Dumpster Diving

Frugalists Use Society’s Trash

Frugalists hate to see waste and find plenty of places to score the stuff they need. “You just have to know where to look,” they advise. Some scoop items up off the curb, attend organized giveaway events and browse Internet posts such as Freecycle.org. Others peruse catalogs, and then locate what they want at local thrift shops. Self-proclaimed frugans search dumpsters behind food stores.

“If Americans didn’t demand pristine produce and bread baked fresh daily, there would be little for dumpster divers to find,” observes MSNBC.com reporter Allison Linn. “And, if we didn’t lust for new couches long before the old springs had gone soft, and new jeans, months before the current ones had developed holes, there would be little for thrift store aficionados and garage sale lovers to buy.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce an average of 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day—nearly a ton a year. We all create tons of bargains for those willing to take a second look at our consumer culture.

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