What treasure lies beneath the depths?
You’ll find lots of produce behind a grocery store, junk food and trinkets behind a dollar store, and piles of fresh, sequential bills behind a bank (obviously). Oftentimes the haul is predictable, but there’s always room for a surprise. It’s a mystery why pharmacies throw out perfectly good medicines, bandages, shampoos, soaps, etc., but they do. Bakeries throw out good breads and bagels every day. We’ve seen hauls that included a 55gal garbage bag that was half-full with unopened Halloween candy, 30 bottles of Sunny Delight, and a beautiful wooden armoire. Such claims may seem incredible; but, however wondrous, they are true.
Everything that once was comes to an end
A 2008 study performed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that in North America, 12% of vegetable and fruit crops are lost in the distribution stage. Oftentimes, stores throw out perishable foods because there’s simply no room on the shelves. Additionally, you’ll find that most foods are not labeled with an “expiration date,” because the FDA does not require them (baby food is one exception). Instead, they’ll be tagged with a “sell by” or “best by” date, which many believe are meant to scare consumers into prematurely tossing out food. In the winter, the dumpster can keep things as fresh as a refrigerator. Generally, as with most things in life, it’s best to use common sense. Mold is bad. If something smells bad, that’s not a good sign. A bulging bag means that something may be fermenting inside. Produce can always be cleaned, pared, and boiled. Overripe tomatoes may not taste great but you can throw them at prisoners who are occupying the stocks in the town square. You know, basic stuff.
Time and tide wait for no man
The key to a successful dumpster dive usually comes down to timing. Looking for furniture? It’s actually quite easy to furnish most of your apartment for free if you scour the alleys on the last weekends of the month from June to August, which are the busiest moving months. May can also offer a bountiful haul because many households do their annual spring cleaning and throw out a lot of “junk.” Do you see a weekend yard sale on your block? Check the household’s dumpster the next day and get the unsold items for free. Perhaps the biggest goldmine is college move-out dates. You can check the schedules for Loyola, DePaul, UIC, etc., and show up when most of the campus is emptying out before summer. Many students live out of state and leave behind a treasure trove of microwaves, lamps, and Fight Club posters.