGE, and the side-gig lucrative, if you have the time to pursue it.
Just recently I’ve found….
A full roll of roofing/tar paper, a wooden rocking chair that needed a minor fix (I’ll sell it, or use it in a future cabin I build), A HUGE box full of very expensive toys and action figures (which you can clean and gift to kids, or sell as a lot online), several six-panel pine doors (sold ‘em ALL!), a HUGE, double-pane bay window (which probably cost $1000+ new), SEVERAL double pane windows (which I incorporated into my side-foyer remodel), a tile saw (which worked GREAT- I sold it), an air compressor (worked fine!- gave it to a friend who needed one), and the list goes on….
I also saw a woman (driving a Lexus!) the other week dumpster diving for potted plants (which I hear many do at cemetaries when the maintenance staff discards all the long-standing plants into their dumpsters). This might sound bizarre, but its not like the “residents” are going to complain- and this stuff is being thrown out anyway.
Anyway, its a tangent post, but in terms of location materials for your budget-home or project, its a means to an end that shouldn’t be overlooked AND keep in mind that you’re keeping all this stuff out of landfills!
-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen

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