Dumpster Diving Becoming More Popular Among "Freegans"

Dumpster Diving Becoming More Popular Among "Freegans"

OMAHA (KPTM)- Many of us think of garbage as a one and done kind of thing. You put something in it and you don't take it out. But some people have a different philosophy. They are choosing to live off of what they find in dumpsters.

"If someone's going to give you something for free, you're not going to be like, no I'd rather go buy it," Kristy said.

Sometimes that even includes something to eat.

"I'm more particular about food. I'm not so desperate that I'm going to eat an opened bag of chips. I would only be looking for things that are closed." In the past, she has pulled out whole boxes of granola bars, bread and even bananas.

There is a whole world online where people who call themselves freegans gather. They post their finds and what specific stores they've had luck in. Believe it or not, there is a strategy behind digging through dumpsters. Freegans say dorm and apartment bins are good targets.

"You can find stuff for your house. I have two end tables, ands my coffee table and my office chair. I have like three lamps that I just took out of dumpsters"

We followed Kristy on her dive. She found a board game and an area rug. It is something that can go for well over a hundred bucks brand new.

Some people will turn to dumpsters to lighten the load on their wallets. Others say it's a way to fight back against consumerism. Others like Kristy, are trying to help the environment while helping herself.

"I'm trying to conserve as much as I can because the landfills are filling up with so much junk. That just seems ridiculous to me that our society is doing that, letting all this junk pile up and go to waste when there are so many people who don't have anything."

Some businesses might not appreciate you going through their dumpsters. That's why a lot of them put locks on the bins. But most of the owners we talked to said they didn't mind. They just ask that anything you're not taking with you gets put back when you're done.

"There are some safety issues too. They could cut their fingers, they could have a risk of tetanus from a cut. They could find wild animals in the bins, you know, raccoons like to dig through trash and raccoons carry rabies," Dr. Anne O'Keefe with the Douglas County Health Department said.

There are also health issues. Some bacteria that could be swimming in trash can't be washed or cooked away and people could get sick.

City attorneys say there aren't any legal issues with dumpster diving as long as you're not trespassing. But they warn people to stay out of recycling bins. Once something lands in there, it becomes city property and it's illegal to take it. Lawyers say the city brings in over a million dollars a year from recycling.