Dumpsters are synonymous with the homeless, whether it’s in the search for food or shelter (remember Bart Simpson finding Otto homeless in a dumpster?) and it’s a relationship that will continue in an economic downturn.

More kinds of people are doing it

Now though, it isn’t just the homeless and a wider cross-section of people are seeking out dumpsters. By the late 90s this was for environmental reasons (to salvage floor boards, maybe), financial reasons (it’s way less expensive to use someone else’s kitchen doors rather than buying your own) or ethical (the increasing anger to supermarket expiry dates being too limited and resulting in too much waste).

So-called “Dumpster Diving” is also used as a means of investigation (e.g. wading through someone’s credit card receipts) or a popular end-of-school-year activity on campus (where students throw out stuff they don’t want to cart home).

More mainstream?

It’s still a niche activity but with a raised profile. The global financial crisis has made it more of a necessity (various online threads talk about a perceived increase in popularity) while increased use of the Internet enables groups to find good dumping spots and relay this information to friends, e.g. for dumpsters in Portland OR, a simple search locates a bread dump several times a week at Killingsworth and 6th.

The result is an increased comfort in taking part in a marginal activity and various articles on how much can be found to create good meals. The Portland Mercury ran an article called “The Dumpster Brunch” showing the amount of food that can be found if people are willing to look.

More room in your local dumpsters?

For those of you who don’t fancy it, at least give thanks that Dumpster Diving may have provided more room in your local dumpsters. With the increase in cost of the city-approved blue trash bags – the only ones that local trash collectors will collect from people’s curbsides – people have turned to using someone else’s dumpster. So much so, the Phoenix newspaper has listed the best and worst places to dump trash around Portland.

So, if you’re looking to rent your own dumpster, either to practice diving or to provide your local community with somewhere to place its trash, check out Portland Disposal & Recycling, which has been renting dumpsters since 1936 at www.portlanddisposal.com.