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Skip Diving, Junk Hunting and Freeganism – the Need to Know.

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is a phrase that has long resonated with dumpster divers and junk hunters alike. Over the past few years, this phrase has gained increasing popularity with another group and now sits at the heart of a new movement: freeganism.

But what exactly is freeganism? How does it differ, if at all, from dumpster diving? And what exactly are the legal implications? Today, we’re going to answer all these questions. Woodford Recycling are here to answer everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the alternative lifestyle of freeganism.


What is freeganism?

Freeganism is the ideology and practice of minimising waste and reducing consumption of resources — particularly relating to food — by acquiring these resources for free. This is usually achieved by obtaining food from bins or other sources where the food has been disposed of. The idea is that ‘freegans’ are able to obtain the necessities to survive without giving money to the economy in the process.

What is the difference between freeganism and dumpster diving?

Freeganism typically involves the practice of dumpster diving — rooting through bins to salvage usable goods — but the two are not mutually exclusive. What sets freeganism apart is that it is a movement motivated by anti-capitalist ideals. Dumpster diving, on the other hand, can be done as a ‘junk hunting’ hobby and a means to save money without any ideological connotations.

What are the pros and cons of freeganism?


  • Freegans reduce waste by salvaging food and other items that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
  • Freegans save money by feeding themselves without making any purchases. Many who adopt this lifestyle also believe they are doing a service by not partaking in consumerism.
  • Freegans occasionally find ‘hidden treasures’ when searching through discarded items.


  • There’s no guarantee that freegans will find edible food, meaning they risk going long periods without eating.
  • There are various health and safety risks involved with taking and eating food from bins. The food may have been contaminated from other waste, or it may actually have gone off without the freegan realising.
  • Although dumpster diving is technically legal in the UK, you could still find yourself getting in trouble in certain circumstances.

What are the laws surrounding dumpster diving?

The legalities around dumpster diving varies from country to country.

Germany: Dumpster diving is illegal. The property inside of a bin is still technically the legal property of the owner and therefore taking anything from it without permission is stealing.

USA: Dumpster diving is legal. In contrast to German laws, the laws of the United States claim that once an item has been thrown out it becomes a part of the public domain, rendering it legal to be taken by anyone.

UK: Dumpster diving is technically legal in the UK, but there are some things to consider. If the bin is on private property, you could be arrested for trespassing. If the owner only placed items in their bin temporarily, for whatever reason, you may not be entitled to take them, so it may be wise to seek their consent before helping yourself to their rubbish.

Here at Woodford Recycling, we sift through your rubbish to salvage materials that can be recycled at our recycling facility. Our waste management services ensure that as many items are recycled as possible, making the planet cleaner for all. If you’d like to learn more about our recycling services we offer to customers in Cambridge, Peterborough and Huntingdon, contact us online or give our team a call today.


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