Urban Foraging

Alternatively known as trash picking, gleaning, dumpster diving, scavenging, salvaging, or curb crawling, urban foraging is the act of recovering useable goods discarded by retailers, schools, homes, businesses, construction sites – really anywhere anyone is throwing away goods that shouldn’t end up in a landfill. Frequently recovered items include clothing, food, furniture, computers, appliances, books, videos, DVDs, office supplies, lumber, tools, toys, umbrellas – just about anything you can buy in a store.

Urban foragers recover goods individually and in groups, and often share what they find with others – at freemeets, on Freecycle, within intentional communities, with neighbors, or right on the street. Groups like Food Not Bombs recover wasted foods and prepare meals that they serve on the streets, challenging a society that always has money for war but never enough to ensure that all are fed.

In New York City, Freegan.info runs group tours of retail waste with a focus on food. Participants take goods both for their own consumption and to redistribute to hungry people on the streets. Everyone is encouraged to join in on the next tour and learn how they can feed themselves directly with the waste of others. There are now organized groups of dumpster divers, through Meetup, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, Nashville, Champain/Urbana, and many more– see the main dumpster diving page on Meetup to find or organize a group near you.

Urban Foraging Tutorials and Links

Dumpster Diving for Fun and Profit

Is Urban Foraging Legal?

Health and Safety of Recovered Foods

Feeding Your Cat or Dog on Recovered Food

Recommended Urban Foraging Locations from the members of freegan.info. Mostly NYC area because that’s where we are, but we happily include locations sent to us to include. (email to ask@freegan.info)

Trashwiki, the collaborative world wide guide of creating value from trash. So far it’s Europe centered, but just think what it will be when more of us add our updates!

Evasion (PDF): travelogue of a diving, squatting, work-avoiding hobo

Good Places to Share Foraged Items:


Craigslist Free Section
(go to the home page to find your city)