What Is Dumpster Diving?

If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve encountered one or two posts from accounts promoting dumpster diving. People are digging through the trash to find everything from food and clothing to personal hygiene products and home décor. You may be wondering why this is a big deal. People without means have done this for a very long time. Today’s divers are a little different…

Defining Dumpster Diving

According to Google, dumpster dive is a verb that means to search through dumpsters of similar trash receptacles for edible food or items of value. Other terms with the same meaning are curb shopping, trash picking, street scavenging, totting, skipping, and skip diving. While many people do this out of necessity due to poverty, an increasing number of blogsReddit threadsDiscord chatsInstagram accounts, and more recently TikTok videos are evidence of the popularity of dumpster diving for profit. Search “dumpster diving” on any social platform and you’ll find accounts dedicated to dumpster hauls.

Where Do You Dive?

According to Treasure Pursuits, a blog dedicated to finding rare and unique items, the best places to dumpster dive are affluent neighborhoods, college dorms, retail stores, apartment complexes, electronics stores, bakeries, swap meets, florists, and more. Many divers post huge hauls from retail stores like Bath and Body Works, GameStop, and local grocery stores.

Dumpster Diving Mama

With over 2.3 million followers, Tiffany She’ree, aka dumpsterdivingmama, is perhaps the most well-known dumpster diver. Recently, her exploits have been covered by a variety of news agencies. She has accounts on TikTokInstagram, and Youtube where she shares videos of her amazing dumpster diving hauls. She sells, keeps, or donates her finds. Her first find? A box of makeup worth $1,500 from an Ulta dumpster.

Is Dumpster Diving Legal?

You may be thinking that if something has been discarded in the trash, it’s fair game, right? If a store is getting rid of promotional materials, products that didn’t sell, or food that is near or past its sell-by date, you may think it’s basically free. But before you go digging through that bin, there are a few legalities you should consider.

Check Local Laws

Look for garbage ordinances on state and county websites. Dumpster diving is technically legal in all 50 states, according to Findlaw.com. However, you must check county and city laws for garbage ordinances. You should also research the laws surrounding restaurants and businesses in your area.

Private Property

It is illegal to access a dumpster that is on private property without permission. That is considered trespassing and may result in getting ticketed or arrested.

Warning Signs and Locked Dumpsters

Any bin that is locked or contains signage that indicates the container is off-limits is not a place for you to explore. The signs can be used in court as evidence that you disobeyed the owner’s warnings.

Disorderly Conduct

The act of dumpster diving can be seen as inappropriate conduct in public and yield a warning, ticket or arrest.

Should You Try Dumpster Diving?

While we can understand the allure of obtaining freebies from businesses through their dumpsters, social media makes it look a lot better than the reality. Businesses of all kinds discard items that can be hazardous, not to mention disgusting. Our dumpsters are generally used for true trash from companies, contractors, and individuals. This trash should be disposed of properly, and that’s what we do with it. We would hate to see someone get hurt trying to search through the refuse in one of our containers! So, should you try dumpster diving? Our answer is no. Have fun watching the videos online of those who are showing you three good minutes they had during their 9 hours of diving. And if you’re inspired to toss things into a dumpster instead of pulling stuff out, call Oaks Dumpster Rental at 866-649-6257 to rent a roll-off!