Arrested for Dumpster Diving for Food? I’ve Got You Covered.

We throw away nearly half of all the food we produce in America while 1 in 7 Americans are fighting for their next meal. To me that is absurd, a country with such an abundance of food with an equal abundance of hunger.

I’m not down with this.

I’m not down with throwing away all this perfectly good food.

I’m not down with hungry children and elders.

I’m not down with the environmental havoc created by throwing away billions of pounds of food.

I’m not down with all the animals that are raised and killed just to end up in a dumpster.

If we all took action today, we could be well on our way to a solution tomorrow. The fact is that the solutions are all here already but many of us just have no clue about the issue. Awareness to the issue has been increasing drastically over the last few years but it still needs a big time push.

Dumpster diving is not the answer to The Global Food Waste Scandal but it really brings it to the attention of others and gets people thinking. I’ve dived into over 1,000 dumpsters in 25 states across America and seen The Food Waste Fiasco first hand. I’ve found that I can collect $1,000’s of dollars worth of perfectly good food in a matter of hours in nearly every city across America that I’ve been dumpster diving in.

This for example is how much food my friends and I found in Madison, Wisconsin dumpsters:

Food Waste Fiasco


And here’s one Panera Bread dumpster. This is just one days worth of waste at this Panera:

Panera Bread Food Waste Fiasco


Here’s what I found in two hours of opening up dumpsters in Detroit, a city with so much poverty:

Food Waste


I think getting more people out there dumpster diving for food will only help to battle the issues of wasted food and hunger. From what I can tell, the main reason that people who want to dumpster dive, but don’t go, is the fear of getting arrested or ticketed. I’ve learned from experience that this fear is mostly unwarranted but I’ve also learned this from talking to people and scouring the web. I would guess that millions of people have dumpster dove for food in America, yet I have turned up only a few cases of arrest and they all were dismissed after the public pressured the courts to do so. These cases did make a splash in the media and raised awareness but if I was behind the scenes (and in front of the scenes) I think we could make it a national media affair. I know that if someone was to get arrested for dumpster diving for food in the USA it would be a win for the fight against food waste. It would be an opportunity to bring the issue to the general public and more people would see the senseless waste that we’re creating.


Here’s the deal:

If you get arrested or ticketed for dumpster diving for food I promise to pay the ticket(s), get media coverage to the issue, and make sure that you are in safe hands. I will even travel to your town to be there in person if it will add to the positive impact of the event. (This promise is good for the USA and Canada but if you are in another country and in need of help, please contact me and I’ll see if I can lend a hand).

IMPORTANT: I am not telling you to get arrested and if you go and do something stupid to intentionally get arrested then don’t count on me for help. Do not get arrested on purpose! I’ll take your phone call regardless but won’t fight a case that has obvious intent of arrest. DO NOT make a mess of the dumpster, break any lock or break into anywhere, or vandalize. DO be courteous and respectful to anyone you may come across and leave the dumpster cleaner than you found it.

Dumpster diving is not illegal in most places but trespassing is. The act of digging through garbage is not illegal anywhere that I know of in the USA but if the dumpster is on private property you may have to trespass to get to it. You are much more likely to get in trouble for trespassing than dumpster diving. If there is no sign advising against entry and the dumpsters are not locked, then I say it’s completely fair game. If the dumpsters are easily accessible and have a sign I still say go for it. But if you have to break into anywhere, hop a fence or a wall, then I can’t say that I will surely be able to get on board. Definitely reach out to me though.

Like I said I have been in about 1,000 dumpsters across America and I have never been in trouble. I have been asked to leave by employees a couple dozen times though and it’s as simple as that, leaving upon request. Most employees that have stumbled upon me in their dumpster don’t mind at all though because they think it’s absurd to toss out perfectly good food. I have had the police come a few times and every time I explained what I was doing and walked away with a new friend.

This was one of my run ins with the police in Iowa. After letting me keep most of the food both of the cops friended me on Facebook and we’ve been in touch on occasion since then. Their police station even shared my story when I got this photo on the news in Wisconsin:

Arrested for Dumpster Diving

I have it easier than many though as I am pretty fluent with my knowledge and words and am easy on the eyes. A harsh reality of our society is that if I was all shabby looking or looked dangerous I’d probably have been in trouble by now.

Check out Dumpster Diving and the Law at to get more information about legalities and watch Dumpster Diving Across America to see what I’ve seen across America. For some of the solutions to food waste and hunger, check out The Food Waste Fiasco. The purpose behind my dumpster diving is to show how much perfectly good food is being wasted and put pressure on grocery stores to donate their excess food rather than dumping it. Grocery stores are protected from liability by The Good Samaritan Food Act and not a single grocery store has ever been sued after donating food to a non-profit according to this University of Arkansas study. Use #DonateNotDump to tell grocery stores to donate to food rescue programs and let them know they are safe to do so.

If you are a lawyer and would like to help in the case of someone getting ticketed or arrested please email through my contact page or leave your information in the comment section below.

Get out there and dumpster dive my friends! Feed yourself for free, feed others for free, save food from the landfills, and rest assured if you get in trouble that your financial woes are on me! Stand up for all the hungry people out there and bring attention to food waste!

Disclaimer added 04/23/16

In order for me to get involved your case must meet the following criteria:

-You must be willing to make this public so that we can use this as a means for positive change.

-Be arrested or ticketed for dumpster diving (or reasonable “trespassing” as explained above) and not for anything else that you may have been doing at the dumpster such as possessing illegal drugs.

-Be in the USA or Canada. I will likely be able to help in other countries but can only be certain to help in the USA or Canada.



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