Skip Hunters: The Etiquette Of Skips!

Skip Hunters: The Etiquette Of Skips!

There’s a lot, and we mean a lot, of stigma attached to skip hunting or “dumpster-diving”. The old saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” may ring true occasionally, but even some of the most die-hard skip-divers won’t admit to its practice in public. That’s primarily because skip-hunting typically involves lurking outside someone’s house or business in search of discarded household items that aren’t in too bad quality.

Surprisingly, however, skip-diving is becoming more and more popular. This is, in part, due to the results of the recession, but there are as many artists taking advantage of the wide range of waste materials available on the street as there are people looking to furnish their homes with perfectly fine furniture taken from skips.

The increasingly easy process of skip hire itself could also be a factor, as more people than ever can quickly and easily get their hands on the ideal size of skip for them.

Why Is Skip-Hunting So Popular?

Despite the associated stigma, many people still see searching through skips as a great way to save money and be environmentally-friendly as they re-use found fixtures which, otherwise, might have ended up in the landfill. There are thousands of DIY-ers, all over the world, who have completed projects using only materials they have taken from skips.

With the entire country’s increased dedication to recycling and reusing materials of all kinds, it is absolutely no surprise that some people are keen to “cut out the middle man” and get their hands on unwanted items and materials before they are recycled.

The International History Of Skip-Diving

The simple fact that skip-diving is popular certainly shouldn’t be a shocking fact. In the past, there have been many professions which have been dependant on other people’s waste for their own profession.

Rag-and-bone men in particular used to be extremely common across the country, although this trade died out in the latter half of the 20th century. Rage-and-bone men are becoming more common once more, as the price of certain materials, particularly scrap metal, has started to soar once again.

On an international level, particularly in British Columbia, there are many waste lots which are willing to pay for recyclable materials, including glass bottles. These people are often referred to as “binners”.

There are also people who tend to “dumpster-dive” as a result of their moral or ethical beliefs, rather than for economical or practical reasons. Usually self-identifying as freegans, these people will live exclusively from scavenged waste, including food or sellable materials, in order to reduce their environmental footprint, or as a means of protest against consumerism.

Over the past few years, there have also been many occasions in which criminals will scavenge through domestic or commercial skips in order to obtain sensitive information about their target. This could include personal details, including banking information, which can then be used to impersonate that person in order to steal from them.

The Practicalities Of Domestic And Commercial Skip-Diving

A wide variety of materials which are abandoned in skips are actually still working, or at least repairable, making them a prime target for any interested salvager. These tend to lean more, in skips, towards furniture and other items which might only be slightly damaged.

However, in commercial bins, divers will often find discarded food, such as near expiration date foodstuffs, or stock which is simply being replaced. Many retailers are reluctant to sell food which might cause any immediate problems, even for reduced prices, as they are often a liability risk. There have even been dedicated articles and cookery books which specialise in near expiration date food

Aside from these practical uses, it is becoming increasingly common for artists to work with waste products and materials, either for environmental reasons, or to make a political point about the waste we throw away on a regular basis. It is also often useful for students and garbologists, who study the sociology of modern waste, to research and obtain information.

The Hazards Of Skip-Diving!

Skip-hunting can be a dangerous, hazardous and unpleasant activity, particularly in the presence of organic waste. Other dangerous materials can include broken glass which, when combined with the presence of unsanitary conditions or potential biohazard waste, can result in the major likelihood of an infection developing around any open cuts.

The arguments against skip-diving for ethical or practical reasons often revolve around the potential impact that the activity can have on the diver’s health. There have been instances of skip-divers being killed while skip-diving, as nobody expects them to be there.

There are other risks as well, such as the potential for the skip-diver to leave waste around the skip, which could damage the nearby environment or create a potential hazard.

The Legality Of Skip-Hunting

Since skips and waste-bins are usually located on private premises, divers most commonly get into trouble for trespassing. The act of skip-diving itself is not actually prohibited by law, but many businesses are choosing to use skips with locks in order to prevent dumpster-divers. Lockable skips offer a range of advantages, including the limitation of potential liability in the event that a dumpster diver is damaged whilst on their property.

It is very rarely considered theft if someone takes materials from a skip, as they are usually considered as abandoned. However, there is still the risk that taking from a skip will fall under the Theft Act, 1968, in England or Wales, or simply as common-law theft in Scotland.

One of the most recent, and high-profile, cases of skip-diving in England was in October 2013, when three men were arrested and charged for taking food from the waste point behind an Iceland Supermarket. However, in January 2014 all charges were dropped following much public criticism and a personal request by the chief executive of Iceland.

Skip Hire And Unwanted Dumping

Aside from the risk of skip-divers, many neighbours will often take advantage of other people’s skip hire and abandon their own waste in these skips. Most people are alright with this so long as their neighbour asks them for permission, but there are many occasions where people will simply abandon waste without asking.

This can be a problem if you have a great deal of waste you need to get rid of and you chose a skip of the perfect size, or if they are abandoning waste which isn’t suitable for placement in skips.

To deter unwanted dumping, there are several things that you can do:

  • Place the skip in view of a CCTV camera, if you have one on your property. As most of this unwanted, illegal dumping will take place at night, the idea of being caught is often enough to deter dumping.
  • Place a sign on the skip. If you let people know that, once you’re finished with it, they can place their waste in it, they will often wait until you’ve thrown away all of your own waste.
  • Cover the skip with a tarpaulin. Not only will this work to stop rainwater from getting into the waste itself, but it can deter any would-be dumpers who are looking to make a quick getaway.

For The Most Reliable Skip Hire Service, Choose Skip Hire UK

Here at Skip Hire UK, we work alongside providers of local skip hire all across the country. We can provide skips to business and homeowners all over the country, and even help you to obtain skip permits if your skip needs to go on private property.

For a reliable service, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of skip hire professionals today on 0845 241 3488. If you have any questions or concerns, you can email us at and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!


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