Should you quit your job and become a dumpster diver?
One Baltimore woman says she’s uncovered a whopping $2 million in unwanted treasure — everything from Le Creuset cookware to a $500 Dyson hairdryer.
Jennifer Lleras, 40, is a busy mom who owns her own marketing firm, earning her a comfortable living.
But when the mother of two was much younger, she developed a somewhat unusual habit that she’s found hard to break.
Her rubbish rummaging journey began back in college, when an art professor suggested dumpster diving as a way to find interesting materials.
Today, she looks after her teenage children and her business, but she still finds plenty of time to stop and browse whenever she drives past a dumpster.
“I go maybe once a week — I just go whenever I’m out running an errand, I’ll go check out the dumpsters,” she told SWNS.
“I find it fun — it’s like treasure hunting.”
Sometimes, the things she finds need a bit of cleaning up or repair, but that doesn’t stop her.
Lleras said that she donates the majority of her haul — everything from unworn clothes to non-perishable food and school supplies — to social services organizations, schools and libraries, but over the years she’s amassed a vast assortment of luxury goods, too.
“Thinking of everything I’ve found, it works out about $100,000 a year. I don’t think it saves me a ton of money because I keep things I like, not things I need,” she said.
Things like Roomba vacuum cleaners, a home security system, a voice-activated trashcan, jewelry, designer handbags, pricey kitchen gadgets — all of it fished out of the dumpster.
“I do keep a bit for myself but I’m not a hoarder,” she promised. “My house isn’t cluttered but if I find things I need or can use, I will hold onto them.”
“I have even gifted dumpster finds to family before — my sister loves when I find decorations and kitchenware to go in her home,” Lleras said.
Dumpster diving isn’t for everyone, she admitted. In some places, it’s flat-out illegal. But not in Maryland, where the laws are “quite relaxed,” she said.
And the wastefulness she observes sometimes leaves her feeling emotional.
“It is really fun but sometimes it does make me sad — once I found a dumpster full of kids art supplies. That really affected me,” Jennifer said.
“It’s really sad that the stores could take this stuff and donate them somewhere they will be used but they don’t. Sometimes the stores even destroy things before they dump then, with paint or bleach, and it breaks my heart.”
“I find that even worse than throwing it away.”
“I do get asked if I’m poor and that’s why I do it, but it’s just a hobby for me,” she said.
“I do it more because I can help others than myself.”