- For pay-cut reporters: Everyone loves to make fun of the overeducated freegans who go through the trash for food, but it's not so crazy when you realize how much good grub is thrown away—and how you recently got a pay cut! There was a time in which my partner in crime and I obtained most of our food from the dumpster of a suburban Detroit trader Joe's. Lessons learned:
It's been said before in the nauseating Times trend piece, but discarded groceries are perfectly good, just check the expiration date and be careful about meats. It helps to have one person do the garbage-picking and the other drive the getaway car. Security often roams the dumpters for this very reason—or even locks them up, which is a crime against humanity. Hide or loiter until they go away. (Never got food poisoning once, which is more than I can say about Cafe Gitane.)
- For cub reporters: Need hot docs on a workplace? Dumpster diving is again the best way to get information on whatever you're trying to case, provided that they're not smart enough to shred. It's harder in an urban setting with huge office buildings, but try the recycling bin or Xerox discardings in that case. In suburban or rural areas, simply driving up to the building on a Sunday and taking garbage bags out of the dumpster can often get you information on everything from internal memos to payroll information. Occasionally, some of these documents might be smeared with ketchup, and you will sit in your motel room off I-87 and wonder why you didn't go to law school.
- For bored and laid-off reporters: Of course, there's the Chinatown Garbage Tour, in which revelers are led down Mott Street alleyways, scavenging fish heads and random furry bits in order to make a fun "monster" taxidermy project—or to simply say "fuck you" to the world.
Also, the Strand tosses out the dollar books they didn't sell in order to make room for new ones. There! Something for downsized employees to do with their free time. Happy hunting.
Page Six is reporting that somebody is going through celeb trash in order to "bare their secrets," such as the prescription for Mary Louise-Parker's thyroid medication. Surprisingly, that "someone" is not Page Six themselves. We have to congratulate the garbage trawler—that's great shoe-leather reporting. (Maybe it was Village Voice editor Tony Ortega—that's how he got his got his hot Harvey Weinstein scoop!) Since we sadly have a bit of experience in dumpstering, here's a how-to guide on finding interesting things in the trash—especially since the economy's going straight to hell and you might need to.