One mother has increased her income by £ 2,000 a month after turning to the recovery and sale of “rubbish” thrown away from large stores.
And Tiffany Butler now has 400,000 fans following her exploits on social media.
The 31-year-old was a mom who stayed home while watching a video about dumpster diving in 2017 – the term for retrieving discarded items from commercial bins – and got inspiration to record it as a hobby before doing one lucrative career.
Tiffany from Dallas, Texas, USA, whose boyfriend Daniel Roach (36) is an electrician, has now planned two lucrative “garbage routes” and spends up to three hours a day diving in dumpsters from Monday to Friday – and finds everything from chic mixers to designer Hundreds of pounds worth of blouses.
She turns other people’s junk into profit and sells most of what she finds for 25 percent of its retail value, mostly online. She says, “First of all, diving gives you such a high value that you take anything and everything.
“But it got to the point where my whole house – and garage – was full of things.
“Now I only take things that I know I will use or that I can make a profit on.”
She continued, “We usually google the retail price and then save 75 percent.
“I don’t mind I didn’t pay for them and it feels good to help people get some bargains!”
Tiffany, whose children Mia, eight and Ruxton, six are from a previous relationship, says discovering dumpster diving changed her life.
Remembering the YouTube video that first inspired her, she said, “It showed two girls diving into department store containers.
“I didn’t think they’d have a chance of finding something good, but minutes later they opened boxes and boxes of high-end makeup.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought,” I have to try. “
A few days later, Tiffany ventured out in the middle of the night to examine the contents of the dumpsters next to her local department store.
She said, “I went alone and was very scared.
“It was dark and I felt like I was doing something wrong, even though it’s not illegal to dive in dumpsters in Texas.”
She rummaged around in several huge containers and couldn’t believe her luck when she found a large box from cosmetics giant Ulta Beauty.
“I really didn’t think I’d find anything of value,” she continued. “I picked up the box and it was so heavy.
“I tossed it in the back of the car and made my way home.”
She continued, “We opened the box and there was so much unmade makeup – it was amazing.
“Daniel added the retail value and it came in over $ 500 (£ 388).
“He was more shocked than me.”
Tiffany has since committed to tracking down the local dumpsters and has kept a journal of her discoveries.
She said, “I’ve started checking every available dumpster in large retail stores.
“I just traveled through the neighboring areas to get a feel for things.”
She continued, “I soon realized that the best places were shopping parades rather than individual stores, and I noted the days when the bins were emptied and most products were available for purchase.
“I avoid grocery stores at all costs – the smell of rotting fruits and vegetables is too much!”
In just six months, Tiffany had planned two dumpster dive routes that maximized transportation potential.
When she was looking for discarded goodies once a week in early 2018, she turned the project into a full-time job.
“I go every day from Monday to Friday – and have been for two years,” she said.
“I switch between my two routes and spend two to three hours a day diving.”
She continued, “If it’s a bad day, I can be ready in less time – about an hour – and on a good day I could be there a hell of a long time.”
But Tiffany is also very strict when it comes to keeping her days free.
“Weekend diving is strictly prohibited,” she said. “Weekends are family time and not for rummaging through trash cans.”
Describing some of her most expensive finds, Tiffany has salvaged a ninja blender for $ 160 (£ 124), a Michael Kors blouse for $ 82 (£ 64), and a robotic vacuum cleaner for $ 400 (£ 310).
She also knows exactly what to look for and explains, “I’ve learned that the best way to dive is to look out for large boxes or garbage bags.
“That way, stores usually get rid of their discontinued products by packaging them.”
She continued, “It’s a great way to get the most of your time without getting too deep into the dumpster.”
Soon Tiffany was filling her four-bedroom home with salvaged furniture worth $ 3,500 (£ 2,706) – including a sofa, two dressers, curtains, and a trash can – and began selling her surplus in mid-2018.
Tiffany puts the goodies on eBay, the Facebook marketplace, and has good, old-fashioned flea markets. She believes her ventures make her up to $ 2,500 a month.
A key to their success is selling the items at a great price.
She said, “The kids all love it – my two, Mia and Ruxton, as well as Daniel’s kids from a previous relationship, all came along at some point.
“It’s a real family outing, even though they’re usually all just sitting in the car and watching, they don’t dive.”
She continued, “They’re just looking for toys that I shouldn’t miss.”
And last November, at the suggestion of Daniel’s daughter, she started logging her dives on social media.
Now, less than a year later, she calls herself Dumpster Diving Mama and has over 450,000 followers – 400,000 of them on the video sharing platform TikTok.
She said, “I honestly never thought it would be this popular, but people can’t get enough.
“I shared a couple of videos from my dives that got a couple hundred likes, and when the lockdown started, it all started.
“I think people had nothing to do but scroll the internet.”
She concluded, “I just hope I don’t encourage too many people to dive in dumpsters. The monthly income is a real boost and I don’t want too much competition!”