Dumpster diving is a messy and sometimes smelly activity, but it can be a good way to find eBay inventory. There are some basic steps you should follow to stay safe and (relatively) clean. There are also some locations that are better than others and normally yield better items.
If you live close to a college, you can find some great items at the end of each semester when students are moving out. A lot of times the students are too lazy to pack up all of their stuff, so they just throw it out and figure they’ll buy another item next semester. Or they realize they have nowhere to store items over the summer, so they’re forced to leave them behind. Also look for text books.( I have a coaching client (shout out Nancy M. in New York!) whose husband is a professor at a university in New York. My client told me that she walks around the campus at the end of the semester during exam time and finds abandoned books lying in hallways, on steps, and in parking lots – all free for the taking! Not dumpster diving, even better!)
When you go out dumpster diving, make sure to bring a step stool with you. This will make it easier to climb into the dumpster (since actual diving isn’t the safest choice). You’ll also want to bring gloves and boxes for your finds.
Once you’ve arrived at the dumpster, put your gloves on and use the stool to climb up and open the dumpster. Look over the dumpster and note where anything sharp or potentially dangerous is. Decide where the best place to climb in is and look for anything valuable there – you don’t want to step on it and break it. Once you’ve scoped everything out, climb in – while ignoring any comments and stares from people passing by.
Move from one side of the dumpster to the other. As you come across potentially valuable items, move them outside the dumpster to your boxes. Once you’ve sifted through everything, climb out of the dumpster carefully. Make sure you replace any trash that’s fallen out and close the lid – you want to leave everything looking just like you found it.