NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – You’ve heard that old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” A North Texas woman is taking that to the next level.
“The most expensive thing that I found was at World Market,” Tiffany Butler told CBS 11. “A $3,000 armoire.”
The mom of four is known as The Dumpster Diving Mama on social media. She makes videos of her hauls across the area and shares them with her 2.2 million TikTok followers, as well as viewers on Instagram and YouTube. She shows the “do’s and don’ts.”
“You can’t go if there’s a private property sign, you can’t go if there’s a no trespassing sign and if it’s locked,” she said.
Dumpster diving is often risky, and legally there are a lot of gray areas. At the national and state level the act itself isn’t illegal, but laws vary between cities and counties. Trespassing is also a problem. Many dumpsters are behind stores in shopping centers, and that can be considered private property whether there’s a sign up or not. For Butler, it’s a lucrative business. It’s now her full-time job.
“I just started doing it, then having garage sales,” Butler said. “Then after I got on TikTok, I built my website.”
Butler has an entire storage unit dedicated to items she finds from diving and from hitting warehouse sales. It all has to be sorted out to go up for sale on her website, at a deep discount over retail prices. Her finds include unused makeup, pet products, furniture and even baby supplies. While she cashes in about $1,000 a week from her finds, she said it’s not all about making money. It’s also about raising awareness when it comes to waste. She’s found everything from dumpsters full of frozen food to high end purses.
Back in August, Butler found a dumpster full of Coach bags. All of them had been slashed. She sold them to a fellow diver and activist out of New York City who made a video that went viral. Coach even responded saying they’re ceasing the practice, and will implement solutions to responsibly repurpose, recycle and reuse excess or damaged products.
For Butler, a typical night out diving can take anywhere from eight to nine hours.
“I always get the comment ‘well you got it for free!’” Butler said. “My gas is not free, my truck was not free, my insurance we not free, my time is not free. If you want it for free, go do it yourself.”