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Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in California?

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in California

Lately, many YouTubers, influencers, and Vloggers have set the dumpster diving trend on fire. 

If you live in California and are impressed with the fad of dumpster diving, you must have been interested in finding out its legality. Right? A query that might have irritated you the most is, “Is dumpster diving illegal in California?”

So, here we have compiled all you need to know about dumpster diving in California. Let’s dive deep into it.

Dumpster Diving in California 

Have you ever heard the adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”?

If yes, you’ll have no problem understanding the dumpster diving game in California. You may take dumpster diving as anything. Like, a top trend, a hobby, a fair habit towards sustainability, etc.

When it comes to dumpster diving in California, there’s so much that can keep you thinking about whether you should be adopting the trend or not.

Say, the California rules, the adventurous nature of the dive, the profit you may generate with it, you get the idea?

No matter the motive behind your adopting dumpster diving, one thing is for sure, if you decide to dumpster dive in California, it will be a rewarding experience.

California is a lively state and known for its lenient policy of “Do as you please!” But does the same rule apply to dumpster diving? We’ll explore it in the upcoming sections of the blog post. But, let us first tell you that dumpster diving is a lifestyle of most Americans. Can you believe that?

According to a Statista report in 2017,  approximately 66% of Americans dumpster dive to look for something useful.

Dumpster Diving in California 

Dumpster Diving Laws in California

In this section, we’d throw a little light on the dumpster diving laws in California and provide some insights into the legal status of the activity.

First off, you need to go through all the layers of government governing to find out if dumpster diving is legal in your state or county or not. Because you’ll have to see federal laws first, then state laws, the county laws, and your local ordinances.

According to the dumpster diving laws and 1988’s Supreme Court Ruling in California vs. Greenwood…

“When the trash is discarded in a public place, there’s no expectation of privacy.”

In the US, every city or state has different rules regarding dumpster diving. So does California.

Dumpster Diving Laws in California

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in California?

Technically, dumpster diving is NOT illegal in California. But, as mentioned earlier, there are different laws in every county and city. For example:

Sacramento city has no soft spot for Scavenging, even if the trash is dumped in a public place! On the other hand, Sacramento city also has its code regarding the Scavenging that states that the commercial waste that’s lawfully discarded in the bins is the property of the business that discarded those items.

Moreover, the businesses in Sacramento County must keep their bins and dumpsters to prevent Scavenging.

In other scenarios, a few dumpster divers might get charged with Trespassing when there is a “No trespassing” sign.

A bit about Trespassing now…

Trespassing is someone entering someone’s land or property without their consent.

According to the Sacramento laws, a dumpster diver won’t get arrested for diving, but it’s up to the police officer handling the scene to make a judgment.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in California

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Sacramento, California?

Dumpster diving is technically not illegal in Sacramento, California. You may refer to the 1988’s Supreme Court’s ruling that states that the discarded trash no longer comes under the umbrella of privacy. So, we can say that dumpster diving in California is NOT ILLEGAL California.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Orange County, Ca?

There are NO countywide laws for dumpster diving in California. However, some counties and cities have some ordinances for the activity. So, the dumpster divers might have to face getting issued a ticket and, in some rarest cases, get arrested, but it’s not illegal in Orange County.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Bakersfield, California?

Well, it’s not dumpster diving. The activity that is considered to be illegal in Bakersfield, California, is dumpster scavenging. But the thing is, the police can’t make it a top priority. So, the dumpster divers get the room to continue their Bakersfield activities.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Modesto, Ca?

Again, there’s no prohibition on the activity in Modesto, Ca, but the nature of the activity itself might involve some legal concerns about Trespassing and other privacy concerns.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Riverside County, California?

In Riverside County, dumpster diving is not illegal. However, most of the dumpster divers might break local municipal laws, and they might get themselves in trouble. The lawbreakers can face criminal prosecution under the local laws of Riverside County.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Vacaville, CA?

Just like other cities in California, dumpster diving has no legal restrictions in Vacaville as well, only if the dumpster diver doesn’t violate the municipality laws. Moreover, suppose the search is not subject to any other legal protections. In that case, it’s legal for dumpster divers to dive into the trash – no matter the reason or motivation behind it.

Best Places to Go Dumpster Diving in California

Walmart, Home Depot, and Menards are some of the best places to dumpster dive in California.

However, if we specifically talk about one of the hottest places for dumpster diving in Los Angeles, California. Below are some of the best places for you to dumpster dive in Los Angeles, California:

  1. The Grove
  2. LA Fashion District
  3. Melrose Trading Post
  4. Danny’s Dancers Warehouse
  5. Wasteland
Best Places to Go Dumpster Diving in California

The Potential Amount of Money You Can Make Dumpster Diving in California 

Dumpster diving is a great way to make money. According to Wired – a monthly American magazine, Malon, who’s devoted his life to If you’re not sure about it, here are some reasons why:

  1. Dumpster diving is free! You don’t have to pay for anything.
  • You can find almost anything in dumpsters, from food to clothes and electronics.
  • You can sell what you find for cash or barter with it for other things that you need.
  • Dumpster diving is easy! It doesn’t require special skills or equipment—just your hands and eyes (and maybe a flashlight).

Best Time to Dumpster Dive in California 

So, by far, you have gathered enough knowledge about the dumpster diving laws in each county of California and have also understood the potential money it can make you. Hence, let’s talk about the best time to dumpster dive in California.

Based on our research and gathering information from many dumpster divers in California, we suggest that early in the morning, right after sunrise is the best time to dive into dumpsters.

The reason?

Because it’s when there would be fewer employees around to disturb your dive, also, if you are into dumpster diving for food, then chances are you can gather some of the best stuff as it’s the time when most of the grocery stores would dump their previous day’s food items.

Tips for Dumpster Diving in California

Dumpster diving in California is a great way to make money, but it’s not without risks. If you want to keep your safety and your wallet intact, here are some tips for dumpster diving in California.

First, find out what your local laws are regarding dumpster diving. You don’t want to get arrested!

Always wear gloves when you’re digging through trash, and make sure that any cuts or scrapes on your hands are covered up. You don’t want to catch anything from the trash!

Wear protective gear like goggles and a hat to protect yourself from injuries and eye infections.

Check out the area first. You don’t want to dive into a dumpster full of rats or other vermin! Look around first and make sure there aren’t any creepy crawlies nearby; if there are, it might be best to move on and try another spot.

Make sure you’ve got something with which to carry away all your finds—a bag or a basket will work well for this purpose.

Finally, always remember: when dumpster diving in California, safety first!

Tips for Dumpster Diving in California

Final Words:

There you have it! Hopefully, the query you had in your mind – Is dumpster diving illegal in California.

Dumpster diving is more than a trend. It’s a lifestyle. Moreover, dumpster diving is a great way to save money on groceries. Dumpster diving is no longer considered to be a stinky trait. It’s a very cool name – freegans! Cool, no?