The Reno Gazette-Journal's front page article, Reno neighbors ask for law against trash-can diving, quotes individuals supporting the ban. The reasons put forth for the enactement of an anti-"trash-can diving" law, by those quoted, stem from unpleasant encounters these neighbors have had with trash scavengers--trash scavengers who clearly aren't schooled in the ethics of Dumpster Diving. For that reason, today's post will share some of the diving cultures ethos, which can be easily found around the web.
From All Things Frugal:
Dumpster Etiquette & Rules
Don't go behind a closed fence to reach a dumpster. Don't leave a mess. Leave the dumpster better than you found it so those who enjoy this hobby can continue. Don't take paperwork with people's confidential records. Take only what you can use, and leave the rest for someone else.
Clean up after yourself. If you’ve thrown garbage all around, pick it up and put it back into the dumpster. While you’re at it, throw away other nearby trash that’s on the ground. Leave the area as clean or cleaner than you found it—don’t give dumpster diving a bad name.
HOW TO BE A GOOD DUMPSTER DIVER
--Go after hours so customers don't see you when they come to shop (and to give them some time to dump the "Sell by's" for that day.)
--Keep the area clean (Don't leave trash outside the dumpster and don't pile up bags of food--I recommend working in a team with one person in the dumpster and one person moving them to the car more or less as you find them just in case a store worker comes out. Garbage bags look like garbage bags and if you're piling them on the ground, it would be easy for them to assume you're making a mess that they will have to clean up.)
--Be polite, not antagonistic to store workers (if you encounter them). A number of times I have even gone and asked permission at the loading dock, but normally we don't even see anyone around. If you have a distribution system (friends, workplace, church, Food Not Bombs, etc.) take more than you can eat and share it freely with others. The more you take and can actually use, the more environmental side benefits you reap by rescuing it from the dumpster and the more resources you potentially free up for other good causes. For example, when we find a big haul of bread, Ryan sets up a table at work where people can take bread and drop a donation into a bucket which goes to Bread for the World (he calls it "Bread for bread for Bread for the World").
--When you need to supplement your diving for nutritional or other specific needs, try to buy local. In the summer we joined a CSA as a supplement, and now we try to find any extras we might need at the local food Co-op.
These are just a few of the sites that promote a dumpster diving ethic. Most of it is common sense.
From the Reno Gazette-Journal article, it is clear the individuals who were leaving trash around, getting in arguments with people when confronted, etc. need a little education on the ethics of their practice.
But, a law is not what is needed.
If people are out throwing trash around and making a mess, I believe any competent police officer could rightly apply litter laws to such behavior; when people are getting in arguments with the residents of a neigborhood about bin-diving, I'm sure one could apply laws regarding disturbing the peace or something similar.
Below, is a good report. I found the video on the LarynAndJanel.com dumpster diving page. Enjoy.