Is It Legal to ‘Dumpster Dive’ in Indiana?
With the high cost of everything these days, more and more people are turning to what some may consider unorthodox solutions for paying the bills and keeping food on the table, including dumpster diving.
What Is Dumpster Diving
For those unfamiliar with dumpster diving, it is the act of rummaging through trash to find goods, merchandise, and even food that can either be kept for use or sold to make a profit. There are even entire Facebook groups and YouTube & TikTok channels dedicated to dumpster diving.
What Can You Find When Dumpster Diving?
It doesn't take much effort to find videos online of people who regularly dumpster dive. Many of them find new or like-new merchandise that they can keep for personal use, or as many seem to do, they sell it to make a profit. Others show what its like to dive for food items like bread and produce.
Is Dumpster Diving Ethical or Moral?
There are those who may consider dumpster diving to be immoral or unethical, and may even view it as stealing. However, when you look at the statistics, it could be argued that dumpster divers positively impact our environment. In 2020, the e-commerce protection platform, Sygnifyd, reported that an estimated 5 billion pounds of retail goods end up in landfills after being returned to stores.
Five billion pounds of returned goods end up in U.S. landfills each year. Often times, returned items are damaged on the way back, enough for a retailer to justify throwing it out over paying for it to be cleaned, repaired and returned to the shelves.
Clothes & Textiles Take Up a Lot of Room in Landfills
When it comes to clothes and textiles, TheRoundUp.org reports that in the United States, 66% of unwanted clothes and textiles end up in landfills. Perhaps those who dumpster dive are creating a more sustainable environment.
Food Waste Statistics Are Astronomical
According to OnlineDasher.com the amount of food thrown away by retailers and grocers is a staggering statistic. They say the average American grocery store throws away thousands of dollars of food each week and combined, equates to a whopping 16 billion pounds of food waste across the country. Where does it go? Landfills.
Is It Legal to Dumpster Dive in Indiana?
Morals and ethics aside, is it legal to dumpster dive in Indiana? Under certain circumstances, the answer to that question is yes. If the dumpster or trash receptacle is placed at the curb or on a sidewalk, there is no assumption of ownership to those items and they can be taken. However, if the dumpster is on private property, you could be arrested for trespassing, according to DumpsterDiving.info.
Dumpster diving is not illegal in Indiana states, just like in all 50 states across the U.S. If a dumpster is located in a public space, such as a sidewalk or curb designated for pickup, you are well within your rights to dive in and salvage whatever catches your eye. Essentially, when items are discarded in public dumpsters in Indiana, individuals or businesses relinquish their ownership rights.
Nonetheless, it is crucial to be careful while handling dumpsters situated on personal land. If you attempt to rummage through a dumpster located on private premises in Indiana, you may face charges of trespassing or even theft.
The site goes on to point out that if you spot a "no trespassing" sign it's best to steer clear. Also, any dumpster that is locked or surrounded by any kind of fencing should be avoided as well.
Safety When Dumpster Diving
If you decide you want to give dumpster diving a try, you may want to take some precautions as dumpsters are not the safest places to be hanging out. Since you never know what you might find, closed-toed shoes and gloves are a good idea, and it may also be a good time to implement the buddy system, just in case something goes wrong.
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Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals