As the saying goes, “the misfortune of some makes the happiness of others”. Even though it might sound weird to many people, Dechetarism, which is looking for useful items in the trash cans, is a great way to ensure that items in perfect condition don't end up with the rest of the waste. This activity does not require any special skills or materials, but you should be aware of the possible risks and learn the best ways to avoid getting sick or getting into trouble. Whether you want to furnish your home, fill your refrigerator or make money with garbage, you will make your research more fruitful by learning more about dechetarism.
Part 1 of 4: prepare to search the trash cans
Step 1. Find out about local regulations
Before you jump in head first, you need to have a good idea of the legal risks involved if you collect things that have been thrown in the trash. In most places, waste is no longer considered private property, which is why you shouldn't get into trouble. However, it is possible to be charged with other offenses while engaging in this activity, such as breach of privacy, home invasion and vagrancy.
- Most people are going to take a negative view of Dechetarism, even in places where it is technically legal.
- If you come across any fences, locks, or 'Do Not Enter' signs, you should take it as a warning. You might be better off keeping your distance away from closely watched areas.
Step 2. Check the dumpsters near you
Everyone knows that you can find dumpsters outside of most major businesses, but you could extend your hunting ground to surrounding neighborhoods, schools, churches, and other public places like parks and beaches. To avoid being spotted, avoid skips that are too exposed.
- Find out about the passage of garbage collectors in your city so that you can go and take a look in the dumpsters before they are emptied.
- Plan your outings for early morning or late evening when most people are busy.
Step 3. Know what to recover
Garbage collection sites in public places contain many treasures that only help to be collected. It is possible for savvy waste-to-hearters to find designer clothes, expensive scrap materials, or even old and expensive electronics in the dumpsters of high-end establishments. Having a basic idea of what you might find there will help you focus your research better.
- If you are looking for something in particular, the smartest thing to do is look at the source. For example, you would have a better chance of finding new beauty products in the dumpster behind a beauty supply store or stumbling across small electronics in that of an office supply store.
- Observe the presence of old furniture and appliances that owners no longer want in residential areas.
Step 4. Prepare yourself mentally
It is not always easy to find the will to climb into a lukewarm, smelly dumpster, as most people dislike things that have to do with garbage. It can be helpful to take a moment to take stock before you start. Remember your reasons for doing what you want to do and don't forget that you will also help give things thrown in the trash a second life.
Dechetarism is not an activity of its own. It's probably not the best hobby for people who don't have a good stomach
Part 2 of 4: making great finds
Step 1. Dress properly
Chances are, the clothes you are going to wear will stain or get damaged, which is why you should wear old clothes that you can get dirty or tear without regrets. Comfortable clothing will help you move smoothly, which can be helpful if you have to climb dumpsters or twist. You should also wear a pair of closed-toe shoes or boots with a thick sole to protect your feet from sharp or sharp objects.
- Wear pants and a long-sleeved top to reduce your exposure to contaminated materials.
- If you are going to get inside the dumpster, you should choose resistant materials like jeans, nylon or leather and cover your body as much as possible.
- Remove the accessories you don't want to lose by searching the dumpsters.
Step 2. Equip yourself with other useful tools
Do not hesitate to take with you anything that seems useful to you, for example a pair of thick gloves, a small stool or a bucket to be able to get into the dumpster. If you are doing this activity at night, you should take a flashlight or headlamp to make it easier for you to see. Also, don't forget to take a large bag to store your finds.
- A large, sturdy canvas bag is a great tool for bringing home your treasures.
- Use a long stake to turn the trash around until you find something that catches your eye. If you are careful enough, you might save yourself from having to get into the dumpster every time.
- It might also be useful to have a flashlight during the day if the dumpster is particularly deep or if it is in a dark area.
Step 3. Collect only what you are going to use
While you might be tempted to bring back anything that might be of value, you'd better limit yourself to the things you might really need. Otherwise, you will accumulate unnecessary things and eventually you will have to throw them away again.
- Organize your finds in separate piles: one for things you can reuse, one for people you know who might use them, and one for things you are going to sell.
- If you can't find anything you want to collect, don't waste your time and move on to the next dumpster.
Step 4. Stay alert
As has been mentioned, dechetarism is not a popular activity. If you're not careful, you might be surprised by curious passers-by, homeowners, or even the police. Keep your eyes peeled and keep an eye on what's going on around you at all times, or have a friend or other waste disposal company stand by to warn you if anyone is approaching.
- Spend as little time as possible in the area. Come in, take what interests you and go.
- Be ready to give up your search in a second.
Step 5. Don't make a mess
If you removed any items from the dumpster during your research, it's important to make sure you put them back in before you leave. While you're at it, look around for some trash that you can also throw in the dumpster. Try to leave the area as clean as it was when you arrived, or even cleaner.
- If you leave traces of your presence, you are going to take a higher risk of getting caught the next time you come.
- Your goal is to save money, not damage. Do not participate in the bad reputation of dechetarism.
Part 3 of 4: Become a Food Waste Disposer
Step 1. Go to where the food is
If you want to stock up your cupboards and refrigerator, it can be helpful to know where to find foods that you can collect without risking your health. You will most often find something to collect behind restaurants and supermarkets. Cafes and pastry shops are also great places to throw away freshly prepared unsold items at the end of the day. Most of the time, these foods will not be left outside long enough to spoil.
- In general, you should try to go dig behind a store that sells the food you want to find.
- If you want to indulge in dechetarism in popular stores and restaurants, you better wait until the night to go unnoticed.
Step 2. Collect the packaged food first
Foods packaged in cans, jars, or wrappers tend to last longer than fresh foods because they will be less exposed to bacteria in the air. These kinds of products should be your priority when you are foraging. Find foods that are still vacuum-packed like canned tuna or individual granola bars.
- Avoid anything that is unsealed or that has already been opened.
- Canned and dry foods (eg raw rice, oatmeal, and pasta) are still edible for several months after their expiration date.
Step 3. Use expired food immediately
You should still be able to consume a pocket of soft avocados or a jar of mayonnaise, but you should do so as quickly as possible. The best way to make foods you salvage that are nearing their expiration date (or already past their expiration date) last is to incorporate them into the other ingredients in your recipes. For example, you might not feel like eating bananas that are already browned, but they are going to be perfect for making a banana cake or a smoothie.
- Cook the food you bring back as much as possible. This will kill harmful bacteria that start to breed when food spoils and which could cause food to smell or taste bad.
- Most products can be canned, pickled, or made into jams or jellies, which helps extend their shelf life.
Step 4. Discard questionable foods
It goes without saying, but you have to use your common sense, if you find any food that looks moldy or smells bad, you should not eat it. Most meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables that end up in the trash fall into this category. Although they might be tempting, perishable foods are the ones that go bad first. Rather, you should be looking for foods that store well under multiple storage conditions, and use your common sense.
- If you do decide to collect them, you should double check them for signs of mold or to see if they are not open and you should be aware of the risk you are taking to your health.
- Never eat frozen or refrigerated foods that have been thawed at room temperature. It could make you very sick.
Part 4 of 4: Protect your health
Step 1. Carefully dig through dumpsters
You can never know what's hiding at the bottom of a dumpster or trash can. Broken glass, moldy food, hazardous materials and other types of waste pose a threat to your health. Go slowly and carefully as you rummage through the unidentified trash, especially if you have trouble seeing what's around you.
Open the lid of the dumpster or have a friend hold it open so you can poke around safely
Step 2. Watch for the presence of pests
Rats, opossums, raccoons and other animals often take up residence in dumpsters. If you scare or provoke them, they might attack you. Take a look inside the dumpster before jumping into it to avoid an incongruous encounter with a potentially dangerous animal. You could also scare off the animals inside by banging on the walls before getting in.
- If there are pests in the dumpster you want to search, the best thing to do is move on to the next one.
- Pests that live in garbage cans are known to carry diseases that can be fatal to humans. Stay away at all costs.
Step 3. Take a shower right after
As soon as you get home, you should jump in the shower and wash yourself to remove any dirt and germs you may have come in contact with during your expedition. Wash yourself in hot water with antibacterial soap and remember to use shampoo. Pay special attention to areas you might easily forget, such as the inside of your ears and under your fingernails.
- Prolonged or dangerous exposure to garbage cans could cause many health problems.
- Contrary to popular belief, waste disposal people must have impeccable hygiene, even more so than people who do not come into contact with the trash.
Step 4. Clean the items you bring back
Soak non-electronic products in hot water and a strong disinfectant to kill bacteria and remove mold and other residue. Rinse the foods you have collected and the packaging with clean water before storing them properly or using them immediately in your preparations. After a good cleaning, most of your finds should regain their shine.
- Clean electronic devices with a cloth and rubbing alcohol or a mild detergent.
- Food should be given special attention, as it is extremely dangerous to consume spoiled or contaminated products.
- Meet other landlords to find out about the best places, to organize yourself into teams and ensure each other's safety.
- Valuable products such as jewelry or household appliances in good condition can be cleaned and sold in second-hand stores.
- Prepare a plausible explanation if you get caught, for example claiming that you dropped your cell phone in the trash or looking for empty boxes to pack your things on your move.
- Make sure the dumpsters are free of pests such as possums, rats, or raccoons before getting into them. You can scare them off by banging against the wall of the dumpster.
- Wear a filter mask or handkerchief on your face to filter out bad odors.
- Be tenacious. You may have to go to several places before you find something you want to take home.
- Take a look at your clothes before you go home, some pests like cockroaches will cling to you until they find a new home to colonize.
- Find out about store closing times near you, traffic times, garbage pick-up days, and police patrols, some areas might be more active than others even at 2 a.m.
- Garbage cans are thrown out for good reason. Every time you come in contact with waste, you run the risk of getting sick or injuring yourself.
- If you get caught by the police, don't run away. You are probably going to be caught one day or another and even if you manage to escape them, it will make your next outings more complicated. Be polite, tell the truth, and cooperate when dealing with law enforcement.
- If you cut or scrape yourself while rummaging in the trash, you should treat the wound immediately with an antiseptic to prevent infection.
- Never eat foods that smell bad or show signs of mold or decay.