KTVN Channel 2 continued its coverage of the dumpster diving culture with today's "BIG STORY" being Locals Dumpster Dive to Eat and Feed the Hungry. If you missed the television broadcast, the transcripts of the story are at the above link.


Hey all...

The result of last weeks City Council Agenda item L.6 regarding the Ordinance to Restrict Scavenging of Garbage was:

Reno Councilman Dave Aiazzi says he wants to get a report from the city attorney before considering any proposed ordinance dealing with dumpster divers.

On December 19th the report from the city attorney was released, Reno City Attorney Memorandum regarding Laws Regarding Household Waste Ownership stating the following:

Complaints regarding individuals rummaging through household garbage and recycling containers have been brought to the attention of the Reno City Council and the Reno City Attorney.  The following is an open opinion providing a summary of the Nevada Revised Statues (NRS), Reno Municipal Code (RMC) sections and Washoe County District Health Department (WCDHD) regulations relevant to the subject.

NRS 268.081 gives the City of Reno the authority to displace and limit competition regarding the collection and disposal of garbage and other waste within the city through the grant of a franchise.  RMC §5.90.020 (franchise rights).  The franchise agreement to collect all garbage is held by Waste Management of Nevada.  Garbage is broadly defined in the Reno Municipal Code to include both household waste and recyclables.  RMC §5.90.010; see RMC §5.90.030 (ownership of the solid waste stream is granted to the franchise holder).  

Ownership of the household waste stream transfers from the residential customer to Waste Management of Nevada at the time waste is placed by the residential customer in containers and left curbside for collection by the franchise holder.  RMC §5.90.030. Transfer of ownership of recyclables to the franchise holder also takes place pursuant to NRS 444.585 at the time the recyclables are placed in the franchise holder’s containers at the curbside.[i]

Individuals that rummage through and remove items from household waste placed at the curb for pick-up are potentially violating:
WCDHD Regulation 050.135, and may be reported to the District Health Department.[ii]
NRS 444.585 (if they are removing recyclables), and may be reported to Waste Management of Nevada and the Reno Police Department.[iii]
RMC §8.10.040 (removing any property of another), and may be reported to Waste Management and the Reno Police Department.[iv]
RMC §10.8.020 and WCDHD Regulation 050.145 (if they are dumping garbage or waste), and may be reported to the District Health Department and the Reno Police Department.[v]

While customers may change their minds and retrieve items prior to pick-up by Waste Management, individuals rummaging (without consent) through household garbage and recyclables prior to placement on the curbside for pick-up by Waste Management are potentially violating the residential customer’s property rights:

RMC §8.10.040 (removing any property of another), and may be reported to the Reno Police Department. See endnote No.4.
RMC §8.10.010 (Trespass- unlawful act or prior notice), and may be reported to the Reno Police Department.[vi]
RMC §10.8.020 and WCDHD Regulation 050.145 (if they are dumping garbage or waste), and may be reported to the District Health Department and the Reno Police Department.  See endnote No.5.

Each of the above listed potential violations will depend upon the particular facts of each circumstance.  As with all law enforcement and prosecution, proper discretion may be exercised relevant to each individual case.

[i]It should be noted that even though legal title to garbage and recyclables passes upon placement at the curb, the ultimate public health responsibility for the waste remains with the residential owner until it is picked-up by the franchise holder. See WCDHD Regulation 050.110.

[ii] “No person shall remove waste placed for collection, other than the person generating the waste, or the authorized collector/processor.”  WCDHD Regulation 050.135.  “Whenever the Health Authority determines that any of these regulations have been violated, he may issue a notice of violation.  The Health Authority may also issue a citation into court of appropriate jurisdiction, and may be served by any peace officer of the court or other authorized person.  WCDHD Regulation 020.115.  “Violation of any provision of these regulations constitutes a misdemeanor.”  WCDHD Regulation 020.145. 

[iii]NRS 444.585.  Ownership of recyclable materials; unauthorized collection of recyclable materials prohibited; penalty; civil remedy.

      1.  From the time recyclable materials are placed in a container provided by a private recycling business or the person designated by the county or other municipality to collect recyclable materials:

      (a) At curbside for collection; or

      (b) At any other appropriate site designated for collection,

the recyclable materials are the property of the private recycling business or person designated by the county or other municipality to collect them, as appropriate.

      2.  Any person engaged in the unauthorized collection of recyclable materials is guilty of a misdemeanor. Each such unauthorized collection constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

      3.  As an alternative to the criminal penalty set forth in subsection 2, the county or other municipality, the private recycling business and the person designated to collect the recyclable materials may independently enforce the provisions of this section in a civil action. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 445C.010 to 445C.120, inclusive, a person who engages in the unauthorized collection of recyclable materials is liable to the private recycling business or the person designated to make such collections, as appropriate, for three times the damages caused by the unauthorized collection.  

[iv] RMC §8.10.040. Petit larceny.

It is unlawful for any person to take or carry away the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of his property therein, in any value less than $250.00, and for his conviction therefor, he shall be fined in an amount not more than $1,000.00 and/or be incarcerated not more than six months. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.

[v] RMC §10.08.020. Unlawful dumping of garbage, rubbish and waste matter.

It shall be unlawful for any person to dump, spill, throw, place or bury in any parcel of land, lot, street, highway, gutter, or in any alley or in any water or stream or in any canal or ditch within the limits of the city any garbage, rubbish, or waste matter, or any deleterious or offensive substances.

RMC§10.08.090. Violations.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter:

(1) Upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished as provided in section 1.04.010; or

(2) Shall be subject to provisions of Chapter 1.05 of the Code.

WCDHD Regulation 050.145: “It is unlawful, in the Health District, for any person, public or private, to place, deposit or dump, or cause to be placed, deposited, or dumped, any solid waste in, or upon, any public or private highway, street, alley, or road, or any lot or parcel of land, whether public or private, other than approved land deposal sites, exclusive of NRS 444.620.”

[vi] RMC §8.10.010.  Trespassing.

(a)   Every person who goes upon the land or into any building of another with intent to vex or annoy the owner or occupant thereof, or to commit any unlawful act, or willfully goes or remains upon any land or in any building after having been warned by the owner or occupant thereof not to trespass, is guilty of a misdemeanor. If the premises were at the time open to the public, the warning must have been given within the previous six months. The meaning of this subsection is not limited by subsections (b), (c), (d) and (e) of this section.

(b)   Every owner or other occupant of any land shall be deemed to have given a sufficient warning against trespassing, within the meaning of this section, who posts in a conspicuous manner on each side thereof, upon or near the boundary at intervals of not more than 700 feet, signs, legibly printed or painted in the English language, warning persons not to trespass, or who fences the area.

(c)   It is prima facie evidence of trespass for any person to be found on private or public property which is posted or fenced as provided in subsection (b) without lawful business with the owner or occupant of the property.

(d)   An entryman on land under the laws of the United States is an owner within the meaning of this section.

(e)   As used in this section, "fence" means a barrier sufficient to indicate an intent to restrict the area to human ingress, including, but not limited to, a wall, hedge or chain link or wire mesh fence.

Save Reno Dumpster Diving is going to put their daily blog feed on hiatus--reporting only odd dumpster related stories and any other items associated with the proposed trash scavenging ban in Reno that seems to have been a convoluted effort in the absurd; if I read the above pasted Memo correctly, there have always been legal instruments available to deal with nuisance trash scavengers, dumpster divers, etc.

Therefore, the blog will be running on random scatter. But, rest assured, Save Reno Dumpster Diving won't let its guard down--our eyes and ears are on full alert for all trashy news in the Reno vicinity and beyond.

During this pause in our daily posts, Save Reno Dumpster Diving is moving ahead full force and putting all its effort into the documentary 
Dumpster Wars, which we plan to premiere in Reno about February 1, 2009. Stay tuned.


In honor of today, the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, we're going to keep the post short. What we've got for you is a sad tale from S. California about perfectly good (and mostly new) items of value filling dumpster after dumpster as homes are foreclosed and their former residents--too despondent to hire moving trucks--abandon their material goods and the banks hire a company to throw the items in the trash. Watch it here.


Announced today, the letter to the editor of the Reno-Gazette Journal (RGJ) Dumpster divers not after your ID by R. Hand won a Silver Pen Award for the best letter published in the last week. The letter originally appeared in the Dec. 8th issue of the RGJ in response to a Nov. 24th letter--Dumpster diving should be illegal. Congratulations R. Hand and thank you for contributing to the Save Reno Dumpster Diving cause. We salute you. Keep diving.


Save Reno Dumpster Diving presents part of an ethnotgraphy about "trash" to expose the complexity of castaway goods and some of the issues at hand as the City of Reno's proposed ban on trash scavenging remains to be resolved.

The following thoughts on "trash" comes from the ethnography--discarded objects: objectification of trash: a look at the transcendence of objecthood and thingness by Sekai Moswaswe:

How do we come to be so detached and disgusted by something so identifiably “ours”—that is, our personal discarded goods? Trash is something that we at some point had an investment in, and our relationship demonstrates the fleeting investments in objects in an age of abundance.

Trash serves more than just specific social functions, trash is also political. An individuals relationship with trash is imbued with energy of polemics. Discarding objects is such a political act in the sense that we are making bold statements that attest to our answer to the ultimate political question of how we are to live in this world.

Trash further retains the ability to be revolutionary. For instance, freegans are revolutionaries who use their relationship with trash as a demonstration of their relatively extreme perspectives. Freeganism is an anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist anarchist lifestyle philosophy that is centered upon the refusal to consume anything directly. Adherents to this lifestyle choice sustain themselves with the discarded goods of others. Hitchhiking, dumpster diving and freecycling are dominant methods of survival.

In addition to its basic social functions, trash is economy. Trash has become a significant economic base for survival. In Argentina, Ciruja’s are garbage scavengers who are formalizing their once informal enterprise as a legitimate industry. They collect garbage that they recycle or sell to other industries directly for a profit. In Buenos Aires, there are about 120,000 full-time garbage scavengers. There are parallels to Argentina’s ciruja’s throughout the world. In Egypt, the Zabbaleen use donkey-drawn carts. In the Philippines, the Boyte Diario collects trash from residents.

Trash functions as community in the sense that it is the central gathering and residential ground for thousands of economically depressed people throughout the world. In economically depressed regions of the world, adults and children alike live where they are secondary to the trash whose space they appropriate for themselves.

Trash further serves as art. Magazines, websites, museums and individual artists have used trash as the muse and practical base for their artistry. Entire objects have been constructed just from discarded goods.

Trash is no more than an object with dispossessed value. It can be said that by virtue of ones possession, the fact that an item becomes trash is essentially the dispossession or expulsion of its value. Why do we refuse to use items to the ultimate point of futility?

There is perhaps a spirit of trash. Many cultures infuse some component of animism in their religious or cultural thought. The idea that objects are not just physical but possess a spiritual component has been enduring. Due to dumpster divers, garbage scavengers, and recycling an object can be created, discarded and recreated for the same or an entirely different use and perhaps still be imbued with the same sort of spirit it possessed originally.

Are we becoming an overly disposable culture? Is trash the only thing that has become increasingly disposable or are other areas of our life affected?

Are we equally noncommittal with our relationships, careers and education? This idea of trash—the ability to discard and recreate and take advantage of alternatives is related to the creation of trash. We change majors, careers, appearances and recreate our personalities with ease. What else do we trash?


The Reno City Council delays action on trash law (link to Reno Gazette-Journal article on topic published today). Save Reno Dumpster Diving will review recordings of the full discussions and keep you updated for any further motions on this issue, its inclusion on the Agenda of future meetings, and all other pertinent information regarding the matter of interest to Save Reno Dumpster Diving's Mission:

To galvanize public support and understanding of trash scavenging, dumpster diving, curb crawling and other forms of recycling. Its ultimate goal is to defeat any attempts to outlaw these activities in the Reno area.


In other news, yesterday in Louisiana, a Dumpster diving bear was captured. A human dumpster diver was in the dumpster when the bear decided to dive-in too:

The dumpster diver came face to face with a 250 pound black bear.

"The guy was digging in the dumpster. What happened was apparently he was in the dumpster and the bear probably smelled the food shaken around and the bear creeped up on top of the dumpster and startled the guy," said Winn Dixie employee Vanessa Savoy. "Somehow he managed to jump out and run into the store and told them up front you got a big black bear out by you alls dumpsters," said Store Director Shayne Hall. [video news report about the incident available here: Dumpster-Diving Bear]

Another bear was caught on tape, earlier this year, scaring some residents in California: Dumpster-Diving Bear Scares CA Residents.


We had some fun today, I made comments at the City Council meeting regarding their proposal to ban 'dumpster diving'.

The fun part was the protest activity outside.

News Channel 4 broadcast live from the scene at noon. You can see video of the noon broadcast online. A more in-depth report concerning the issue broadcast at 5PM and again on the Tad Dunbar Report at 6:30PM. The latter report provides a fair view of the debate and includes a balance of input from various voices with an interest in the issue. Both videos are available at KRNV's website here: Reno council considers banning 'dumpster diving'

MSNBC has a syndicated version of the KRNV write-up, no video included, available here: MSNBC Reno Dumpster Dive.

KTVN Channel 2 was also on the scene, the clips are not available online but a story published today including some points on the issue can be found here: City Council Discusses Legalities of Dumpster Diving.

There were shots of this blog on the KTVN broadcast, specifically the post regarding Dumpster Diving EthicsSave Reno Dumpster Diving supports KTVN's inclusion of this site being integrated into their webpage format, to see the mash-up, go to http://www.KTVN.com and then hit the  "Local News" tab and the "News Links" in the box selection and finally hit the 'Dumpster Diving in Reno Link' [I know a bit tedious, but the KTVN site has dynamic links within its format].


Hey all....

Tomorrow is Reno City Council's "Discussion and potential direction to staff regarding initiation of an Ordinance to Restrict Scavenging of Garbage" (This is item L.6 on page ten of tomorrow's Agenda).

This proposed action targets some of the most downtrodden and voiceless individuals of our city--the homeless, the unemployed, the laid-off.

Not to mention, it attacks the activities of Food Not Bombs, hobby curb crawlers, Freeganstrash bin divers, found object artists, dumpster divers, gleaners, recyclers, urban hunter gatherers and anyone who has ever retrieved perfectly good items from the trash, dumpster, curb or dump. 

Join a people's protest to Save Reno Dumpster Diving and all the cultural, artistic, and alternative lifestyles associated with it. Tomorrow between 12-noon and 1pm, we will be on the sidewalk in front of the Reno City Hall Building (Facing Virginia St., the official address is 1 E. First Street). Bring your signs and meet us there, we will be providing some "Picket Signs" until they run out.

You can also speak at the Council meeting, whether you are for this ban or not, you have the right to be heard. Fill out a blue "Request to Speak/Public Comment Form" available at City Hall. Give it to the County Clerk and you should be provided the opportunity to make comments (maximum time allotted per individual is three minutes) starting at 12-noon in the Council Chambers on the first floor of the City Hall building.

If anyone has questions or comments, e-mail me at: SaveRenoDumpsterDiving@gmail.com


Today's Antiques Roadshow was a "Roadshow Special Edition". Titled From Trash to Treasure, the whole hour featured items of value--some topping US$100,000.00--pulled from the trash. For anyone who missed it, you can watch all the appraisals here: Antique Roadshow: From Trash to Treasure.

There is a section of particular interest on this episode for the Save Reno Dumpster Diving crowd. A Reno Dumpster Diver pulled a US$800-900 1820 John Trumbull print from a Reno Dumpster and is featured in an appraisal on this special trash-filled hour, you can watch the clip here: Reno Dumpster Diver Featured on Antique Roadshow.

Here is the info on the episode:

"Antiques Roadshow
Trash to Treasure
Monday, December 15, 8:00pm CHANNEL 5 (KNPB/Channel 5)Valuable items recovered from the trash are featured. Included: an autographed script of "The Informer," an Oscar-winning 1935 John Ford film; a rare 1885 Zuni Indian pot; items from Louis Comfort Tiffany's Laurelton Hall mansion.
CC, Stereo TVG Educational Taping Rights: 1 year"

In line with the Dumpster Diving of antiques and other valuables, in Forbes Magazine about a year ago they ran a feature in their section "Piece of the Week" called Dumpster Diving Pays Divedends, in which:

"A rare Arts & Crafts chair made by Charles Rolhfs and rescued from the trash made auction history last week. Expected to fetch around $30,000, it sold for the record price of $198,000.

Pulled from the neighbor's trash,..." (click the link above for full story)

So, we can conclude from the evidence presented in today's post--One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure. What are you waiting for? Take the day off or get extreme--quit your job--and...

dive a dumpster or your neighbor's trash bin (once it is on the street, of course); there could be a $198,000 chair waiting for you to save it. Oh, and while you're at it, don't forget--Save Reno Dumpster Diving.


A curious story about the word Dumpster from On Dumpster Diving
by Lars Eighner (btw, I recommend checking out the above link for the full 'On Dumpster Diving' chapter excerpt from the 1993 book Travels with Lizbeth):

"Long before I began Dumpster diving I was impressed with Dumpsters, enough so that I wrote the Merriam-Webster research service to discover what I could about the word Dumpster. I learned from them that it is a proprietary word belonging to the Dempster Dumpster company. Since then I have dutifully capitalized the word, although it was lowercased in almost all the citations Merriam-Webster photocopied for me. Dempster's word is too apt. I have never heard these things called anything but Dumpsters. I do not know anyone who knows the generic name for these objects. From time to time I have heard a wino or hobo give some corrupted credit to the original and call them Dipsy Dumpsters."

This etymology of Dumpster inspired me to search more to find out about the man who invented the "Dumpster", whereupon I encountered this page: Fountain Citians Who Made a Difference: George R. Dempster

"By the end of his career he would hold over 75 patents, but his best known patent was the one that revolutionized solid waste disposal. In 1935 he [George R. Dempster] conceived the idea of the Dempster-Dumpster to facilitate construction work. Competitors saw it working so well that they asked that similar units be made for them. Shortly thereafter, he patented the idea and, before long, the five brothers were devoting their entire time to manufacturing Dumpsters at Dempster Brothers, Inc."

So--remember kids--that's no lower cased dumpster you're diving in; get nerd with it and give respect to its inventor. When someone asks where you bought that lovely meal you just served them, proudly confound them and proclaim, "It came from Mr. George Dempster-Dumpster."