TikTok has a massive dumpster diving community that share their hauls of discarded items.
Creators have found everything from AirPods and LEGO sets to medical supplies and clothing.
Some of the top creators are trying to use their platform to fight against unnecessary waste.
People have hunted for discarded goods in dumpsters and trash cans for decades. But in the last few years, it's developed a massive following on TikTok, with dozens of people chronicling their dumpster diving excursions, proudly posting their hauls, and raising awareness about the excessive, unnecessary waste from some businesses.
The yield for these dives seems especially bountiful around holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, where stores have specific seasonal stock they can't sell after the fact.
In the last week, creators have uploaded dozens of new videos of dives and hauls under the hashtag "#DumpsterDiving," which has amassed nearly three billion views on the platform.
Tiffany She'ree, a popular dumpster diving influencer with over 2.7 million followers under the handle "dumpsterdivingmama," posted a TikTok on Thursday showing her claiming a massive heap of Christmas-themed soaps outside a World Market store. Earlier in the week, she went through a Party City dumpster and found a smattering of Thanksgiving goodies: a turkey gobbler costume, an apple orchard welcome sign, hay bales, wine bags, pumpkin decor, and tea lights. A few weeks after Halloween, she found a myriad of costumes and a giant pillar of decorative skulls.
@dumpsterdivingmama PULLED UP TO A DIVER IN THE DUMPSTER ALREADY, LUCKILY SHE IS MY FRIEND 😀 WE SAVED ALL THE GOODIES!! #DONATEDONTDUMP #SHAME #WOW #SAVED #WASTED #DUMPSTERDIVINGMAMA #SCORE #TRASHPANDA #GOODFIND #DUMPSTERDIVING @journeytothatplace ♬ original sound - ᴛɪꜰꜰᴀɴʏ ꜱʜᴇʀᴇᴇ
The range of items that TikTok dumpster divers have found is stunning, and some hunters have even hauled home expensive products like LEGO Star Wars kits, Apple AirPods, and Gucci ties. One forager said she discovered over $1,600 in items from a Spirit Halloween dumpster.
@thetrashwalker Night of designer ties (also the insulin night) #nyc #donate #donatedontdump #dumpsterdiving #haul #vintage #shopping #recycle #climatechange #reuse #thrift #decor #free #zerowaste #eco #sustainable #ecofriendly #designer #chanel #dior ♬ Style - Taylor Swift
Some of the biggest dumpster diving influencers are very explicit about their mission to curb waste and raise awareness about the misuse of leftover, unsold store items.
Salty Stella, a TikToker with over 1.2 million followers, shared a video last week of how upset she was after discovering piles of food—KIND snack bars, soups, juice, sodas—in one dumpster.
"You wanna see some shit?" she said at the start of the video. "Look at all the ramen I'm collecting. You wanna tell me ramen goes bad?"
Anna Sacks, a TikToker from New York City with over 400,000 followers, is known as "The Trashwalker." She frequently shares videos of the binned goods she's found. Her hauls run the gamut from designer ties and puffy North Face coats to a potty training kit and medical insulin supplies.
In her videos, Sacks frequently draws attention to wasteful city tendencies and proposes alternatives like donating or recycling instead of discarding items. Her Twitter bio describes her effort as trying to "divert as much as possible from landfill/incineration, create systemic change & raise consciousness." She has called for "donate not dump legislation" for hygiene products that could be used to help people in shelters.
@thetrashwalker Reply to @tubbybridges @CVS Pharmacy #donatedontdump for hygiene items at least #nyc #donate #dumpsterdiving #haul #vintage #shopping #recycle #climatechange #reuse #thrift #decor #free #zerowaste #eco #sustainable #ecofriendly #cvs #CatchChobaniOatmilk #AmazonVirtualTryOn #MakeASplash #essential #law ♬ Lo-fi hip hop - NAO-K
"Corporations don't want people to see the overproduction, the wastefulness, the lack of donation," Sacks told The New York Times in an interview in November. "To change behavior, it's important to expose the wastefulness."
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