One person's garbage is another person's treasure. Be sure to be safe when dumpster diving. Use safe and necessary equipment at all times. has some great options. 

Dumpster diving is another Davis form of recycling. Many businesses and school organizations throw out wonderful things. Also on moving day in Davis dumpster diving is practically a civic duty. Dumpster diving early and often can help furnish your apartment! Don't pay for furniture that might get ruined quickly. Items as large as couches and as small as wall art are often found in dumpsters at end of August/beginning of September. Also see Freshmen Move Out Day.

— from the Manson Family leader's song Garbage Dump

The Aggie did a front page story called Diving for Dinner on May 15, 2005.

Kind and considerate folks know to leave their usable items besides the dumpster, rather than throw them in, so that others who want it may find them in good shape. Reuse is by far the most efficient form of recycling.

Here is how you do it. Find a dumpster, climb in, and search for something useful. Some amazing things can be found in dumpsters in this town. Many of the grocery stores regularly throw away perfectly good food (some of which is then eaten at Whole Earth Festival meetings).

A notable dumpster diver named Gill used to be seen rummaging the town's dumpsters.

Dumpster Diving is also a classic hacker technique for finding information that leads to an exploit.

dumpsterbating: whereupon an individual finds useful things in their own trash.

Trash Temples

  • Your neighbor's dumpster

    Apartment complexes are best because at any time somebody is probably cleaning a closet or moving; middle class neighborhoods seem to generate more stuff than the rich folk.

  • Gourmet diving

    Eating food daily is essential, whether you've got the bucks or not. Diving around places that actually produce/resell food versus restaurants will probably yield the best quality, e.g. bakeries, grocery stores. Fast food places regularly toss anything that doesn't sell that day, candy stores sell a product that doesn't really go bad, and movie theaters regularly toss giant bags of popcorn. And if you're diving the burbs, you can score when freezers get cleaned or canned products get tossed on moving day. Diving for food can be risky, so you could instead try hunting for other sources of free food in Davis.

  • Bookstores

    When paperbacks and magazines don't sell, the covers get ripped off and sent back to the publisher for a return credit. If you're looking for material for your toilet/library, check behind these places. And don't forget that music stores carry music mags that can be enjoyable potty reading.

  • Discount stores

    Cheapie places like The Dollar Tree toss lots of empty boxes from which you can construct a three-season shelter. Most students opt to hit up mom/dad for rent money, but in a pinch... 

  • Toy/novelty/thrift stores

    Success in this arena is a long shot in Davis, but don't fore-go the dumpsters behind Davis' few high end baby, toy, and novelty stores... if you can drive a real car that's been beat to sh*t, you can certainly play with a beat up toy car! On this note, don't forget your neighborhood thrift stores or consignment shops - after a while, some things just aren't worth the real estate cost for retailers.

  • Florist shops

    Check out the dumpsters behind one of Davis' florist shops for slightly damaged and wilted flowers. 

  • Copy stores

    Copy shops occasionally toss lots of slightly defective office supplies such as boxes of envelopes that don't quite seal.

  • Photo developers

    These dumpsters just make good entertainment. Imperfect and often risqué photos are tossed in damp, chemical-laden bags. Find out what your neighbors have been up to when the curtains are shut!

  • Organizations of Evil

    I guess the University might fall within this category, and it certainly does provide ripe pickins' for books, interesting papers, old computers/software/lab equipment, and the like. But perhaps more importantly, you can find some great information in dumpsters of organizations such as Davis College Republicans, Women's Center, International House, Sword and Sandals meetings, fraternities, etc.

  • Dumpster Ethics If a dumpster is locked, there's probably a reason.

Good Dumpsters

Some dumpsters are less friendly than others The global freegan / foraging map now includes all the dumpsters listed below. The map can be edited, much like a wiki, to pinpoint other choice locations that folks might want to share.

  • Anderson Plaza dumpsters often have expired food and occasional videos. Dinner and a date!
  • Campus dumpsters provide good pickin's.
  • Department of Pomology's compost bin between Wickson Hall and Wellman Hall is usually filled to the brim with fresh fruits and nuts. Most of it has been experimented on so beware.
  • The Lexington Apartments on Olive Drive have their dumpsters' dived really on an hourly basis. This is due to the low income population (actually not the students this time) that live down the block.
  • Liquor store dumpsters are worth a look, although they may already be popular with homeless people. Many treasures there to be found for the cash-strapped student or underager (I do not endorse underage drinking). But FYI liquor store dumpsters are also known as urinals.
  • The Davis Food Co-Op had a good dumpster, now it is under lock and key due to Yolo County health regulations.
  • The dumpsters along Drake Drive have had free furniture.
  • The dumpsters at the North Davis Safeway on Covell generally have better food than the South Davis Safeway on Cowell.

People in Davis are so used to scavengers that you'll often find furniture left outside homes rather than hauling it to the dump or trying to sell it