I was watching NBC Nightly news on TV tonight (Sunday Night) and they had a college professor who dumpster dives for himself and charity. He says he tries to see how little he can live on and demonstrates in his house how many things he got for free.
When I was in college I found many people who were short on cash used to do the same thing. However, the people I knew were mostly looking for food at that time. They found an organic produce warehouse and many of the things didn't sell to retail stores in time but still were good like organic mushrooms, organic lettuce, organic black cherries etc. etc. etc.
There is also anything that people throw away that isn't useful to the person that threw it away but might be useful to someone else. There may still be some dumps in the country that allow scavenging still. Most dumps in California don't allow this anymore but your state might not have laws against this. Also, the bigger the dumpster the more likely you will find something good that someone doesn't need that you can use, donate or even sell for money to buy food or whatever.
Tonight they showed on NBC NIghtly News people in a fast growing tent city outside of Sacramento, California. For years other states have turfed their homeless to San Francisco, California so they wouldn't be a nuisance in their states and because San Francisco is much kinder and less abusive in general than most other cities in regard to homeless people.
However, there is a limit to the kindness and tolerance of any group of people no matter how civil and populist they tend to be.
Another idea that my family found useful while struggling in the university, garage sales. For example, we were renting a large old house and I hated the old orange living room carpet so one night I just had had it with the carpet and threw it out in the snow in the front yard. That was all my then wife needed at that time. The next day she went to a garage sale and got a really beautiful white thick wool carpet for $25 the next day. Everyone was happy and all I had to do was to throw the old orange carpet into my window van and take it to the dump. Everyone was very happy.
At times we found then we could get really great furniture at garage sales and furnish a whole house that way including appliances for almost nothing.
Another idea is if fruit comes into bloom in your neighborhood it doesn't hurt to ask the residents there or the owners if they are going to pick the fruit. Sometimes, they will let you pick it all in return for half of the fruit or they don't want it and are glad you are taking it because it is less for them to clean up off the ground later.
These are all great ideas for the times we live in now.
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