A MUM claims the cost of living crisis has forced her to 'dumpster dive' – collecting £200 worth of Christmas presents by trawling through bins outside shops.
Rachael Collins goes searching through bins outside homeware and charity shops twice a week looking for ornaments and clothes that she usually either sells, gives to friends or keeps for herself and son Charlie, seven.
However the 42-year-old says that this year she's found £200 worth of games, furnishings and candles that she plans on wrapping up and giving away as Christmas gifts.
She says that dumpster diving has helped ease the pressure throughout the festive period as money wasn't stretching far enough.
Rachael, from Preston, Lancs, said: "I feel pressure around Christmas and this has really helped me this year.
"I started dumpster diving recently because of money, it's out of necessity. Money wasn't lasting through the month.
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"I've saved around £200 on Christmas gifts. I found an operation game, Minecraft stuff and I've done Charlie's bedroom up so I've found some stuff for there. I found brand new nerf guns for my son and nephews.
"We found Yankee candles, wax melts and L'Occitane products. The stuff I find is really good.
"It does vary but on average I probably find four items at a time. Other times there's been lots of stuff and sometimes there's nothing.
"I keep some crates in the back of my car and I've got a basement so I rotate and work out what I'm going to do with the stuff.
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"You can always go and find a few bits. I'll definitely be doing it for life."
The carer estimates she's found around £5,000 worth of stuff since she started rooting through shop bins and she makes around £50 per month selling some of her finds online.
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Rachael wears a headtorch and goes out a 6pm twice per seek to see what she can find and says its 'unbelievable' seeing how much goes to waste.
Rachael said: "It's a shock to see how many things go to waste. It's unbelievable. I've probably found £5,000 worth of stuff over the years.
"A lot of stuff I find I pass onto people because everyone is struggling. I always tell them where it's come from.
"Charity shops throw loads of stuff out, they never throw out clothes but they'll chuck out a lot of stuff with tags on that they haven't sold.
"There have been kids bikes helmets that are probably thrown out for safety but there's other stuff and it's really strange.
"I gave away a lot of home furnishings, nice things, vases and plant pots. I'm always bringing stuff home for my son.
"Some of the stuff I'll sell on Facebook marketplace. I do that to make a bit more income and it really helps because money was not lasting.
"I'm fortunate to do this and work but there are people that are really struggling this Christmas. Families are sat in the cold and businesses are throwing out stuff. It makes me really sad."
Rachael says her dad taught her not to let things go to waste when she was a child but she started rummaging through bins after seeing students leave clothes and furniture behind at the end of term.
Rachael said: "My dad always used to find things and sell them. We lived in a hoarder house so I never really let anything go to waste.
"I live in an area where there's lots of students who put out what they don't want to take home so I've been doing that for a long time.
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"There were lots of clothes, really good stuff that I could sell like Levi jeans and Topshop clothes.
"I find stuff and I know I can give it to a friend."
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