A self-described “dumpster diving mama" has boosted her income by $2,500 a month, and gained 400,000 fans who follow her on social media, after turning her hand to salvaging and selling “garbage" discarded by major stores.
Tiffany Butler, was a stay-at-home mom when she watched a video of dumpster diving in 2017, and was inspired to take it up as a hobby before making it a lucrative career.
Butler now has two lucrative "bin routes" mapped out and spends up to three hours a day, from Monday to Friday, dumpster diving. Finding everything from food blenders to designer blouses worth hundreds of dollars.
Turning other people's trash into profit, she sells most of her finds for 25 per cent of their retail value online.
“At first you get such a high out of the diving that you take anything and everything," Butler said.
“But it got to the point where my whole house – and the garage – was overflowing with stuff. Now I only take things I know I will use or can make a profit on."
Tiffany (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We usually Google the retail price then knock 75 per cent off," she continued.
“I don't mind, I haven't paid for them and it feels good helping people bag some bargains!"
Butler says discovering dumpster diving changed her life.
“It showed two girls who were diving into department store bins," she said, recalling the YouTube video that first inspired her.
“I didn't think they had a chance of finding anything good, but minutes later they were opening up boxes and boxes of high-end make-up."
“I couldn't believe it. I thought to myself, 'I've got to try this.'"
A blender Tiffany rescued from the bin (PA Real Life/Collect)
So, a few days later, Butler ventured out in the middle of the night to explore the contents of the dumpsters beside her local department store.
“I went on my own and was quite scared," she said.
“It was dark and I felt like I was doing something wrong, even though it's not illegal to dumpster dive in Texas."
A salvaged Michael Kors blouse (PA Real Life/Collect)
Rummaging around in several massive bins, she could not believe her luck when she found a large box from cosmetic giant Ulta Beauty.
“I genuinely didn't think I would find anything worthwhile," she continued.
“I picked up the box and it was so heavy. I chucked it in the back of the car and made my way home."
Make-up salvaged from a commercial bin (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We opened the box and there was so much discontinued make-up – it was unbelievable," she continued.
“Daniel was adding up the retail value and it came to over $500. He was more shocked than me."
By now committed to scoping out the local dumpsters, Butler also kept a journal of her discoveries.
“I started checking every available dumpster at big retail stores," she said.
“I just travelled about the neighboring areas, getting a feel for stuff."
Tiffany showcasing her salvaged make-up (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I soon realized the best places were shopping parades, rather than individual stores and made a note of the days when bins were emptied and when they had the most products to grab," she said.
“I avoid food stores at all costs – the smell of rotting fruit and veg is too much!"
After just six months, Tiffany had mapped out two dumpster diving routes, which maximized the haul potential.
Tiffany's garage – full of loot (PA Real Life/Collect)
At first going once a week in search of discarded goodies, a year into her venture, at the beginning of 2018, she made the project a full-time job.
“I go every day, without fail, from Monday to Friday – and have been doing that for two years," she said.
“I alternate between my two routes, spending two to three hours a day on the dives. If it's a bad day, I can be done in less time – about an hour – and on a good day I could be there a hell of a while."
But Butler is very strict about keeping her days off, too.
“Weekend diving is strictly off limits," she said. “Weekends are family time and not for rummaging around in bins."
Salvaged floor steamer (PA Real Life/Collect)
Describing some of her most expensive finds, Tiffany has salvaged a $160 Ninja Blender, $82 Michael Kors blouse and $400 robotic vacuum cleaner.
“I've learnt the best way to dive is to look out for big boxes or bin bags," she said.
“That's how the stores normally get rid of their discontinued products, by packing them up. It's a great way to get the most out of your time, without getting too deep into the dumpsters."
Soon filling her four-bedroom house with what she estimates to be $3,500 worth of salvaged furniture including a sofa, two chests of drawers, curtains and a litter bin by mid-2018 Butler started selling her surplus haul.
Putting the goodies on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and having good old-fashioned garage sales, Tiffany believes she makes up to $2,500 a month from her ventures.
A reclaimed trash can (PA Real Life/Collect)
A key to her success is selling the items at a knock-down price.
"The kids all love it. My two, Mia and Ruxton, as well as Daniel's children, have all come along at some point," she said.
“It a real family outing, although they usually all just sit in the car and watch, they don't dive. They're just looking out for any toys they don't want me to miss."
In November last year, at Daniel's daughter's suggestion, she started logging her dives on social media.
Less than a year later, calling herself Dumpster Diving Mama, she has over 450,000 followers.
Salvaged dog food (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I honestly never thought it would be so popular, but people can't get enough," she said.
“I shared a few videos of my dives, which got a few hundred likes, then at the start of lockdown it all took off. I guess people had nothing to do but scroll through the internet."
Daniel and Tiffany (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I just hope I don't encourage too many people to dumpster dive. The monthly income is a real boost and I don't want too much competition!" she concluded.
To keep up with Butler's dumpster dives, follow her on @dumpsterdivingmama.