Dumpster diving

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Dumpster diving (known as skipping in the UK)[1][2] is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be useful to the dumpster diver.


Etymology and alternate names

The dumpster diving term originates from the best-known manufacturer of commercial trash bins, Dempsey, who use the trade name "Dumpster" for their bins,[3] and the fanciful image of someone leaping head first into a dumpster as if it were a swimming pool. In practice, the size and design of most dumpsters makes it possible to retrieve many items from the outside of dumpsters without having to "dive" into them.

The practice of dumpster diving is also known variously as bin-diving,[4] containering,[5] D-mart,[6] dumpstering,[7] tatting, or "recycled" food.

A similar term is binner and is often used to describe people that collect recyclable materials for their deposit value.


Traditionally, most people who resort to dumpster-diving are forced to do so out of economic necessity.[citation needed] In Vancouver, Binners or bottle collectors search garbage cans and dumpsters for recyclable materials that can be redeemed for their deposit value. These binners earn on average $40 Canadian per day for several garbage bags full of discarded containers.[8]

The karung guni, Zabbaleen, the rag and bone man, waste picker, junk man or bin hoker are people who make their living by sorting and trading trash. A similar process known as gleaning was practiced in rural areas and some ancient agricultural societies, where the residue from farmers' fields was collected.

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