Dumpster diving without the dumpster

Maybe you’ve heard of dumpster diving. If you haven’t, here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

dumpster divingDumpster diving is the salvaging of waste in large commercial, residential, industrial and construction containers to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but that may prove useful to the picker. It is not confined to dumpsters specifically, and may cover standard household waste containers, curb sides, landfills or small dumps.

Depending on how you look at things, dumpster diving might sound like fun or it might sound gross. Some say it can be profitable. I don’t know about that but I do know that dumpster diving can save money if you find something useful that’s also free. I guess dumpster diving is popular too; Amazon sells at least a dozen books on the subject of dumpster diving. I know, hard to believe… Some people will take food from dumpsters, but I’m not quite ready to go “there” just yet. I’m mainly interested in discarded stuff I can use myself or maybe sell.

Downsides to dumpster diving

Dumpster diving can be fun, maybe even profitable. It might get you arrested if you do it in the wrong place. If you dumpster dive in an urban area you could be competing with homeless people who might not be friendly (or non-violent). Maybe it’s just cold and snowy outside. Whatever, traditional dumpster driving might not be something that’s your thing. But all that free treasure…

Dumpster diving without the dumpster

You know what? You can dumpster dive without ever touching a dumpster. It’s called craigslist. All you have to do is go to your local craigslist site (for example fresno.craigslist.org), go to the “for sale” block near the middle of the page, and click on free. Most of the stuff you’ll find is junk (just like real dumpster diving) but if you’re patient you can find some really useful or even valuable stuff. Like what?

In the past week on my local craigslist I’ve found  a stackable washer/dryer set (working), brass door hinges, wood pallets, hay bales (great for garden mulch or “green manure”), tin cans (useful for lots of things), and a 65″ projection TV (the TV is useless but not the fresnel lens in it). I’ve even seen free pianos and free haircuts (from a cosmetology school).

The problem with prepper sites…

When I first started on my prepping journey I spent a lot of time on prepper sites trying to learn. Unfortunately I also spent a lot of money on prepper books (most of which were a waste of money). I started thinking about this recently because a new member in our group is asking for some good prepper sites. I don’t spend a lot of time on prepper sites any more so I had to think back to which ones I found useful. Since I couldn’t remember any specific sites, I started looking so I could give her some good recommendations. Now I remember why I don’t spend time on such sites any more – most of them are a waste of time.

The problem with prepper sites…

The first problem with prepper sites is repetition. When you think about it, prepping is pretty basic. You need water, food, shelter, security, and communications. Guess what? There are only a few ways to store (and purify) water and a few kinds of food that are good for long term storage. Of course every prepper site has to talk about them, so you get lots of repetition. And even with all the repetition, you still get incomplete or sometimes incorrect info. For example, one very popular prepping site has a “12 month prepping plan.”

At the end of 12 months (if you follow the plan) you’ll have 6 gallons of water, 16 cans of meat/fruit/vegetables, and 3 boxes of crackers/cereal – about a weeks worth of food and water. I don’t know about you, but after a whole year of prepping I’d want to have more than a week’s worth of food and water. The food list isn’t broken down by calories. I do know that an average adult needs about 1500 to 2000 calories per day, and only 1 gallon of water is pretty sparse, especially if you use some for cooking or hygiene.

Who’s the expert?

Another problem with prepper sites is that a lot of them talk about things they don’t seem to know much about – for example communications (comms). Just about every prepper site that mentions comms says to get a hand crank AM/NOAA radio and FRS/GMRS walkie talkies. The problem? An AM/NOAA is a receiver, NOT a communication device. You can only listen, not talk. The FRS/GMRS radios have limited range and limited channels.

A much better solution is a UHV/VHF walkie talkie like the Baofeng UV5R. Better range than FRS/GMRS (especially on a repeater network), more channels (frequencies), and it can be programmed to scan AM broadcast and NOAA bands. So why don’t most prepper sites (a few do) recommend it? Maybe spending $15 and a few hours of studying to get a license is too much trouble for serious preppers?

Drama Queens (and Kings)…

This is really noticeable on YouTube prepping channels. I guess everyone wants to have something that makes them stand out from the other 460,000 best prepping blogs and forums. You know the drill…

“‘I only need to walk 10 miles to get home. That attitude will get you killed.’ What if those 10 miles are through a burned out city? Your direst route home is blocked with flames, people, rabid animals, dust, chemicals… you need to do a 90 degree offset using a compass blah blah blah… those 10 miles could easily turn into 30 miles blahh blah blah… AND THEN – what if I go through those 30 miles of misery and find out all my friends and family are dead. My house and my bugout bag are destroyed… suddenly a mere get home bag doesn’t cut it…”

Come on… seriously???

Too much click bait…

I get that people need (or want) to make money from their blogs. Heck, I’ll admit to having some Amazon links once in awhile. But when every single paragraph in an article has an affiliate link it makes me wonder… did they really test the product they’re promoting? Is it just a coincidence that the product they chose to link to on Amazon (or whatever) just happens to be the most expensive one in its product category? How come so many sites never seem to review something and then recommend that you NOT buy it? I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but sometimes I wonder…

Until next time…

OK, so what web sites do I recommend? Well, this is getting kind of long so that will have to wait until next time. I will say that I don’t like most general prepping sites because, well, they’re too general. Next time though I’ll share some of the sites I do like, along with some books I find useful.

Peace out,