New York City

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Dumpster diving in New York City.

New York City, USA, is a heaven of trash. You can find amazing food in most parts of the city, though some parts (e.g. Upper East Side) are better than others. Still, you can even find great food in a relatively poor area such as Harlem. There are weekly freegan trash tours and other events hosted by the local Freegan community.

Dumpster diving

Legality

As with most of the US, any dumpstering done from actual dumpsters or bins is considered trespassing and is thus illegal. The same goes for anything taken from a parking lot or garage/loading dock. In New York, however, most trash is put out in bags on the sidewalk. It is therefore considered abandoned property and can be legally taken, under the condition that one is not being a nuisance in doing so, by making a mess, for instance. It is considered proper etiquette to untie bags, and retie them when finished, instead of ripping them open.

Places

A complete list of suitable locations is available at Freegan.info, under directories. Map available here and another here.

Manhattan

In Manhattan you can do some great dumpster diving.

The New York freegans keep a pretty up to date dumpster directory on their site-- see [1]for Manhattan.

Upper East Side:

  • The "Food Emporium" of 83rd Street and 3rd Avenue. You should be there between 21:00 and 22:00.
  • Gristedes, one at 89th and Lex and one at 86th and 2nd, great anytime after 21:00. You can find nice bread, lots of fruits and veggies, guaka has found stuff such as olive oil, humus and chocolate nacho chips.

On 3rd Avenue there are three grocery stores - two "D'Agostinos" and a "Gristedes" - between 25th Street and 37th Street, which all put out their trash around 9PM. The "Food Emporium" at the corner of 6th Ave and 12th Street puts out at 11PM every night. The manager has been known to take it back inside if he sees people dumpstering, however, an employee once warned Timmy Tofu that some of the trash may have been purposely tampered with.

Another great selling a high quality of natural and organic products is "Whole Foods Market‎" (see their website here). In Lower East Side it can be found on 95 E Houston St corner of 2nd Ave. You can find many vegetables and fruits over there. The dumpsters are just around the corner at Cherystie Steet. They take out the trash at around 16:00 everyday. The employees are very friendly and would not disturb you as you find your treasures.

Typical NYC trash finds.

Not so far from there at "BabyCakes" (http://www.babycakesnyc.com/) 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow) you can find tasty cakes and sweets. BabyCakes offers all natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. Their cakes don't contain white sugar or toxic chemical sweeteners. At Sunday around 18:00 they put out the cakes in back plastic bags right out side the door.

Plenty of bread in divers forms like ciabatta, whole wheat multigrain bread and baguette can be found in big amounts at "Aubonpain" (http://www.aubonpain.com/) at 10 Union Square E. On Sunday around 17:00 they through out bread and pastries left over from the weekend in big amounts which can last for the whole week. When you bring it home put it in the fridge and when you feel like having a sandwich simply put some water on the bread and put it in the oven. It comes out crispy and tasty.

You can catch a Starbuck's employee taking out their trash around when they are closing, and they will have a bag separate from the normal trash filled with their sandwiches and wraps. It's a good thing to pass around to all the people that you see living on the street as well, if you get more than you need for the night or week depending on how you do your diving. Depending on how health conscious you are, their stuff is relatively healthy.

Brooklyn

The New York freegans keep a pretty up to date dumpster directory on their site, although not as extensive for Brooklyn as for Manhattan. Click here for site's info on Brooklyn.

Known actual spots
  • Check out Sunac at 440 Union Ave. (Last checked: ?)
  • Key Foods on Prospect Ave Between 10th Ave and 11th Ave. Try around 11pm, dumpster in the back - easy to reach into. Best nights seems to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. (Last checked: July 2011)
  • Trader Joe's (located on the corner of Court and Atlantic) regularly takes out their dumpsters at 11pm every night, give the workers time to take out the first two dumpsters before rushing to go through the trash. There are often many divers at this location. (Last checked: ?)
  • add more?

You can definitely find nice random stuff in the street. guaka found a nice skateboard (in 2006).

Videos

Links

  • Freegan.info - a NYC-based informational website for freegans and dumpster divers. They organize meetings, trash and wild food tours, repair workshops and free film nights around NYC. Some events are open to media with prior appointment.
  • TV article about dumpster diving in New York, found on German spiegel.de