Dumpsterologist radio documentary

Dominic from CBC Radio sez, "Darren Atkinson is a husband, a father, a musician... and a dumpster diver. If he's not playing drums for a living, he's diving into industrial waste bins, looking for treasure. This is work. This is his 'job'. He sells what he can, or trades thrown-away goods for services and favours. But can a self-confessed - and possibly obsessed - 'dumpsterologist' make a living from the cast-offs of our consumer society?"

Darren is an old pal of mine, and I've written about his amazing life and ethic for Wired and Forbes. This is fantastic radio documentary on him!

The Hunter Documentary

Direct link to MP3


  1. Are there any industrial dumpster divers around here who might be able to throw in their two cents on the basics of the trade?

    As most industrial dumptsters, from my experience, are locked up themselves or are within locked up areas, is access mostly a matter of asking nicely or negotiating some kind of deal with whoever holds the keys?

    The podcast is next in my queue, but I wanted to throw these questions out there regardless of whether it addresses them.

  2. There are lots of dumpster divers out there.

    I’m glad this one’s talking about it. It’s like instant archaeology.

  3. Japan was, and is, the land of the “free” street sale. With homes and apartments so small, a new purchase usually means something has to go. In Kyoto for 3 years, I pretty much got everything by being one step ahead of the gomi collectors. Of course, their truck plays music, so you can hear them coming for blocks. That’s the point. People rush out with their discarded appliances and housewares. Want a two year old TV? just take it off the curb.
    A friend was leaving for good and set up a “garage sale” on a side lane. People who would never think of gomi dipping were snapping up 100 yen goods. Other neighbors added to the sale. I was thinking that this was the end of the gomi parade. I need to revisit the old neighborhood.

  4. I’ve seen quite a few articles like this on Boing and elsewhere-making a living off dumpsters, or living like a hobo, or on discarded food from restaurants etc.
    I think this is possible only because of the throwaway culture that exists in the US. In India for example, no one throws away appliances, there’s a whole cottage industry devoted to repairing stuff and you can fix your fridge, AC, TV even if they’re old and the warranty’s expired.
    The same goes for food-culturally we believe in ‘waste not, want not’ and unless food is totally spoilt/rotten it wouldn’t be thrown away.

    So despite the allure of this lifestyle, it’s something that can only be practised in the US.

  5. I’ve got the Batman theme in my head now, try it:

    dinner dinner dinner dinner dinner dinner dinner dinner DUMPSTER! (etc)

    That is so totally the theme tune for this radio documentary. I feel it would *make* it. Also, DubLi FTW.

  6. I’ve gotten some real gems from dumpsters (or along side them) –
    A Macintosh SE FD/HD
    A nice floor lamp
    A bike whose only problem was a broken chain (it was new!)
    My coffee table
    My current dining room table (via a Barnes & Noble that closed)
    A great ex-Navy chair that’s at my workbench
    The chair I’m sitting in now

    It’s a great thing. Saves things that are probably not ready for the landfill. Grew up on a farm, you know, and we lived by the old adage “buy new, wear it out, make do or do without.” Bad for the economy we’ve built for ourselves over the past several decades, I know…

  7. I grabbed a P4-2.8 GHz machine out of a dumpster just a few days ago.

    I haven’t had time to verify yet, but I think it’s just a busted PSU. Probably nothing more a blown fuse.

    (I wish they’d make those damn things more serviceable. They REALLY don’t want you changing the fuses on those things)

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