Schools Out: Dumpster Divin’ Time

dumpster-diver_colorIt’s that time of year when the college students and spring cleaners of Corvallis are getting ready to throw out their old furniture and unwanted items. Driving around town, it’s easy to find a couch or table or other roadside item with an improvised “free” sign. Many of us would be halted, at least, by the opportunity to haul a La-Z-Boy in fair condition from someone’s lawn. But there are others that go to greater extremes, those called “dumpster divers.”

What is the appeal of rummaging through another’s trash, especially in Corvallis, where the act is illegal? The answer is college. The waste left behind by departing students has been said to range from perfectly good school supplies to salvageable bulk foods and brand new electronics. These have been found in the dumpsters surrounding Greek housing (around 26th Street and Harrison) and other hot spots, like the alleys between 1st and 2nd streets, and larger apartment complexes.

A city ordinance from 2015 deems the “removal of solid waste prohibited” and allows no person—besides the generator of said waste, or permitted city officer or employee—interference with any franchise-serviced solid waste receptacle. The obvious reason: dumpster diving is unsanitary. As much as throwing away perfectly good items is wasteful.

Though electronics are known to be found by dumpster divers in Corvallis, throwing away things like computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, and printers is actually illegal in Oregon, and those caught face a $500 fine per improperly disposed item. These types of electronics (among other things) can alternatively be taken to the Republic Services Corvallis Depot, the Benton Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Corvallis’ Goodwill, or the Coffin Butte Landfill.

As far as clothes and other personal items, drop-offs and donations are accepted by the Heartland Humane Society, the OSU Folk Club, and Jackson Street Youth Shelter. The Humane Society accepts such items as scrap gold and vehicles, while food donations and kitchen items can be taken to the Linn-Benton Food Share. As for furniture, residents can call The Arc or Corvallis Furniture for pick-up of (repairable) household items such as dressers, nightstands, bed frames, desks, chairs, mini-fridges, microwaves, lamps—and the list goes on.

Perhaps more alternatives could be explored by the Corvallis community as well, like an annual volunteer-run “swap shed” modeled after other cities, where people take unwanted items for trade. Really, any alternative sounds more appealing than rooting through the neighbor’s trash, or letting well-conditioned or non-compostable materials slowly rot in some landfill adding to the Earth’s degradation. Residents this year are encouraged to consider, before lifting that stinking lid, gifting their unwanted items to places where people in need will find them.

Visit the Linn Benton Food Share at For a full list of acceptable household items for pick-up, visit Corvallis Furniture at To learn about The Arc’s services, call 541-754-9011. For more information on e-cycling, visit Do a Google search for “Corvallis Thrift Store Donations” for a full directory of donation sites.


By Kelsey Murray