San Francisco

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San Francisco, a city in California, USA, has lots of fabulous dumpsters, especially when the entire Bay Area is taken into account. As in most American cities, you can find random useful stuff just in the street.

Free food

See this map for some dumpster diving places in San Francisco and Bay Area.

  • The nearly famous Semifreddi's dumpster serves up five full bins of high-end bakery bread (including arguably the world's most delicious cinnamon bread), every day. You can also recover garbage bags full of cinnamon dough to take home and bake on your own (this is the most promising dumpster diving site we have found yet). Unfortunately, most of the bread is white, in the form of loaves, rolls, or baguettes. Map it at: 4242 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA‎. They are moving to a new location in Emeryville (apx. 4064 Halleck St.), which appears currently to have locked dumpsters, but the Hollis st. location still has plenty of food until their lease expires at the end of October 2009. (Last checked: Oct. 1st, 2009)
  • Acme Bakery, also in Berkeley, also has a fine dumpster (and "Cranberry Walnut" bread!!). If you go to their store at 1601 San Pablo Ave., and ask very nicely at the end of the day, may give you a sack of bread to take home. If you wind up at their production bakery at 2730 9th St., in Berkeley, you can hop the fence to get at the goods -- reportedly the fence exists to curb the truck-graffiti problem this bakery used to have. The gate is open during store hours, but there are lots of employees around. A LOT of employees.
  • Metropolitan Bakery, all the way down Heinz St. is in the same neighborhood as Acme's production bakery, has a reputation for fine quality, tasty bread (and a good selection of not-white bread, including "multigrain sourdough with scallions and walnuts", or "rosemary potato bread", tasty!)
  • Clif Bar Company sometimes throws out large quantities of Clif bars. On 4th St. near University, in Berkeley.
  • Mi Tierra Grocery on San Pablo (near University; across the street from Country Cheese and the post office) in Berkeley is a reliable supply house for fruits, veggies, tomatoes, cheap crumbly pastries, etc.
  • There are two Andronico's groceries in Berkeley that produce a healthy lot of produce! One is on Shattuck a block from the famous Cheeseboard, the other on University and Acton, a few blocks from Sacramento.
  • Trader Joe's Rockridge is phenomenal. Lots of delicious produce here! As of September 2009 they have begun locking the dumpster.
  • The Scharffenberger Chocolate Factory in Berkeley supposedly had a dumpster full of chocolate; however, recently they started locking their dumpster for most of the time (as of Dec.8, 2008), and are moving to a new location out of state. Visit 914 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA‎.
  • Veritable Vegetables: Committed to Sustainable Farming does pretty well at culling their trash, but you can occasionally find some loot in either of their two industrial composts, near Cesar Chavez and Tennessee in the Dogpatch District of the city.
  • Rainbow Grocery follows the undoubtedly enlightened and wonderfully humane practice of putting the "good food" on the side of the dumpster in cardboard bins. Much produce to be scored here. They're on Folsom St. near the freeway.

Personal experiences

"My sister Jasmine, my friend Angela and I found Trashwiki recently and decided to go on a dumpster-diving marathon. The first day we went to Semifreddi's, about a 45 minute bike ride form my house. We got two baguettes, two challahs, a few loaves of rustic bread, and a cinnamon loaf. Angela wanted to get some cinnamon dough, but most of it had been dumped into the bottom of the dumpster and was pretty dirty. Most of the several people who saw us seemed cool with it, and even smiled or laughed. The second day we tried Scharffenberger and Clif, with no luck, then went to Acme after doing a bit of Sharpie-ing on a building by the railroad tracks. It was around 1 o' clock and we politely asked a man who was dumping bread from a cart into a dumpster inside a lot (marked "no trespassing") to give us some. He gave us one loaf, and we wanted to go into the lot and get more, but there were too many workers around. On the way home Angela discovered her cell phone was missing and we retraced our steps twice but didn't find it. Eventually a stranger found it and gave it to her dad. By the end of the second day we had 8 loaves of bread, 3 scrapes, 4 blisters, one pulled leg muscle, and a whole bag of pity licorice from Angela's dad." -- User:Hemlock

Free stuff

A good map of free stuff in San Francisco can be found here.

  • The North Face Outlet, near 5th and Gilman, has occasionally yielded such treats as a really sweet backpack, a pocketknife, bike spandex (yess! bike spandex!). Go during the day because it's locked at night.
  • REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.,), a large outdoor chain store at San Pablo and Gilman, has a moderately rich dumpster, but now only bring it out on Thursday nights.
  • Wilderness Exchange just across the street from the REI regularly places their unsellable surplus outside by the dumpster. Right on, W. Ex! They stock a lot of used/2nd hand equipment, so know that what they throw out is likely to be truly the dregs -- all the same, Nuclearphyllis has reaped 4 pairs of skiis, motorcycle boots, and more from this dumpster!
  • San Francisco State University fills their dumpsters with leftover dorm furniture and student leave-behinds at the end of each school year. The dorm dumpsters are overflowing with chairs, desks, beds and whatever the students leave. When the library opens again, the dumpsters behind it usually fill with school supplies and materials at the end of each year. Books, desks, old overhead screens, AV carts, whiteboards, chalkboards and lots of miscellaneous school things. Basically all dumpsters, at the end of the spring semester, fill with lots of useful things.
  • The Villas Parkmerced has the same deal as San Francisco State. At the end of each school year, lots of people move out leaving behind a lot of house oriented things.

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs is very active in the bay, and serves nearly every day of the week somewhere in SF. Currently (Sept 2009) in UN Plaza at about 5:45pm on Monday and Wednesday and possibly Sunday, and 3:30pm on Saturday. In Berkeley the "Food Not Bombs" serves every day at People´s Park between 2:45 and 3:30 PM.

Really Really Free Market

Free books from a RRFM event in San Francisco.

San Francisco has regular Really Really Free Market events where things and services are provided for free for anyone interested. See for more info.

External links


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