50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth

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Top Tier Gear USA


possum mentality will lead people to think you’re cheap. In our propped up economy, I call it industrious, resourceful, and plain smart. Why buy stuff with hard-earned cash when other people’s trash is everywhere?

Dumpster diving is certainly NOT above the members of our Doing the Stuff Network. These resourceful folks embody the Dumpster Diva mentality. In fact, repurposing or up-cycling everyday items is an integral part of homesteading, prepping, bush crafting, back-to-basics living, and emergency first aid.

Once you catch the Dumpster Diva bug, you’ll view dumpsters as treasure chests! I’m sure our handlers have pesky prohibitions against this uncivilized pursuit – so dumpster dive at your own risk. Ask permission from business owners before taking what you think is trash. Especially when prowling for pallets. Most businesses recycle pallets and consider taking without permission theft.

But here’s the thing…

You don’t have to actually dig in dumpsters to repurpose stuff. Up-cycle, repurpose, and re-trash are trendy terms for what our grandparents did to get through hard times. Use it up, wear it out, and then find another use for the item other than its intended purpose.

Check out the projects below and get in touch with your trashy side.

Dumpster Diving for Self-reliance

1.) Cheap to Free Stuff

That metal DVD rack collecting dust could be repurposed to feed rabbits.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

She could have dumped several dollars at the local feed and seed but went all Dumpster Diva and made an unconventional – yet functional – rabbit feeder.

2.) Landfill Love

Michael, my brother from another mother, found an 18 foot long tent and other items he repurposed from the local landfill.

Landfill Love

I think his best up-cycling miracle performed was when his gas tank on his old Datsun pickup ruptured. He ran a gas line from a gallon gas can to his engine with the can sitting inside the hood of his truck. A fire hazard? Yes. But he had to drive to work and this was a short-term fix. Might come in handy in a bug out scenario. Redneck genius!

3.) Billboards

You didn’t hear me wrong. Large tarps are expensive but have endless uses around a homestead…

  • Protect equipment from weather
  • Wind block
  • Shade animals
  • Ground cloth
  • Roofing, etc., etc.

Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

I bought a 14′ by 40′ billboard for $14 a few months ago. A portion was used as a roof for my trapping shelter (personal space). A few of our readers have scored free tarps by just asking the work crew for old billboards!

4.) Pallets

With a little sweat equity, free wood for projects around your homestead, yard, handicrafts, or house can be found in wooden shipping pallets. No disassembling required for some projects. Here’s some DiY pallet projects from around the web to get your mind geared to repurpose…

I love it when people start trading theory for action! Resilient Man emailed the first steps of his journey to self-reliance and active resilience. He’s getting his hands dirty using pallets to build a chicken coop.

via ResiliantMan.com

5.) Containers

Without becoming an obsessive compulsive hoarder, you can turn waste into wealth. The key here is to organize waste to prevent your house from becoming a death trap of trash.

The plastic five gallon bucket may be the most underappreciated prep item ever… until you need one and none are to be found. Ever tried to create your own containers from raw materials? Not an easy task! That goes double for glass.

Keep your wine bottles, mason jars, and other glass items. For an unusual use of mason jars, check out our post on Mason Jar Oil Lamps. They make Healthy Fast Food meals as well!

6.) Think Before You Toss Everyday Items

Here’s a round-up from a few of my Prepared Blogger friends who can help you take dumpster diving, repurposing, and up-cycling to new levels.

7.) First Aid/Medical

Lizzie over at Underground Medic put together Ten unconventional additions to your emergency medical kit worth checking out.

If you haven’t discovered the many survival uses for duct tape yet, The Survival Doctor (Dr. James Hubbard) wrote an entire book on how to use duct tape for medical emergencies – Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together.

The Dumpster Diva Award goes to…

One of our amazing members of the Doing the Stuff Network is now crowned Dumpster Diva! She and her husband are building a homestead house (Earthship) out of old tires!

Earthship house being built by a Doing the Stuff Networker

I hope Part 2 in the Self-Reliant Summer Series encourages you to trade theory for ACTION! We’re planning an entire summer of self-reliance articles to keep us Doing the Stuff. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

What’s your favorite repurposing hack for self-reliance and preparedness? Comments are always welcome…

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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Contributed by Todd Walker of Survival Sherpa.

Todd Walker is married to the lovely Dirt Road Girl, proud father and grandfather, a government school teacher, a lover of the primal lifestyle and liberty. You can check out his website at Survival Sherpa with a vision of helping each other on the climb to self-reliance and preparedness…the Survival Sherpa way…One step at a time. Follow him on Twitter. Send him mail: survivalsherpa@gmail.com

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