Is It Illegal To Dumpster Dive In Tennessee?

Dumpster diving can be a great way to make a living, people are always getting rid of things with lots of financial value to them. These things can be antiques, collectibles, technology, furniture and so much more. They often need some repairing, but when you do get them repaired it can convert them into large sums of money that can provide a stable income. But you’re currently in Tennessee and you’re wondering to yourself whether or not it is illegal for you to dumpster dive. Here’s an extensive analysis to that very question.

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Dumpster Diving In The State Of Tennessee

Tennessee is one of the most popular dumpster diving states in America, hosting a myriad of shopping malls and various types of residential properties. This is important to note because shopping malls often have various kinds of valuable things thrown away into their dumpsters or trash bins almost every other day. This is where dumpster divers come in and take the valuable stuff (which they have to have a good eye for to see through the trash and get to the valuables), flip it or repair it if need be and then sell it for a profit or better yet keep it for themselves. It is not illegal or prohibited to dumpster in the state of Tennessee at large. However this can change or differ from city to city within the state. People will also most likely ridicule you but it is not against federal law to dumpster dive in Tennessee.

  • Always wear gloves, a face mask and some boots when dumpster diving, this is to help prevent any bacteria from making its way into your body.

Best Places To Dumpster Dive In Tennessee

As previously mentioned, Tennessee has a lot of shopping mall and residential properties which makes it a great state to dumpster dive in, it is better than almost other state in America. If you want to get the most out of your dumpster diving experience, here are a couple of places you can go to in the state of Tennessee.

Shopping Complexes And Strip Malls

These are great places to go for dumpster diving but should be done at night to avoid any trash talking or reports of disorderly conduct from the people who will be shopping there during the day. These two places can have huge dumpster areas and their dumpsters are usually located at the end or rear of the mall or shopping complex. The huge dumpsters are almost always packed with brand new items that maybe no longer meet a particular store’s requirements. In these dumpsters you can be sure to get anything from clothing, to backpacks and some electrical gadgets. Although it is not illegal to dumpster dive in Tennessee, some security guards that’ll be on duty at these strip malls or shopping complexes may be apprehensive about you dumpster diving in the daylight. Therefore it is better to go in the nighttime, just be sure to consult with the nightshift guards before making the dumpster dive to avoid problems.

Apartment Complexes

The dumpsters of apartment complexes can be great for finding things like used furniture (tables, chairs, etc.) usually the more bigger items. Especially on a day when people are moving out of an apartment complex in Tennessee, they tend to throw away these items (and many more others) in hopes of starting afresh. These items may not even be damaged, old or worn out. You can find apartment complex dumpsters at the rear of the structure, just make sure to consult with the owner or complex manager before dumpster diving. If you’re caught dumpster diving on private property like an apartment complex without any verbal or nonverbal agreement, you can be charged for trespassing.

Toy And Electronics Stores

When you dumpster dive at either of these two places in Tennessee you can expect to find brand new toys and/or tech just waiting to be obtained by somebody like you (a dumpster diver.) And these stores may often toss away things like smartphones, tablets, laptops, action figures, etcetera which would still be in their boxes. You can choose to keep these items for yourself or resell them. The choice is entirely up to you.

More Places You Can Dumpster Dive In Tennessee To Find Great Stuff


You can find day old donuts, bagels and other amazing pastries tossed out in a clear plastic bag or pastry box in the dumpster. But to be safe, approach the manager or business owner to grab a hold of the day old pastries before they’re thrown out into the dumpster to avoid eating contaminated stuff.

Construction Sites

Here you will be able to find all manner of tools and materials that you may find to be of great use at you own aboard. If you’re very lucky you can even find anything from kitchen cabinets to tiles and wooden materials (these can be left over items or may be deemed unusable by the builders.) Basically anything to do with the construction of a house or building, you can find in the dumpsters of construction sites. Just be sure to speak to the site foreman before anything else, as some of the construction workers may have asked for the materials themselves.


It is not illegal to dumpster dive in the state of Tennessee, however you can be charged for trespassing, theft (even if it is in someone’s trash) and/or disorderly conduct. That is why you should always approach the manager or employees of the establishment where you want to dumpster dive to avoid them from calling in the authorities on you. Laws on dumpster diving in Tennessee can be seen as a funnel, with the first (or top) stage being federal law where it is considered legal to dumpster dive and the last (or bottom) stage being private property where it is absolutely illegal to dumpster dive without the consent of the property owner.