Dumpster diving: More worth than all the trouble, apparently

Every now and then, there are some really good ideas that come to light in motion pictures. One that I thought was a good one came from the movie The Blind Side.

In that, the son – S.J., short for Sean, Jr. – of the main family portrayed in that production, in one scene is sitting in the car with his family, who, at the time as it happens is curious about the disposition of prepared but left uneaten food getting thrown away at the fast-food establishments his dad – presumably, Sean Sr. – owns, S.J. then going on to suggest that this discarded food be donated for a worthy cause – to help feed the homeless, perhaps? I’d be curious to know that who of the many viewers who’ve seen The Blind Side picked up on this. Good ideas coming forth, and in places not ordinarily thought of. Imagine that!

Then there are the bad practices that surface in cinematic productions as well.

In the opening scene in the movie Hoosiers, if I recall correctly, it is here where the viewing audience member sees an automobile driving along some street in the Hoosier State – Indiana. At any rate, off to the side of that street is shown a pile of either burning or smoldering leaves. Relatedly, what I now recollect from my past, in my home town – Baltimore – a regular fixture was this now looked-down-upon practice taking place in autumn.

In addition, in one episode of the hit television show Blue Bloods, Donnie Walberg – who plays character Detective Danny Reagan – is shown emptying the contents of a trash can – presumably belonging to, in this particular case, a person of interest being questioned by the detective, part of his investigation looking into a related crime – onto a part of the person of interest’s front lawn, all in the name of Reagan attempting to locate a key piece of incriminating evidence. What I remember is that after the incriminating evidence was recovered, the trash can contents were just left in place, the presumption being that the driver of a garbage truck – driver and truck both in the scene at this point in time – was the person left holding the bag, so to speak, you know, the one who, in all likelihood, cleaned the mess up. I, as a viewer, can only assume that to be the case.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Municipal recycling facility

Which brings me to the next matter – that of dumpster diving.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been witness to such practices. If I was, I don’t remember. What I do know is that when I worked for a home entertainment chain as an audio equipment repair technician, there was one occasion that necessitated my fetching something out of a trash dumpster located behind the company’s headquarters building in downtown Fresno.

Apparently, someone had inadvertently discarded into the container something that wasn’t supposed to be there and I had to go recover the item. Though I can’t be for certain, I would think it was I who was the guilty party in this case.

And, who should be walking up the alleyway where this was taking place, what would otherwise surely be a frowned-upon activity, none other than one of the company’s top executives, and, of course, said company official whose company I now was in, just had to make a then innocuous but, no doubt, apropos remark. Knowing the person I am, if it were me in his shoes, I probably would have done likewise. Thinking about the encounter now, doubtless I’m sure, I found the company exec’s perfectly-timed comment, funny.

Other similar encounters today? Not so much. The people rummaging through household waste or recycle bins looking for recyclable materials which can then be redeemed for cash, such activity in most cases I would suspect reserved for the overnight hours so as to lessen the chances of getting discovered, is it really worth all of the trouble even if the practice is not unlawful?

I mean, for those who are driving in vehicles hoping to retrieve from said bins recyclable material that has cash value, for all the effort, energy and gasoline expended, I’m not for sure there is any real payoff here, much less a big one. And, when the act is committed, all too often the contents of those containers ends up in the streets leaving the person who the bin was wheeled out to the curb by (or a household member) to take care of the cleanup.

And it isn’t just this. All of the driving – unnecessary driving – involved is probably being done in some of the most polluting vehicles – the gross polluters – if you think about it. And all for what, a few dollars earned? Unreal, such is. Every last bit of it.

Once the recyclable material is collected, it must then be driven to a recycling center to be turned over for cash redemption. That means even more pollution entering the air.

Landfill, Perth, Western Australia

I can’t say I know how widespread a problem this is. I sincerely hope it isn’t.

What I am happy about is that community members are taking time to put recyclables in the recycle container instead of the material ending up in landfills. What I’m less thrilled about – beside the dumpster diving – is that only about nine percent of recyclable plastics in the United States ever get recycled.

That’s got to change. We can and must do better.

People rummaging through other’s waste containers looking for so-called “finds,” in no way, shape or form, helps matters, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Then, of course, coming to mind here is the oft-heard saw “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” (an absurdity if you want to know the truth).

Dumpster diving?! Really?!

Oh, and speaking of worth, for what it’s worth, there is this huge effort underway right now to clean up and keep clean land along freeways in California in the city of Fresno, my new home.

Images: USEPA (upper); Ashley Felton (lower)

This post was last revised on Jun. 13, 2020 @ 5:23 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

– Alan Kandel

4 thoughts on “Dumpster diving: More worth than all the trouble, apparently”

  1. For one we are keeping things out of the landfill. For two the people who do this are usually envirmently friendly which means they usually drive a Prius. Two of my favorite dumpster divers in Temecula actually drive a Prius and they have found thousands of dollars of products in retail dumpsters. Three we actually make our money for gas and a lot more by reselling the items as well as have YouTube Channels that make money for these videos. If you were to look up the top dumpster divers on YouTube and then go to Socialblade you would see that the most of us are making between 100 to 300,000 a year just from YouTube views. Were not just helping out our landfill we also donate a lot of our stuff to homeless shelters. Maybe you should do some more research before you try and judge the people who are actually the ones out there doing all the diving. I’m sure you’d be pretty surprised.

    • Jackie, thank you for commenting.

      Firstly, I’m not judging the people engaging in this activity; I’m commenting on the activity itself.

      Secondly, my question now is about the legitimacy of the practice itself. If everyone engaged in this activity, I’m wondering how lucrative dumpster diving for everyone engaged in such would really be.

      Thirdly, I also said I didn’t know how widespread a problem dumpster diving was, which speaks to your point about my doing more research.

      And, lastly, the third point above is kind of summed up in my choice of titles: “Dumpster diving: More worth than all the trouble, apparently,” which is by its very nature, speculative.

      I thank you for bringing additional perspective to this area.

  2. You’re grossly inaccurate. Try it for a week. You’ll never buy anything from a store again. But please keep spouting misinformation as its more for me. If you only knew. I live beyond my means. Dont pay for anything.

    • I can tell you’re serious. To each their own. That this activity is of value to you, no one can take that away from you.

      But, let’s be real: Dumpster diving is not for everybody. When commercial items are purchased, such keeps people employed wherever. That helps economies to grow.

      There is too much commercial waste, obviously. What can be reused, should be. But, by the same token, what can be recycled, should be as well. It goes without saying that waste can be better managed. That’s the bottom line.

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