I have received so many questions regarding how to achieve successful dumpster diving, and where to find good trash, that I decided a Part Tres was necessary. If you missed the previous installments, you can find them here at Part Un and Part Deux. They are both must reads for the best trash finding experiences.
In these posts I cover the basics of what you will want to have on hand for a successful dive, the best places to go, and even times of day.
Today, I am going to cover some of the questions that have been coming up:
From Reader Carla:I have a question, which I am tossing out to you and to anyone who wants to chime in — do you just drive around the backs of places like Wal-Mart or wherever, and take what is put out by the dumpster? I’ve asked managers of such places before and they do NOT want me relieving them of what they see as trash, but I disagree! Any techniques or advice on finding such things?
GTC: I don’t frequent the backs of too many big box stores such as Target, Walmart and the likes. HUGE stores such as these almost always have ginormous trash compactors that anything damaged from the store, immediately goes into these giant contraptions, and never will make contact with an actual dumpster.
From Reader Rita: I would love to do what you do, but I have no idea where to find these neat bits of junk. I’d be wary of driving behind a store to “relieve” them of their broken/cast off goodies or climb in a dumpster because I’d be afraid they’d call the police. No problem?????
GTC: I drive behind stores at suburban shopping strips, office complexes, and even industrial areas. The best “stuff” I have found is often behind a flooring store or furniture store. The flooring store dumps here because often they take “away the junk” clients no longer want, after they have their beautiful new floors installed. Remember my Prince Junque from last week? Yes, flooring stores.
Cheap furniture stores often dump furniture that is slightly broken, hasn’t sold, or is just plain ugly. Going to the cheap, outlet type places is key here. The high end stores will also have the ginormous trash compactors. Their junque is too good for the likes of a dumpster apparently.
As far as police are concerned, garbage is considered “public property”. If you are dumping, and there are signs that clearly state, “No illegal dumping”, well, then you are clearly breaking the law. Pulling stuff out of dumpsters, even climbing into them and pulling stuff out is 100% legal.
Bottom line, use your common sense. If the dumpster cage is locked and you find a way in, you are looking for trouble. If you are trespassing on private property, where it is clearly marked, expect some complications. Other than that, as far as the State Supreme Court of California is concerned, “my junque is your junque”…..
The Supreme Court ruling in California v. Greenwood establishes a basis for the legality of dumpster diving. The suspect, Greenwood, argued that since the evidence used to convict him of drug violations was found in his garbage, it was private property protected from warrantless search under the 4th Amendment. The Court ruled against Greenwood, stating that leaving trash in an area “particularly suited for public inspection” nullifies an expectation of privacy because, “it is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left along a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.”
Not all trash can be legally examined and taken. Taking trash from private property can violate trespassing laws. Another factor is whether or not residents or property owners take steps that demonstrate their expectation of privacy, such as placing the trash bins in secure locations or placing locks on their lids. It also depends on what type of trash is in question. For example, it is illegal to take items from designated recycling bins under California law.
BTW:The compactors always look something like this, and no, I have never gone in after something headed for the compactor…..(in case you were wondering)
I often get asked, how do you know where to look?
Answer: I look ALL THE TIME. It has become 2nd nature to scan the road as I drive. Something you can teach yourself to do! Be flexible and willing to change your plans (not like cancel on someone), but your errands for the day if you come across something really good and it is either the furniture or groceries.
I don’t spend my day peaking in dumpsters, I really only spend about 10-15 minutes per day, about 4-5 days a week. Most of the time, I don’t even get out of my car. I don’t go out of my way to search, I just make it a habit to keep my eyes open for dumspter cages, and always at the beginning and end of the month, and most Saturdays, I check one or two Apartment complexes.
The true secret to success to dumpster diving and curbside shopping? Believe that you will find things. Trust me, this didn’t happen overnight, but with each additional thing I have found, I really believe there is more and more good stuff all the time just waiting to be found. Trust me, we live in a very disposable world. With a little bit of an open mind, you will start finding your “junque” too.
Finally, one of the biggest reader questions I get is, “Where do you keep it all”. Well…….you can read all about THAT in HERE . Here is the state of my garage a few months ago. It got better for a while, but I am afraid I slipped and it became even worse! You will have to stay tuned for next week’s edition to see those pics and my plans…….
I hope this cleared up a lot of junk about where to find good junque!