Could the saying 'one man’s trash' potentially lead to another man’s felony?

Get our free mobile app

For those unfamiliar, 'dumpster diving' involves searching for valuable items in other people's discarded waste. In simple terms, it's salvaging usable items from large commercial, residential, industrial, and construction dumpsters.

"He Won't Get Far On Foot" Closing Night Film - Seattle International Film Festival
Getty Images for Seattle Interna

People engage in dumpster diving for various reasons, whether for the thrill of discovery or out of necessity. However, beyond the legal aspects, there are inherent hazards associated with this activity.

According to the National Library of Medicine, climbing into dumpsters, sifting through garbage, and consuming food without knowledge of its origin pose health risks. Public health officials and food safety experts express concerns about potential injuries from sharp objects in the garbage, as well as the risk of bacterial infections, particularly in warmer weather. Dumpsters themselves can harbor bacteria, and some are even treated with pesticides. Moreover, food found in dumpsters might come into contact with chemicals and fecal matter, leading to infections if they penetrate open skin.

Protestors Rally In Support Of Miami Restaurants Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Getty Images

Before delving into the legality of dumpster diving, it's crucial to acknowledge its potential health hazards.

This question was raised on the r/Maine subreddit: "Is dumpster diving in Maine legal?"

Photo by Jennifer Uppendahl on Unsplash
Photo by Jennifer Uppendahl on Unsplash

Responses from Mainers shed light on the issue, citing concerns from landowners about trespassing and grocery stores worried about liability and their public image.

However, despite these perspectives, there is no specific law in Maine prohibiting dumpster diving. In a 1988 Supreme Court ruling, 'California v. Greenwood,' it was determined that dumpster diving is technically legal in all 50 states unless it conflicts with city, county, or state ordinances. Importantly, there are no such ordinances in Maine.

Photo by Loren Biser on Unsplash
Photo by Loren Biser on Unsplash

In conclusion, while dumpster diving is not explicitly outlawed in Maine, individuals should be aware of the potential hazards before deciding to take the plunge.

LOOK: What major laws were passed the year you were born?

Data for this list was acquired from trusted online sources and news outlets. Read on to discover what major law was passed the year you were born and learn its name, the vote count (where relevant), and its impact and significance.

Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff

LOOK: 50 Beloved Retail Chains That No Longer Exist

Stacker takes a look at 50 major retail chains that no longer exist and the reasons for their demise.  

Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi

More From