Matt Malone has a well-paying security specialist career and owns a promising startup business. Yet if you want to track him down after hours, you'll need to peek inside a bunch of Texas dumpsters. The 37-year-old Austin man told Randall Sullivan, writing for Wired, that he's made a killing moonlighting as a dumpster-diver, extracting an astonishing amount of "treasure" that he can either use for his own hobbies or refurbish and resell. He's gotten it down to a science, creating spreadsheets for inventory, figuring out when garbage day is for each target site, and mapping out particularly lucrative locations, like big-box retailers, college campuses (rich kids throw out lots of stuff, he claims), storage facilities, and stores going out of business or undergoing a remodel. His vocation has paid off big time: He says if he chose to make it his full-time job, he'd make at least $250,000 a year.
Malone started what he calls his "for-profit archaeologist" career nine years ago when he had to pick through the trash of a client for a security job. He was amazed at his first haul—a line of discontinued printers from OfficeMax, still in their boxes—and was hooked. He's picked up plenty of tips along the way from other divers, including focusing on consumables (e.g., paper, toner) rather than just big-ticket items, and knows to "move along" if cops ask him to. He takes special pleasure in offering typically expensive finds for much-lower prices to people who couldn't afford them otherwise. Sullivan, who went with him on a couple of "dives," predicts Malone could actually pull in about $600,000 per year if every night was as productive as the ones he tagged along on. So why doesn't Malone just troll for trash full time? He says he likes his day job. (Must be something about Texas dumpsters—this professor redecorated one to live in.)