She Said–The Art, Etiquette, and Rules of Dumpster Diving

Rule #1:  Drive s-l-o-w-l-y on trash day.

Rule #2:  Carry dive equipment in the car at all times–bungee cords, gloves, kids to carry the find, hand-sanitizer.

Rule #3:  Wear dark sunglasses and baseball cap when you are in the neighborhood of a non-diving friend.

Rule #4:  Refrain from mentioning diving finds at your child’s piano recitals, food events, funerals, and when guests are over for dinner.

Rule #5.  When you arrive at a Dive Site and there is already another Diver there, be polite–especially if you are wearing open-toed espadrills.  General greetings and pleasantries about the Dive Site are appropriate.  Complement the other Diver on his/her find; then stub your toe.  Refuse aid from the other Diver except to mention the treasure you are collecting.  Diver will probably be willing to remove the treasures for you.

Dive Site:  demolished liquor store

Find:  old wooden pop bottle crates.

New use for find: Gardening organizers.  Would like to use as a tray, but don’t have room in the kitchen

Value of find:  happiness every time I grab my gardening gloves.

Amount of work required:  Hunni took the working parts off 6, and made me 3 “new” ones.

Rule #6:  If you would like the manual to go with the find, knock on the Disposers door.

Dive Site:  neighbor

Find:  carpet cleaner

New use for:  our carpets

Value of find: +/- $300.00

Amount of work required:  Minimal.  Rinse cycle kept dispensing soap.  Just remove soap dispenser when rinsing.

Rule #7:  At apartment complexes, many residents acknowledge the art of diving and leave treasures outside the dumpster for easy removal.  Contact your local Diving Association for co-operating sites.

Dive sight:  Florida apartment complex

Find:  country-oak kitchen stool

New use for:  kid’s kitchen stool

Value of find: $10.00

Amount of work required:  three coats of black paint

Rule #7:  Finds must be able to be repaired by yourself or your Hunni.  Too many Finds in the garage will irritate the Hunni.  Limit yourself to 3 Fix-it Finds unless you make homemade sweet rolls.  Mention the additional Fix-it Find after the second bite.  Mention additional option of homemade bread if the Hunni shows vexation.  Smile sweetly.  Swing hips while walking away…be careful not to knock anything over as this tends to dampen the effect.

Dive sites:  two different neighbors on trash day

Find:  two different push mowers

New use for:  character development tool for the kids to keep them busy during the summer.

Value of find:  priceless lessons learned

Amount of work required:  general small engine repairs by The Hunni.  General sweet roll making knowledge by the Queen of the house.

Rule #8:  Diving while on vacation is not recommended.  Exceptions apply (See Diver’s Guide to Proper Manangement–Section 32–Paragraph B–Article II) when the value of the Find outweighs the consternation of having to carry the Find home in a van already too full with kids and luggage and crushed Cheerios.

Dive site:  five-star Marriot Resort in western Michigan

Find:  log cabin lumber

New use for:  tree fort

Value of find:  childhood memories–priceless

Amount of work required:  two weeks of Hunni-labor and many trips to Home Depot for additional wood and parts

Rule #10:  Most wooden finds can be power-washed, sanded, and then painted a neutral color to be considered a Fantastic Find by any fellow Diver.

Dive site:  along side of the road on trash day.

Find:  old, very germy-looking, wooden door

New use for find:  door to basement play area

Amount of work required:  much wearing of rubber gloves as it was so dirty, much power washing, much scraping and sanding, much elbow grease–do not attempt while pregnant.

Rule #11:  Remember to see the Find in pieces.  Sometimes the piece is worth more than the whole.

Dive site:  neighbors yard on trash day

Find:  old country-oak table with legs

New use for find:  legs were used on this architect’s drafting table to create a kitchen table.  The table top was used in the garage as a work bench.

Value of find:  new kitchen table $400.00

Amount of work required:  not much–sanded and painted table legs.  Mounted table top on old cabinets and add wheels. 

Rule #12:  Peel veneers off Finds.  Avoid anything plastic.  Reject all stuffed furniture.

Dive site:  neighbors yard on trash day

Find:  computer desk

New use for:  computer desk

Value of find:  the joy of having a desk on which to type

Amount of work required:  peeled off torn plastic “fake marble veneer”.  Hunni glued the legs back on and painted on a clear coat.

Rule #13:  Do not get angry at the neighbor kids if they break a Find.  Remember that it was free.  Hold thou thy tongue if they jump off thy gate during neighborhood games of Kick-the-Can.

Find:  old wooden gate

Rule #14:  Pass on the legacy of Diving to your children by involving them.  Allow them to scout, discover, and re-create.  Don’t fail them in this fundamental learning.  Begin next trash day.

Find: old ugly stool.  Sugar and Spice painted it pink.

Your Friend the Dumpster Diver,


P.S.  I tried to locate the book “Diver’s Guide to Proper Management” on Amazon so that I could provide you a blue link on which to click, however, it appears that it is currently out of print.  My advice would be to keep an eye out for it in your local dumpsters.

P.P.S.  Don’t tell The Hunni, but I found another treasure!!! I usually don’t break the news until his second day home.

I didn’t dare post this picture in color.  Nobody would ever come visit me again, it I had posted a color picture.

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10 Responses to She Said–The Art, Etiquette, and Rules of Dumpster Diving

  1. Mom and Dad Whit says:

    Talk about ingenuity! Hilarious!


  2. Bel McCoy says:

    So resourceful!!! You sure stretch your 24 hours a day…..


  3. bethany says:

    We’re charter members of the club I think, kids have been trained since before they were walking. Bklyn is a fabulous diving spot, as is manhattan. Most of what we have is made from finds, and thoroughly enjoyed. Love your list and finds!


  4. Gwen says:

    Great post! I LOVE BARGAINS…especially dumpster diving ones! So tell me…have you ever brought something home that you totally regretted?! I picked up a large comforter in a bag on the street corner one time while riding my bike. It looked in excellent condition from the outside. When I opened it up at home there was a huge stained area from pets. Ugh! I did try taking it to the laundry mat to wash it but the stain was permanent. Back to the dumpster it went. Didn’t win on that one!


  5. caryl says:

    hilarious and motivating!!!


  6. Lisa Buchanan says:

    Sadly, mothering has tempered my dumpster diving. I just don’t have the time like I used to. However, I remember the excitement of a new find very well and you’ve brought it all back by this post. I think I’ll have to make it more of a priority. Thanks!


    • whitsendmom says:

      Just heard you were in L’ville a.k.a. Buchananville. You are a brave and advernureous soul. Hope the train ride was more fun than educational.


  7. Kathy Tanner says:

    I am totally lost on this one. I mean, why did I just see the email post? this is dated last year. But do you really do this dumpster dive activity? Don’t tell anyone, but Darrell told me he was involved in a similar activity and almost didn’t make it back out. all for a piece of wood!
    I think I better go to bed. It is already tomorrow.
    Sleep tight,

    May 26
    Proverbs 26:20 Where there is no whisperers contention quiets down.
    ( speak the truth in love )


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