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Everything You Need to Know About Skip Diving, Junk Hunting and Freeganism

If you’re having a major clear out of your home, office or business, chances are you’re going to be wanting to get rid of a lot of things. Probably far too much to fit into the back of the average car to take down to the local recycling centre. In which case, your best bet will usually be to hire a skip – then all you have to do is remove what you don’t want from your property, empty it into the skip and let someone else worry about dealing with it for you.

But the minute your skip is dropped outside your property, you can bet that a fair few people will have noticed, and some will already be planning to check out what you’re throwing away. Because as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that is never more true than when it comes to skips. 



Skip Diving

It really is amazing what can find its way into a skip. A quick search across the internet reveals such diverse delights as an Ivor Novello award, a caravan and a pair of thankfully empty coffins turning up in different skips at different times. Is it any wonder that some people feel motivated to root through filled skips in the hope that they might find something of interest, use or value? 

This pastime has become known as ‘skip diving’ (‘dumpster diving’ in the US) or ‘junk hunting’. And while caravans, coffins and major music awards may be relatively rare finds, it’s not unusual for those doing it to unearth items of genuine value or usefulness, from furniture and fireplaces to scrap metal and doors. People have been known to refurbish whole houses with the contents of skips. 

In its extreme form, particularly in parts of the world where there is widespread poverty, junk hunting can literally be a matter of life and death, as people make their living by scavenging immense rubbish dumps for anything that can be sold on.



Freeganism differs from skip diving, not in the action but the motivation. This is because a ‘freegan’ (the word is a portmanteau of ‘free’ and ‘vegan’) is generally carrying out a political act, being more interested in reducing consumption and preventing something ending up in landfill than with finding something of financial value. So, while vegans avoid buying things containing animal products or involving animal exploitation, freegans literally avoid buying anything, even food. It’s essentially recycling taken to the extreme.


Skip Diving, Freeganism and the Law

Surely, the very fact that something has been left in a skip suggests that it has been discarded and therefore taking it is not depriving anybody as a consequence. You would think; however, in the UK, the law surrounding the matter is not quite as clear as you might expect.

For instance, did the person raiding the skip trespass on someone’s property? Was the object deliberately placed there? Given such vagueness, the best thing to do is to ask first.

Other countries take different and theoretically more definitive approaches. In the USA, skip diving is entirely legal, as they take the view that once something has been discarded it becomes part of the public domain – basically, it’s anyone’s to do what they want with. Germany, on the other hand, views the contents of a bin as being the property of the owner, and consequently the removal of anything from it as theft – in practice, however, there is only one known record of an actual prosecution and even that case was suspended.


At CSH Environmental, however it happens, we’re always happy when anything unwanted finds a new lease of life. Whether that’s because someone else has a use for it or because it can go for recycling (and what are skip diving and freeganism if not unofficial forms of recycling?), just the fact that it isn’t ending up in landfill is good enough for us.

More than 99% of what ends up in a CSH skip is diverted away from landfill and towards recycling, which means we are constantly turning your trash into some kind of treasure. If you need any of our waste management services such as skip hire to dispose of your unwanted treasures, simply contact us today.

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