Skip diving, junk hunting and freeganism

UK Home Improvement

Skip Diving, Junk Hunting and Freeganism

Let’s talk about Freeganism, it’s an interesting movement that is becoming more and more popular. Freeganism is based on an ideology where people take the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, and apply it to their whole lifestyle.

What is Freeganism?

Freeganism is a movement motivated by anti-capitalism. Typically, those practising the Freegan lifestyle will try to salvage food and other useable items from skips and bins. They do this to reduce their consumption of resources. Getting hold of these items for free is part of a Freegan’s lifestyle to survive, as much as possible, without paying for anything. The ultimate goal of Freeganism is to live in a way that avoids putting any money into a capitalist economy.

The Differences Between Freeganism, Junk Hunting and Skip Diving?

Skip diving is also referred to as dumpster diving, a more common name for the practice in the USA. Whatever you choose to call it, dumpster diving, junk hunting or skip diving is something people sometimes choose to do as a hobby, or as a means to save money by reusing items that have been thrown away. Freeganism involves using these practices as part of a movement motivated by ideology. The difference is, Freeganism is a lifestyle, not just a hobby.

The Pros and Cons of Freeganism

Pros of Freeganism

Reducing Waste

We are becoming more and more concerned with the amount of waste we produce. Freeganism reduces the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, particularly food items. Sometimes the skip owner might be glad to get rid of an item taking up space in their skip, or they might just be happy to see someone putting an item they no longer wanted to good use.

Saving Money

The Freegan ideology seeks to avoid being part of a consumerist society. This means avoiding spending money by making use of food and goods that have been thrown away by others.

Hidden Treasure

Sometimes whilst looking for food or useable items, Freegans find valuable or desirable ‘hidden treasures’. This is often a reason why people take up junk hunting or skip diving just as a hobby. People get satisfaction, pleasure and sometimes financial reward from some of the strange and wonderful things they find.

Cons of Freeganism

Health and Safety

There are lots of potential health and safety risks to eating food that has been thrown away. Food can become contaminated by other waste in the skip or bin, and it may have been discarded because it is unsafe or unsuitable for eating. It can also be very dangerous to retrieve items from a skip, as you can never really know what items might be lurking under the rubbish. There is a real danger of becoming trapped or injured in a skip.

No Guarantees

You can’t always guarantee that you’ll find food when you need it. A Freegan lifestyle means you might sometimes have to go without food or drink for long periods of time.

Legal Issues

Retrieving and reusing items that have been thrown away is technically legal in the UK, but it can be controversial. Asking for permission is always advised, to avoid potentially getting in trouble.

Legalities of Skip Diving and Junk Hunting?

Here’s where things get a bit confusing. Technically speaking, it is legal in the UK, providing the item has been thrown away permanently and is not on private land. It can be a bit of a grey area legally, so it’s best to seek permission before skip diving or junk hunting as part of a Freegan lifestyle.

Laws Across The Rest of The World

The laws vary in different places across the world, but the main sticking points are around trespass and theft.

In Germany for example, items in a skip are still considered to be the property of the skip owner, so taking these items is technically theft. It’s worth noting that the value of the ‘stolen’ item would be taken into account before the police would consider getting involved. In other countries such as the USA, items that have been thrown out are legally in the ‘public domain’, but trespass is still an issue if the items are on private property.

Asking Permission and Avoiding Trespass

It’s always worth asking the skip owner if you can take something they have thrown away. You never know, they might be quite happy to see it go to a new home. Equally, they might warn you not to enter a skip if they know there is something inside it that could cause you injury or harm. If you choose to enter a skip then you do so at your own risk.


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