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Dumpster Diving in California

Are you thinking of starting your dumpster diving quest in California?

Are you aware of the laws regarding dumpster diving in California?

If you have been considering starting a quest and you are curious to know the answers to those questions, then you are in the right place. 

In this guide, you will find answers to those questions and much more information you need in terms of dumpster diving.

Dumpster Diving in California

Dumpster diving is the collection of disposed of goods such as gadgets, electronics, groceries, etc. that you can either reuse or sell for profit. 

California is the third-largest state in the US and has 279 shopping malls with 29000 plus stores in those malls. 

Because of the abundance of shopping malls, retail stores, and construction sites in the state, has helped it become one of the most popular states for dumpster diving. 

There are wealthy towns in the state where you can find valuable goods in the trash cans located in these neighborhoods. 

Basically, California is a place to look forward to as a dumpster diver. 

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in California?

Dumpster diving in utah

Dumpster diving is ruled legal in the United States, but each state has the right to make its own law regards dumpster diving.

In California, dumpster diving is illegal without the necessary permit from the appropriate authorities. 

The state gave out a law ruling out scavenging in the state entirely, which no one should violate under no circumstance. 

Under California law, scavenging is considered the crime of theft and most municipalities will prosecute the violator of the law severely.

Any dumpster diver caught will be prosecuted according to the law. 

Is Dumpster Diving Legal in San Diego?

In San Diego, dumpster diving is not illegal but should be done with respect to all other laws of the city. The city has placed a strict law on scavenging from trash cans except by the appropriate personnel.  

There are laws against littering, trespass, damaging, disorderly conduct, etc. 

They can also charge you with theft if caught scavenging, as it is written on the city’s website. 

Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Los Angeles?

Under the Los Angeles ordinance, it is stated that only the owner of the trash can has the right to remove any material from it. 

There is also laws against scavenging in a private property. 

Is Dumpster Diving Legal in San Jose?

Unlike San Diego and Los Angeles, scavenging is legal in San Jose. Dumpster diving is seen as a way of reducing waste and a source of income.
Like it is in every state and city, trespass law is in place and attracts charges if violated. 

Offenses Subject to Dumpster Diving in California

  • Scavenging
  • Trespass
  • Theft
  • Littering
  • Identity Theft
  • Disorderly Conduct

The Dos and Don’ts When Dumpster Diving

Dumpster Diving Dos

  • Always respect signs or posts for NO TRESPASSING
  • Do respect the owner’s request to vacate the premises
  • Do respect police authority
  • Do review and know the municipal laws where you are dumpster diving

Dumpster Diving Don’ts

  • Don’t block drives, lanes, roads, etc. around the dumpster site
  • Don’t remove personal information found inside the dumpster
  • Don’t enter fenced dumpsters
  • Don’t enter restricted dumpster areas
  • Don’t dumpster dive from recycling containers

Is dumpster diving in Colorado at Night illegal?

Whether you go dumpster diving during the day or at night, the law still remains the same. It is illegal to go dumpster diving in without a permit in California, irrespective of the time.

In fact, most dumpster divers prefer to go dumpster diving at night because of privacy, but it can be dangerous at times and the competition is high compared to going during the day. 

Also, going to a residential area to go dumpster diving at night may lead to the residents calling the cops on you. 

Note that you keep an eye out for a NO TRESPASSING sign to avoid getting charged and fined heavily. 


Things You Can Find In Dumpsters?

There are several items that you can find in a dumpster. You can reuse or sell some to be recycled and bring in income for the diver.

They include:

  • Toys
  • Books
  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Electronics
  • Appliances
  • Sealed food
  • Beauty products, etc

Places to go Dumpster Diving in California

California offers a lot of places you can go to dumpster dive, which is why the state is known to be one of the places dumpsters consider when starting. 

Some the places are:

  • Rich Neighborhoods
  • Garage sales
  • Retail stores
  • Electronic shops
  • Construction sites
  • Cosmetic stores, etc.

Related: Dumpster Diving in Utah

How much can you make as a dumpster diver in California?

In California, the amount of profit you make from dumpster diving is dependent on factors like:

  • What you are collecting like recyclables, gadgets, electronics, groceries, furniture, etc. These items are worth more than the others when sold. 
  • The amount of time you put into it, etc.

You can make between $2000 to $3000 per month as a dumpster in California, but you have to be a full-time dumpster diver to be able to make as much as that. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What stores are best for dumpster diving?

Big box stores are the best you can go for. You can find free items like clothes, gadgets, electronics, etc. in their dumpster.

  • What’s the best time to go dumpster diving?

The best time to go dumpster diving is early in the morning. Most stores dispose of their refuse early in the morning. 

  • How much money can you make dumpster diving?

This depends on the ‌time you put into it and what you collect. With full-time diving, you can make up to $3000 monthly. 

  • What should I look for when dumpster diving?

You can collect recyclables, groceries, food to make compost, electronics, etc. 

  • Can you get sick from dumpster diving?

There is also a possibility of becoming ill from bacteria, especially in the summer; the dumpsters themselves breed bacteria, and they spray some with pesticides. 

Final Thoughts

Because dumpster diving can be rewarding, it can also land you in trouble if not done according to the law.

Dumpster diving in California is not lawful unless you are authorized personnel. Always follow the safety tips to avoid landing in trouble. 

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