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Do you think Dumpster diving should be illegal?

Asked at Checkers, 2300 La. on July 30, 2005

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Photo of Betty Thoennes

“No. There is so much waste in this country. If someone can recycle something, they might as well.”

Photo of Ron Johnson

“Well, people put their refuse in the garbage. That means they have refused it and aren’t interested what happens to it. I guess maybe someone could get hurt on the property, but I don’t think it should be illegal.”

Photo of Danyel Bell

“No. It’s technically abandoned if they throw it away, but if the Dumpster is on someone’s property, you might be trespassing.”

Photo of Bruce Chladny

“I think it should be illegal because it could be an invasion of privacy and it’s dangerous. There could be hazardous waste in the trash.”

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space_rabbit_kerosene 12 years, 11 months ago

i guess when bruce changes the transmission fluid in his vette he tosses it in the trash right next to the #2 plastic and empty aluminum beer cans.

GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 11 months ago

I'll bet Bruce throws his syringes right in there with all the beer bottles and abandoned furniture when he's done juicin' up.

There's nothing really wrong with it, I suppose! The name 'dumpster diving' really sounds like some kind of extreme sport.

They should call it something more PC like "Refuse Relocation". =)

Richard Heckler 12 years, 11 months ago

My son and his frat brothers now have a foos ball table. My son and his pals saved their parents a few hundred dollars diving around Wednesday.

From the White House Dumpster:

GAO Report Says US Diverting Iraq Humanitarian Funds for Security A new report by the Government Accountability Office released yesterday shows that millions of dollars designated for reconstruction and humanitarian projects in Iraq are being diverted for so-called security operations, draining money from efforts to rebuild water, electricity and health networks. In many cases, security accounts for more than a third of the budget for individual projects and the US is paying individual security contractors up to $33,000 a month. That's nearly $400,000 a year per individual guard. In some cases, humanitarian projects were cancelled to free up funds for security operations elsewhere.

State Department Admits Bolton Didn't Disclose CIA Interview The State Department admitted yesterday that President Bush's nominee for UN ambassador, John Bolton, inaccurately told Congress he had not been interviewed or testified in any investigation over the past five years. Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general as part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency related to alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger. When Bolton filled out a Senate questionnaire in connection with his nomination, Bolton said he didn't recall being interviewed. The response came after Sen. Joseph Biden wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserting Bolton had been interviewed and suggesting he had not been truthful in his questionnaire. For weeks, there has been speculation that president Bush may try to appoint Bolton after the Senate goes into recess today, thus avoiding his nomination being defeated.

Judge Blasts Bush Policies: We Don't Need a 'Secret Military Tribunal' This week, a US District Court Judge in Seattle sentenced Algerian Ahmed Ressam to 22 years in prison. Ressam was convicted of bringing bomb making materials across the Canadian border in December 1999 in an alleged plot to attack the Los Angeles International Airport. The Judge, John Coughenour, who was a Reagan appointee, used Ressam's sentencing as an opportunity to speak out against Bush administration policies. The Judge said, "We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel." He continued, "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart." He added that September 11th made Americans realize they are vulnerable to terrorism and that some believe "this threat renders our Constitution obsolete ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won," the judge said.

emdeees 12 years, 11 months ago

is it still illegal if the "owner" of the trash puts out a sign that says "you are welcome to dig through this stuff i don't care about?" if permission from the "owner" doesn't deter from the legality issue...well than that is just brutally lame, and the law ought to be changed at the soonest possible moment, so that more people can be happy and less people can be criminals.

ms_canada 12 years, 11 months ago

I am sure that this question has been recycled. I remember talking about the name change in England. They call it Bin Diving and it is a big business there as people put out a lot of useful stuff in their bin and there are private recycle people who pick it up, repair it and sell it on. There was a british TV series on this and each show was about a particular reclaimed item and how it was repaired or transformed and then sold. Interesting show it was.

Bill Martin 12 years, 11 months ago

The Law may be absurd, until someone pieces together your info and steals your identity, sure it's your responsibility to make sure all this stuff is properly shredded, there is also the matter of disease, of which there are so many I don't want to get into, if it's someone who can't afford health insurance, the taxpayers pay for it. If you have goodies that you don't want, but are useful, maybe put them beside the dumpster like I've seen many college kids do. The idea of climbing in a dumpster and getting stuck with someone's needle, even though it maybe slightly clean from a diabetic who has no diseases, except for the ones that have now grown on the needle, makes me think common sense would win out over a law against it...but there are always those who do it. (The needles used by diabetics should always be disposed of properly) another you think it's followed religiously? How about a junkie's needle? Kids learn by seeing, you want kids in and out of dumpsters, hopefully that law also provides for negligent parents whose kid has just cut open his arm with broken glass, or stuck with the needle...I don't. I can be serious...yesterday it was a silly question, this is really not if you look at it realistically. The Law it to protect the People. Donate the stuff to the above mentioned charities, leave it beside the dumpster, don't crawl in one.

Bill Martin 12 years, 11 months ago

above comment was aimed at another link on the LJW page, just to clarify the "absurd" comment which was sarcastic on my part. Sarcasm doesn't really translate into written forums sometimes, as you all well know.

Posted by BrianR on July 30 at 6:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Another law that needs to be tossed out with the trash. The law is absurd.

space_rabbit_kerosene 12 years, 11 months ago

tass... i couldn't agree with you more... the law is ABSURD. i have insurance so you needn't worry about paying for any injuries or diseases i acquire while diving through the trash. do i want my kids diving through these dumpsters? my son has a really cool vintage bike, replete with faux leopard skin banana seat, found in a dumpster... the world isn't such a dangerous place... just a foolishly wasteful one. as with all activities a person might engage in, a bit of consciousness is required.

Bill Martin 12 years, 11 months ago

extreme, you must have the same probs I do, I had to boot this guy out of my dumpster with threat of police force, only to go to a "junk yard" to look for widgets for my lava lamp, and he tried to sell me the old ones I threw away! When I threatened to give him one across the lip, he started screaming about Lizard Breath or something.....

Bill Martin 12 years, 11 months ago

space_rabbit, I am glad YOU have the common sense to take care when dumpster diving, I'm glad your son has a cool vintage bike that I was probably riding a similiar one in the 70's, hope he has the high sissy bar! But not all people are so careful, all it takes is one needle stick from a junkie's used up needle, and I HAVE seen them near our dumpster, to be on the triple cocktail or what is now the preferred treatment for possible HIV and you would see your insurance disappear quite rapidly, a family crisis that hopefully would end up being nothing. Like I said, if you have cool stuff to throw out, put it by the dumpster, out of common sense, don't dive in. Oh yeah, and those are not all opossums by the and how many times have I wonder the college boys walking back from the bar watered them to see if they would grow...yep, I know this is all the worst case scenario, but that's what the law was made to prevent, just our safety. I've thrown out things I didn't need before, but I wouldn't put someone through having to jump into one of those things, it was put by the dumpster, and sure enough, was taken by someone and put to good use. Because I don't think it's a law...because I've seen so many kids still riding without helmets, if they made that a law, someone would make a comment like "an officer guarding every bike rack" I wonder if we have any ER people who might want to make a comment on how many dumpster diving injuries have come in during their time at work, and without solid proof, besides the treatment, the bill, the doc saying "what were you thinking" there's the tetanus shot in the arm to send you out the door. Any by no means am I a clean freak, it's just about safety and the city's obligation to make the city safe...News at 6, man loses arm to infection from dumpster diving, sues city for $5,000,000 for negligence. What it really comes down to safety for them, safety for us.

italianprincess 12 years, 11 months ago

LAME LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ban dumpster diving is coming people.........LOL

Having a yard sale today and some things that don't sale will go near the trash in boxes for whomever whats them. I really don't care if others take what I don't need anymore.

To me they just needed it more then I did.

LAME LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!

space_rabbit_kerosene 12 years, 11 months ago

Tass: I really think your opinions are based on real concerns however you just can't legislate safety. The term "dumpster dive" is a misnomer anyway. Most people who are engaging in the activity know full well the risks involved, anything from broken glass to dirty diapers to used hypodermic needles. We don't just thrust our hands into the trash hoping to pull out goodies. There is technique involved. And the people who do not take care and injure themselves are likely either mentally ill and prone to injury or foolish reckless types who are going to hurt themselves regardless of what they do. You are totally spot about tetanus and taking precautions is a good idea. You might be surprised by the number of dumpster divers who have taken this into consideration and had the proper vaccinations.

Fangorn 12 years, 11 months ago

space_rabbit_kerosene: Actually, we legislate safety all the time: the FDA, OSHA, speed limits. Mind you, while some laws are necessary I don't agree with all the nanny-state coddling, but my misgivings never stop zealous representatives from attempting to protect us from every threat, no matter how remote, or even from ourselves. btw, I've been meaning to ask, what is the origin of your name? Were controlled substances involved? ;-) Seriously though, it's a great name.

Regarding the question: no, it should not be illegal. Although it might be helpful, as someone suggested, if usable items where left near the dumpster rather than in it. However, I can see how that could also cause problems. I'd still rather see the stuff reused by someone who wants it than sent to our limited landfill space.

lunacydetector 12 years, 11 months ago

some dumpster divers in california do it because they are anti-corporate america. they justify diving because they are not contributing to a capitalist pig society. this also goes for some vegans who will consume animal products since they aren't paying for a slaughtered animal.

by all means, the City may encourage dumpster diving. laws might be changed to protect the divers. diving promotes an anti-capitalistic philosophy. our mayor is/was? an anarchist. the last convention lawrence held was for anarchists (remember they were sleeping in south park for weeks?).

Fangorn 12 years, 11 months ago

ALERT: This post follows an off-topic conversational thread.

merrill: No one else took the bait, so I'll remark on your post.

First item: It's nice to see someone who opposes the war in Iraq finally admitting that we are rebuilding water, electricity and health networks rather than killing babies and starving Iraqi women and children. (I don't believe you've ever made such allegations, but I was personally accused of bombing and murdering by a crazed person at the library.) It's always been so hard for the anti-war element in this country to recognize that we might be doing some good in Iraq. I'm please to see you'd post an article that admits we are.

Second item: If even the writer of the headline struggled to remember the details from the time he took his notes to the time he wrote the headline (presumably a matter of days), then it should be understandable how Mr. Bolton might not recall a particular interview that took place a few years ago. You'll note the headline declares a "CIA Interview" but the article itself says "Bolton was interviewed by the State Department". Yes, it was a joint investigation, but State did the interview not the CIA. [As an aside, I look forward to having a US representative at the UN that actually represents US interests. Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Moynihan were the last two that accomplished this.]

Third item: I've heard many hysterical people claim that some believe "this threat renders our Constitution obsolete", but I've never actually heard who these people are. The judge's bloviations notwithstanding, the detainees at Club Gitmo are NOT American citizens and therefore are not entitled to the full protection of our Constitution. Furthermore, they are enemy combatants, not POWs, so they are not even entitled to the benefits of the Geneva Conventions. We grant them more of those benefits anyway, but they are not entitled to them. The Conventions themselves very clearly define who is protected, and those at Gitmo don't qualify. But then anyone who's actually read the Geneva Conventions already knows this.

Bill Martin 12 years, 11 months ago

space_rabbit, your quote "And the people who do not take care and injure themselves are likely either mentally ill and prone to injury or foolish reckless types who are going to hurt themselves regardless of what they do." Is exactly who the law is intended to protect. They deserve the protection that they themselves cannot do or won't do, especially "the foolish reckless types...." If they are going to do it, and they are the ones I spoke of earlier who would not have the insurance that would drain the tax dollars on our system, why shouldn't they have a deterrant in place to keep them out of where they shouldn't be? Again, I say the city has to protect itself against lawsuits and the citizens themselves from doing potentially harmful activity. I believe the sanitation workers have to have hazmat training before starting their jobs, but yet it's okay for anyone and their dog to jump into these places? Again, it's one of these types you mention that brings the $5,000,000 lawsuit for negligence. If there was nothing on the books, they would win this suit. And if it's a child, then imagine the uproar...What? The city had no law against this dangerous activity? What the heck were they thinking! And I do know you don't literally "dive" into the dumpster, although I have seen a short lady come close while leaning over trying to get a can.

rhd99 12 years, 11 months ago

Dumpster diving should be made illegal. However, it's like the cops said, if you don't want sensitive info. to go into the wrong hands, shred it. If you don't have a shredder, then go to a copy store, & ask if you can use their shredders, though you might be charged a minimal fee. That minimal fee is nothing compared to having been labeled ID Theft victim.

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 11 months ago

Have you all ever seen Batman Returns!?! "A little patience and a lot of Scotch tape . . . " Just kidding, kind of. I have never felt comfortable tossing something with an account number on it. I've got quite the file cabinet full now, though, and am cosidering getting a shredder. Can't say I have ever gotten in to a dumpster for something - couldn't get over the EEEEEEW factor - but as a struggling single parent there were times a plenty that I had gotten a gem that was better than what I already had that someone put out for the trash men: papsan chair, glider seat, patio chairs, coffetables, dressers, an awesome stair master, rocker recliner, patio bench . . . When I prospere I replaced them with new, but I still have and use some of the items. My sister in law got a big screen TV she says is awesome - the guy just got a mondo plamsa screen and just threw the other TV way. People need to be smart about their "recycling" efforts and stay out of the bins. People will often leave the "recylcable" items away from the garbage items thinking that someone will come along and grab it. I've gone up to ask if items were intended for trash and if so did they mind if I took it. The response is always they though it was in good enough shape that some one would want it so that's exactly why it was out there. I didn't know there was a law against dumpster diving. I'm not going to rifle through trash, but if I see something left out for pick up and I think I can use it, I'm nabbing it.

Fangorn 12 years, 11 months ago

Azure: Get a shredder. They are a great investment. Even the higher end models aren't hugely expensive, and who can put a price tag on peace of mind? Get either a confetti cutter (cuts strips into smaller lengths) or a "diamond" cutter (cuts paper into diamond-shaped chunks). Shred anything that's got your name or an account number on it. Especially any "you've been pre-approved" credit offers. My unit has a shredder that practically turns the paper into a powder. I'd like to be able to afford one of those. Office Depot has several models. Find one on sale and buy yourself a little "insurance".

Everyone: One line in Azure's post made me think of another security tip. If you buy a new TV, DVD player, computer, etc., do not set the empty box out with your trash. Doing so merely advertizes to every thief in or driving through your neighborhood that your house is worth the effort. Break the box down and cut it into smaller pieces. Better yet, recycle it.

my2cents 12 years, 11 months ago

Here is Case Law the Police Use:

Abandoned Property

Trash Searches

California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988). Police regularly searched garbage left at a curbside for evidence of drug trafficking. Searches did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in rubbish left for pick up; society is not prepared to recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy in such garbage. It is common knowledge that garbage left at or near the street is readily accessible to "children, animals, scavengers, and snoops," and trash collectors.

This Case law was extracted from

So if the Supreme Court says it ok..... why can't we?

my2cents 12 years, 11 months ago

E_M, I guess we'll see when a case goes to trial here dealing with evidence of a crime found in the TRASH without a warrant.

So if we have a law that contridicts the US Supreme Court, isn't that UnConstitutional?

I guess here in Lawrence the Supreme Court doesn't have any juristidiction....first smoking, now trash...what next.

pelliott 12 years, 11 months ago

As a part of " All Trash Eve" one of my favorite holidays, we should start a custom, put a free box besides every dumpster or trash place. Keep fun trash seperated from yucky trash. Use post it notes on rather the vacuum cleaner or fan if it works. Celebrate ATE. I make a point of picking up any litter and tidying any area I allegedly dive. In kodiak dumpster divers are called Bears. Heres to the Lawrence Bears!

warhawk_writer11 12 years, 11 months ago

I have always had a good time dumpster diving. I am currently am sporting a 42" screen tv in my living room to support the glorious holiday. So i say "nay" to the suggestion.

space_rabbit_kerosene 12 years, 11 months ago

Points taken tass and fangorn. I guess if dumpster diving is illegal ALL dumpster divers will be criminals... as opposed to the otherwise low rate of 75% or so. I'm being bad perhaps. My wife was the victim of identity theft. Some how a woman in Brooklyn NY managed to acquire her information and open a debit card account. She then proceeded to buy expensive cosmetics. In the end everything was smoothed over. I do often lie awake at night trying to picture weather this helped the mysterious woman attain the level of beauty she was after. Something to ponder after pointlessly ingesting excessive amounts of caffeine. In answer to your question regarding the nick name... I don't think any controlled substances were involved however I must admit that is most likely due to the exploitation of some legal technicality. I will say it does not refer to using kerosene as an inhalant. I was once picked up while hitch hiking by a car load of teenagers who were huffing gas while driving. Possibly the most frightening experiences of my life, one I consider myself lucky to have survived.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 11 months ago

Fangorn: On item one... corrupt Iraqis and american contractors are two culprits suspected of getting the $9,000,000,000 set aside for those humanitarian projects.

Some said that money would also have made the situation safer for our soldiers as well.

There is simply no explanation available. But the rhetoric still sounds good.

angeleyes 10 years, 2 months ago

I think dumpster diving is great. we take loads out of the dumpsters around ku area , there are so many wasteful people out here. we have found lots of gold jewelry and diamonds. video games , computors. lap tops. people are too wasteful here in lawrence, ks. one lady called my son and i white trash. get out of my garbage! Heck if it was just her garbage she is one very nasty filthy person. all them dildos we find in there she a freak. ugh. go figure. now who is the white trash tell me. Some of those who throw trash away are the ones the nastiest. Go figure.

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