Good Places to Dumpster Dive

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Since the economy hit a slump in 2008, dumpster diving has become more popular and more widely accepted as a form of urban exploration, rather than an activity performed only by the most downtrodden of our society. The most important aspect of dumpster diving is where to do it, as different places will reveal a wide array of good finds.

Retail Stores

Retail stores.
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Retail stores often throw away slightly damaged or broken clothing, toys and products that can easily be repaired. In some cases, they may also toss items that haven't sold after an excessive amount of time or display merchandise, such as mannequins or shelves.

College Campus Dorms

College dorm.
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At the end of each school year, hundreds, if not thousands, of students move from the school's dorms. In the wake of all this moving, a lot of useful things get tossed, including furniture, clothes and accessories. Any situation where people are moving provides a good opportunity for dumpster diving, but it's generally hard to predict when people are moving, which is why college dorms are so advantageous.


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Bakeries rely on fresh pastries, breads and cookies. As a result, when things don't sell, they often end up in the dumpster. While eating out of the trash is not usually advisable, most bakeries bag up the older baked goods before tossing them, so they are still entirely clean.

Grocery Stores

Grocery store.
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Grocery stores may or may not be good places for dumpster diving depending on what is thrown out that day. When produce is thrown out, it is usually still edible, so if they are on top of the trash and not in contact with any meat or dairy products, you can scavenge them. The best foods for dumpster diving at grocery stores though are processed foods. These foods are usually individually wrapped and have preservatives that keep them fresh long after the expiration date. The stores are required to toss food that has passed its expiration date though, so there are plenty of opportunities to grab processed foods.


Florist shop.
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If you are dumpster diving for a special someone or looking for home decorations, florists are a great place to stop. Florists need the freshest flowers to sell bouquets that last and as a result, they often throw away beautiful flowers that are only a bit past their prime. Find a whole tossed bouquet that didn't sell or put your own together from the individual stems.

Swap Meets

Swap meet.
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When one-time sellers at the swap meet end their day, they frequently choose to toss their unwanted items, rather than lugging them back home. You never know what kind of goodies you will find at the swap meets, but they might include electronics, clothing, movies, home décor, antiques or books. It's always a fun expedition to discover what's available in the swap meet trash.