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Philadelphia, a city in Pennsylvania, USA, has lots of fabulous dumpsters, especially when the entire Greater Philadelphia Region is taken into account. As in most American cities, you can find random useful stuff just in the street as most of Philadelphia's household trash collection is weekly curbside pickup.

Places to dumpster dive

West Philadelphia

University City is a large area with two large universities: UPenn and Drexel. As with many universities, this area has plenty of dumpsters at the end of the school year filled with leftover dorm and student leave-behinds at the end of each school year.

Center City

You can get cigar boxes from a dumpster on Sydenham St. between Walnut and Locust.

South Philadelphia

There are some warehouses/distributors along Patterson Ave. you can check out.

Food Not Bombs

There are chapter(s) of Food Not Bombs in West, South and North Philadelphia. Note that the North Philadelphia chapter no longer has anything to do with North Philly. They cook and distro in West Philly and serve in Center City.

Other organizations

  • The Philadelphia Dumpster Divers are a group of about 40 artists and friends in the region who largely work with found objects in their art and meet monthly. Not all of them dumpster dive, but many of them do trash pick, go to garage sales, thrift stores, and share goods with one another. Their meetings are usually not open to the public or additional folks.
  • The Please Take Materials Exchange is a co-operative non-profit organization founded in 1996 where people can exchange unwanted materials with one another. They had a warehouse space from 1998-2000 and have recently acquired a new space where they can reestablish their programs, however, it needs to be renovated first by interested parties.
  • Philly Freecycle is a regional mailing list for people exchanging unwanted items for free online. It is estimated that monthly goods distributed through Philly Freecycle have a weight of 16 tons a month or more.
  • Books Through Bars is a nonprofit organization housed at the A-Space in West Philadelphia that accepts unwanted books for distribution to indigent prisoners.
  • There are a number of efforts related to improving sustainability and recycling in the region.

Thrift Stores

There are of course ample thrift stores in the Philadelphia region.


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