Le Comprehensive Guide To Dumpster Diving, Part Tres

Le Junque

Le Comprehensive Guide to Dumpster Diving, Part Tres

Complete Guide to Dumpster Diving Part 3 Redouxinteriors

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”…..

Legal Precedent

  • 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 dumpster 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!

This concludesLe Comprehensive Guide to Dumpster Diving, Part Tres



  1. Suzan

    C’est part trois!!!! ( pas part tres ) lol
    Great post –

  2. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.

    Your dumpster diving adventures never cease to amaze and delight me! And yes, I’m a little bit scared too!

  3. Karen H

    What is a dumpster cage? Have I seen one and not known it? It sounds like something that would be locked.

  4. Monica Foster

    Great advice! I agree with you, the most important thing is to believe you will find stuff. Having worked in a big box store, I can tell you why the stuff gets compacted before going to garbage. If the item is damaged, the manufacturer doesn’t want it (or to pay freight to get it) back, and they can write it off as a loss. The store can claim reimbursement, but only if it is guaranteed to be destroyed and not sold at a discount (double dipping). It’s heartbreaking, I know, to see perfectly good broken stuff get crushed beyond repair, but it’s a legal thing.
    Love your blog, GTC, and all your junque-ing adventures!

  5. debbiedoos

    I have a funny story about dumster diving a few years back. We were driving in the car and saw a bunch of loot, so I had my husband pull over. My son at the time was about 7….HE totally freaked and said we were stealing..the neighbors actually came outside because he was howling so bad. I will never forget that. Needless to say the people said yes please take it and then he was fine LOL.

  6. Emmylou

    Loved your articles on dumpster diving and thought i would share some knowledge. Most of the Big Box store have to send displays and furniture back to the manufacturer if they are damged, so those cant be taken by the public. Also, the stacks of empty pallets that are usually behind the stores get sent back to distribution centers to be reused, so cant take those either : (

  7. Beja @ Howdy Honey

    OH MY GOODNESS! I had no idea were such a JUNKY! Seriously… I have been driving around local neighborhoods on bulk pick up day, and I get a funny feeling like I am a trash picker. I feel like there is another level to achieve…

  8. Kathy Bostick

    Great article. I used to dumpster dive regularly. I once furnished my entire house with everything I needed, except beds, by dumpster diving. All I did with the furniture was spray it for any bugs that might have taken up residence in the furniture. My greatest find was 9 silk shirts (real silk), 6 pair of dress shoes, a working sewing machine, a fully stocked sewing kit, and 14 different types and colors of large fabric pieces.

    I also knew a person who dumpster dived regularly and would resell the stuff she got at a yard sale every month. She made between 300 and 600 dollars at each yard sale she held!

    • GTC

      Thank you so much for sharing those amazing finds Kathy! I love to hear what people find Dumpster diving. I love that you furnished your whole house with things that someone considered trash! I can’t believe someone would throw out 9 silk shirts and 6 pairs of dress shoes! I make a modest income on fixing up some things I find thrown out and reselling them. The way I see it, it is a win-win for everybody!

  9. Plantladydeb

    I live in California and the police here do not let you dumpster dive. They said there is a city ordinance against it. There is a hospice thrift store that throws out tons of good stuff and they don’t care bit the police will stop you if they see you! It is so wrong. The dumpster is in a public location also.

    • GTC

      Really? Wow, that it is so tragic about not being able to rescue things from Dumpsters! That is really unusual. My husband is an attorney and we have searched for laws that do not allow it. That is a rare case!

  10. credit card match

    What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preservenbess of precious know-how
    on the topic off unpredicted feelings.

  11. Holly A

    I have had super success dumpster diving completely by accident just because my dog wanted so many walks and my husband was working nights and sleeping days. To keep Kilo quiet I would roam around my neighborhoods all day with him and we would see all these great treasures being thrown out. I live in a condo complex with 9 dumpsters and a near by neighborhood has houses which are just dated enough to have construction going on throughout the spring and summer….We quickly learned all the trash pick up times and now it is a sport for us. I made $700 in one week selling stuff I found on craigslist. I was a residential remodeler before an injury and since I have “retired” I use my tools to repair furniture and I sell it for a good price and profit. It’s lots of fun and I meet interesting people!


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