SECRET FREEGAN: Rescuing Food to Feed Homeless


I've gathered over $125,000 worth of food and other stuff during the last five years. I've discovered that most grocery stores throw out $600 worth or more of fresh food every day. They will not donate the food to the hungry because of "liability concerns" and tax issues. I've cut my family's monthly grocery bill by $300 and given the rest to feed the homeless and needy. I love following your heart, kindness, and empowering others. I call myself a Secret Freegan. My hope is that our country will learn to distribute their leftover food to the homeless so everyone is nurtured. I'm doing a little by gathering and distributing about 400 lbs. of food weekly. Thanks for visiting my blog!

TV SHOW FEATURES MY FOOD RESCUING - Kind of scary to be so revealing!

Illustrated Poem Art
Illustrated Poem Art

My food efforts will be shown on TLC (The Learning Channel) on May 1st at 10:00 p.m. It is the finale show for the 2013 season of My Crazy Obsession.

I fluctuated on whether I should participate in this show--Will it try to make food rescue look as stupid as possible? Will it portray my "obsession" with rescuing food for the hungry in a fair way? Is it revealing too much information which will cause stores to lock their bins and excited people try a hand at it without using my safety precautions?

My hope is that it will shed a light on the massive food waste in the U.S. and help people work together to donate instead of waste it!

Some of my art pieces are featured in the show when I have a fun freegan fest combined with an art opening.

Dumpster Divin' Blues by Secret Freegan - Alice Tatum Sings the Blues

Photos of huge food waste in Phoenix, Arizona.

Food rescue by Secret Freegan 'Ginger Freebird.'

Such a pleasure to work with talented Alice Tatum in the studio.

This song I wrote tells the story of food waste in the USA and a freegan's response to it.

Co-produced by Donald Kehl of Alpha Studio in Tempe, Arizona.

Second video shows a night of food recovery and how to be a freegan safely.

Part I: Day in the Life of a Freegan - Reporter goes on a food run with Ginger Freebird

Ginger Freebird enjoys flowers she rescued from a store bin
Ginger Freebird enjoys flowers she rescued from a store bin

Standing beside a store dumpster opening a box of cookies she just pulled from a nearby garbage can, Ginger Freebird is a breath of fresh air. Dressed in black Sketcher shoes and dark Ray-Ban sunglasses, she commonly makes the rounds through her neighborhood, diving into its dumpsters to see what treasures might await.

A resident of Phoenix and in her early 50s, Freebird shows up armed with a number of the tools of the trade, including a thick jacket, aprons and gloves. Her short, dirty-blonde hair jutting out from beneath her dark baseball cap, Freebird looks every bit the part of one of the growing legion of "freegans," whose mission is to make use of the town rubbish.

Ginger, who adopted the name to enjoy anonymity for this part of her life, says she rescues usable items, including food, from trashcans, harvesting what she considers society's waste and giving any excess discoveries to those in need, a practice she calls "binning."

Like any line of work, being a freegan comes with its own tricks of the trade, shared mostly by those who have been at it awhile. First is simply knowing where to look.

According to Ginger, almost anyone would be surprised by how many usable items are thrown away, including fresh and completely edible foods, and to her that waste is even more disgusting than any of the dumpsters into which she delves.

Becoming a Freegan

Ginger Freebird of Phoenix sees herself as a "food rescuer" and wishes stores donated more of their discarded food to the needy. Some fresh dumpster finds include nearly perfect flowers. Photo Credit: Kimberly Hosey

Ginger says she first became aware of freeganism after watching a segment on Oprah in 2008. The broadcast featured investigative journalist Lisa Ling going on a food run in New York City with several freegans, discussing their philosophy along the way. The segment explained that rather than contribute to America's use-and-throw-away lifestyle, freegans sought to rescue usable food and items from the trash.

Ginger was immediately intrigued.

"A week later I checked out the bins behind a nearby large chain grocery store and found a medley of bananas, apples, potatoes, onions, avocados, kiwis, strawberries, lettuce and radishes. It was like Christmas! I was hooked after that," she says.

The word "freegan" is derived from compounding the words free and vegan, and even if many freegans aren't vegan or even vegetarians for that matter, the guiding philosophy behind saving waste does run parallel to general veganism ideals. The lifestyle is seen by many as a political statement against America's consumerist culture. While Ginger shares many views of the movement's more visible proponents, to her becoming a freegan was just plain common sense.

Ginger says the salvaged goods are better than you might expect. Profitable grocery stores run on efficiency, not charity. Most retailers constantly make room for new product, showcasing only the freshest, best-looking items, so items that some wouldn't hesitate to eat are thrown into the garbage. Some are only a day past their "sell by" dates, and will remain edible for several days. A dozen eggs, for instance, might be discarded for one egg in the carton being cracked. Day-old bakery goods are thrown away in giant, clean bags. Fresh flowers are tossed out.

"Grocery store bins are picked up every day of the week, so nothing is more than a day old," Ginger says. "I usually check every few hours, and the food on top is still cold and fresh. I also check for food recalls and make sure it has not been dumped for that reason."

Of the approximately 591 billion pounds of food produced in the United States each year, almost half goes to waste, according to a decade-long University of Arizona study released in 2004. Cost estimates to consumers and manufacturers range from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Networking Freegans

Ginger Freebird donates 11 boxes of food to a couple she met through Freecycle. Photo Credit: Ginger Freebird

Connie Finch of Chandler says she has always looked for ways to cut waste and help others. So a few months ago she answered a posting for free produce on the website, which led her to Ginger.

"I've got a lot of friends that are having very difficult times right now," Finch says. From a man who did work at her house but has been unemployed for three years, to a friend whose housekeeping service became a casualty of the rising recession, Finch has built her own network of needy to whom she regularly provides assistance.

After meeting Ginger, the two became a perfect match, forming a partnership of sorts. Recent health issues have precluded Finch from going binning, so she now relies on Ginger and regularly picks up food from her nearly every week, distributing it to several families in need.

Finch says she doesn't see freeganism as any different from other outreach efforts. She's always looked for ways to save items and help people. When a local church group was housing a family from Africa but didn't have beds, she was quick to donate two beds. When she learned that many women in shelters must leave in the middle of the night and have nothing with which to carry their belongings, she donated several large suitcases. As far as she's concerned, binning is just dealing with a middleman.

"I'm really glad I met (Ginger) through Freecycle, and I feel like we're both kind of contributing out there."

Freeganism, the Lifestyle

After a successful foraging trip, we return to Ginger's house and bring in the haul. Frozen items go in an extra freezer, and box after box goes into her kitchen, to be cleaned and repackaged for donation the next day.

Then we eat. From a dumpster. And it's delicious.

Cheese and green chili tamales, plum tomatoes and guacamole made from fresh avocados - all food from our recent outing - is served with sparkling San Pellegrino water (which was binned) in crystal goblets (purchased at a yard sale). It's a first-rate meal, all for the cost of the water it took to wash the food. We savor it.

"You can't go binning with someone and not feel like they're family," Ginger says, serving binned strawberry Newtons for dessert. And it's true. She's got enough interests - piano, photography, painting, gardening, music - that almost anyone will have something in common with her. But mostly it's the nature of outreach that she brings to the trips that engenders the greatest sense of camaraderie.

"Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet." You've probably heard it. You've probably deleted a cheesy e-mail containing the phrase. Heck, Ginger may have sent some of those e-mails. But in her case it's pretty accurate. She might add, "Some garbage is just food you haven't rescued yet," but it really is all about the people.

Freegan Rules

A lunch of tamales, sweet tomatoes, and fresh guacamole, all from grocery store trash bins. Photo Credit: Kimberly Hosey

"I don't recommend anyone try dumpster diving unless they're really in shape," Ginger says. "And be willing to use safety precautions such as gloves, long-sleeved clothes, a back brace and rarely or never actually go inside a bin. Use the proper tools."

She recommends a quality grabber tool as well as a hoe, rake or pool cleaning pole for heavy or out-of-reach items in the bin. She also stresses that binners need to be "discreet and have a 5-second getaway plan. Don't talk to any store people, just leave immediately if you are spotted," she says.

Ginger says that once a friend of hers had noticed a clothing store was throwing away clothes and asked the manager for permission to donate the clothing. After that, the clothes were shredded daily. "I learned not to talk to managers," Ginger says.

The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed in 1996, protects donors, corporations and individuals from liability when donating to a non-profit organization as long as the donation is made in good faith. Even with this protection and the related tax incentives, however, retailers often avoid what some believe could turn into bad publicity.

Part II: A Day in the Life of a Freegan - $240,000 food dumped by stores daily in Phoenix. I rescue what I can.

Distributing 11 boxes of rescued food
Distributing 11 boxes of rescued food

The Freegan Ride Along

Ginger pulls up at one of the final stops on a midday food run. "I love this place, but sometimes they don't have anything, and they might be watching," she says, dropping her voice to a whisper as she gets out from behind the wheel. "I know the exact squeak of that door. Just jump in and we'll get out of here if we hear it."

The covert mission proves fruitful. Artisan bread, blueberry waffles (still frozen), firm and unblemished tomatoes, organic basil in a sealed container and a large bag of walnuts all enjoy a quick trip from the dumpster to a box in the back of Ginger's SUV.

"Eating from a dumpster is often safer than eating from a restaurant," she says, pointing out that after she cleans off the produce, it will actually be quite a bit cleaner than the menus at many restaurants.

It's par for the course. Sometimes Ginger's hauls are much bigger, and it's a constant flow. She sends me an email one day later: "If you happen to be on my side of town … drop by and see the 25 boxes of food I've amassed over the last two days: entrées, bananas, apples, lettuce, peaches, veggie trays, raspberries, bread, desserts, garlic bread, pizzas."

It's not just food, either. Ginger often rescues clothes, appliances, suitcases and more from the garbage. Most of it is perfectly usable. She's even been able to sell some items: Mannequins, a golf case, a trade show display case that sold for over a thousand dollars. She's even made some weirder discoveries. Like the time out of the blue when the dumpster she was looking in began talking to her about her love life.

"A woman's voice starts speaking to me repeatedly: 'Want to find the perfect man? Come over here!' I found the culprit in the bin - a black box motion-sensor advertising video gimmick trying to sell shampoo," she says.

A Lifelong Spirit

Ginger Freebird's garden flourishes. She has gathered plants, seeds, and containers for planting from trash bins, and composts unusable binned food for fertile soil. Photo Credit: Ginger Freebird

Ginger's spirit of being frugal has been with her for her whole life. Actually, she says, it spans several lives. She was raised to be thrifty, and she was setting frugal trends as far back as her teens.

Jo, Ginger's mother who lives in California, is proud of her daughter's cause. Born during the Great Depression, Jo lived on what there was. She raised her daughters to do the same. In high school, Jo says, Ginger started the trend at her school of wearing patchwork skirts by being the first to make one from scraps they had at home. Now, she visits California whenever she can, bringing a veritable cornucopia of binned goods for her mother and sister.

"She brings me beautiful clothes and comforters and duvets. She gets a lot of things from bins that are in excellent condition, and she always cleans them. Pillows, kitchen items, a large commercial oven mitt that comes way up so that I won't burn myself, toaster ovens, coats, shoes, flowers and sometimes food, dry food, rugs, flour and vegetable seeds. Our whole back yard is planted - Ginger planted them - and they were from seeds that she had rescued," Jo says. Some of the items come from garage sales, but much of it is from dumpsters. And Jo is thrilled.

"Every time she comes it's like Christmas," she says.

More than that, Jo is grateful to Ginger for the awareness she spreads.

"It's awakened me so much," she says. "I had no idea, and I don't think most people do."

Ginger says she's not trying to turn everyone into dumpster divers, though she would like to collaborate with like-minded individuals to raise awareness, and possibly start a non-profit organization dedicated to education and sustainable scavenging. She is willing to teach serious aspiring binners how to be safe and successful.

A closer look at freeganism reveals that it's not about the yuck factor and rebellion, but compassion and frugality and a growing sense of the massive amounts of waste all around us. Most freegans just seem to be looking for like-minded allies.

Connie Finch's name was changed for this story.

Cover photo credit: Kimberly Hosey

Dumpster Diving 101:

3 Top Reasons You Should Never Dumpster Dive

1. Dumpsters are obviously disgusting and filthy.

They harbor germs galore, including those that could cause food poisoning, staph, and pneumonia...and in Los Angeles three-quarters of them are tainted with drug residue*...oh, I was talking about United States dollar bills-not dumpsters.

The majority of store dumpsters are emptied daily by sanitation trucks, so the contents are no older than 24 hours. Most of the dumpster contents were for sale on store shelves a couple hours earlier, so they can't be too rotten!

2. Dumpster diving is outside the norm of society's accepted behaviors. And it just feels wrong!

Grocery store corporate policy ensures purposely wasting all of today's leftovers from every department: bakery, floral, deli, meat, produce, and frozen goods. If there is one brown leaf on a head of lettuce, out goes the whole head. They could legally choose to donate it to charity, and receive a beneficial tax write-off for doing so. At least they could compost the food and recycle the vast sea of packaging materials. But that would entail doing things differently, rewriting policy, and taking the time to brainstorm and figure out the most efficient way to implement the new policy.

What feels more wrong-recovering the edible food and feeding dozens of families- or letting it clog our landfills where it emits methane, a gas much more toxic to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide?

3. Dumpster diving is irresponsible and dangerous.

One of my neighbors, Gus, throws a huge party every day for the whole neighborhood. The guests are treated to an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet with thousands of varieties of food. And every day he orders his staff to don sanitary plastic gloves and place $500-$2,000 worth of his gala's leftover in clean plastic bags. Then he orders more staff to place the bags in the garbage bin beside his house.

I once asked my neighbor if he could donate the food to local charities-after all, there are 10,000 people living in their cars or on the streets in our city of Phoenix alone. He said, "And what would I do if one of those poor people decided to make some money by claiming to get sick from my food and taking me to court? What kind of publicity would that bring me? What would that do to my reputation? No one would come to my party anymore!"

He went on, "Of course, I'd have to settle out of court quickly to minimize the publicity. That could be very expensive for me. I give a truckload of canned goods to the local food bank every day, but I am forced to throw all the rest away. I just can't take that liability risk."

I've watched how Gus operates. I know his food dumping schedule. I regularly drive to his place, quietly fill up my car with the food bags, bring them home, open them up, and organize the food in my three refrigerator/freezers. The following day I distribute it to local needy people.

Oh-"Gus" is just a nickname for my neighbor. "My Neighborhood Grocery Store" is his full name. Now who is the wackiest, more irresponsible one-"Gus," the local chain grocery store- or me, the local dumpster diver?

*Statistics from Broke is Beautiful, by Laura Lee

In the last 3 ½ years, Secret Freegan has donated $92,000 worth of recovered goods to the needy and saved over $12,000 in grocery bills. She is a suburban housewife, mother, and teacher with two Master’s degrees. Photos and videos of her finds can be viewed at

Dumpster Diving Tools - For Safe and Fast Dumpster Diving!

You need this grabber that is the strongest I've found, a headlight for night diving, a hoe to reach boxes and pull them towards you as you stand outside the bin, a back brace so you don't hurt your back, and more...

Food Run - Food Recovery for Charity

Secret Freegan finds a boatload of food on a night run for free food to donate to the hungry. The stores will not donate because of liability fears. If we donated 1/4 of the food we waste in the USA, we could feed the world twice over. It is legal to be a "picker" of abandoned goods.

Rescuing Food

Daily Waste from One Store - Fresh food rescued and donated

grocery waste
grocery waste

Dumpster Diving Video - Freegan feeds the needy

Reporter Liz Lastra of Cronkite Newswatch follows Ginger Freebird, the "Secret Freegan" on a day of gathering free food for the needy in Phoenix, Arizona. Secret

Rescuing Food to Donate to Homeless Shelters - One bin, $2,000 worth of food

"Secret Freegan" goes on daily hunts for fresh food to donate to homeless shelters. Here's some of her finds on Thanksgiving Day: 150 bananas, over 300 bread loaves, 100 salads, and more...

Rescued Food ready for Homeless Shelter

$2,000 worth of food brought home, sorted, displayed under Xmas tree/Hanukkah bush, just before taking to homeless shelter Thanksgiving 2008.

Hundreds of loaves, salads, entrees 1 bin 1 day--this shows half of it!

Hundreds of loaves, salads, entrees 1 bin 1 day--this shows half of it!
Hundreds of loaves, salads, entrees 1 bin 1 day--this shows half of it!

Every Day inside an American Bin

How I've Donated over $40,000 Worth of Good Food to the Homeless

Teen Shelter's Grocery Bill Slashed from $500 to $50/Week

Every week a teen runaway shelter picks up 200 lbs. of food from me. They have even donated a second fridge for my garage so I can store more food for them safely.

Every day I check certain bins for fresh bags and boxes of food. It is like someone has emptied an enormous refrigerator and freezer, put the items in clean bags and boxes, and placed them outside for a few minutes for me to find. Here's a photo of a bin full of over 100 loaves of today's bread.

The bins are picked up by dump trucks every single day. There is no old food. I have never seen one insect in 8 months.

The average store throws out $500-$800 worth of fresh food every day: 100 loaves bread, 10 cakes and pies, 100 donuts, 50 bagels, 100 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables: lettuce, celery, radishes, peaches, nectarines, grapes, artichokes, asparagus, oranges, lemons, peppers, tomatoes, kiwis, mushrooms, parsley, onions,and potatoes, etc.

Every Day Inside Bins Across America - Massive Food Waste

Cantaloupes, organic bananas, fruit platters, tomatoes, potatoes, dozens of donuts, mangoes,eggplants, plantains

How a Homeless Teen Got Rollerblades - Now he can cruise to work instead of live on drugs

1. Teen is living on street

2. Teen is approached by shelter outreach workers with delicious food

3. Teen then wants to go to shelter

4. Teen gets help and finds a job

5. Budget of shelter is freed up from buying food

6. Shelter buys him new roller blades to get to work

Teen Shelter Van Filled with Food

Teen Shelter Van Filled with Food
Teen Shelter Van Filled with Food

126 Bags of Chips the Runaway Teens Loved!

126 Bags of Chips the Runaway Teens Loved!
126 Bags of Chips the Runaway Teens Loved!

Picnic for 40

Picnic for 40
Picnic for 40

$72 Million Worth of Good Food Dumped

That's approximately how much is wasted yearly in my city alone--even though the stores give to food banks. They toss out packages of vegetables & fruits when even one item is showing signs of age, or they're all good, they just have newer produce and no shelf room. They will not give it to me outright because of "liability" issues though the Federal Good Samaritan Food Act protects them.

So I discreetly drive by the bins and load boxes of food into my car at times few people are around.

Food Safety

Be careful!

The safest foods to rescue are fresh fruits and vegetables. You can see if they're fresh or not. Since they come from the ground,they need to be washed no matter where you buy/find them. I suggest washing them with a solution of 1 tsp. blue-capped type bleach of a big bowl of water, OR add 1 tsp.baking soda OR 1 Tbsp. white vinegar OR a commercial vegetable washing liquid found in a health food store.

Frozen or refrigerated meals must be very cold. Don't take them if they're warm. (Winter is good for binning.) Any cooked meats taken must be refrigerated as soon as possible, and heated to 165 degrees core temperature before eating.

Bin contents--100 Bread & Bakery Items

Bin contents--100 Bread & Bakery Items
Bin contents--100 Bread & Bakery Items

Organic Eating

I love eating organic food! I have found that much of the produce thrown out by stores is organic, because they may have a few spots on them, or spoil quicker than those grown with pesticides. I haven't had to buy any organic greens for months (the main staple of my diet) as I find chard, spinach, collards, lettuce, spices, etc. every week, not to mention lots of organic bananas for smoothies. Found 2 boxes with 25 bunches of asparagus yesterday.

Rescued Food

Organic bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, turnips, cantaloupes, donuts, lilies, wheat grass, avocados, limes, pears, nectarines, smoothie made from fresh fruits

Saved Strawberries

Saved Strawberries
Saved Strawberries

Boxes ready to be sorted

Boxes ready to be sorted
Boxes ready to be sorted

Rescued Roses

Rescued Roses
Rescued Roses

A Typical Day at the Bin

Here's a small portion of what I typically find in a day. I'm very thankful for all of it, and usually can feed about 25 other people with it. I sort and box it neater before taking to a shelter. I make sure it's a shelter that doesn't require packaged, dated food as a few do. I don't drive around and let the food go bad. I immediately take it home, process it by sorting, bagging, putting in fridge or I take it immediately to a shelter. Food safety is important!

More Rescued Food

From the Bin

Bagels, bread, potatoes, tortillas, bananas, apples, nectarines, plums, mangoes, lettuce

Sweet Strawberries

40 packages saved

Recycle at

Please do NOT leave your electronics and furniture in and beside bins, America!

Take to a charity thrift store or find out where to recycle at

Here's what I get in a day.


Trash Pickers Help Green Crusade

Freegan by Necessity not Choice

Trash Pickers Save the World

March 25, 2008 McClatchy Newspapers

Buenos Aires, Argentina--

"As the world scrambles to save dwindling resources and halt global warming, a long-scorned population is becoming the latest hope in the environmental battle.

The unsung heroes are impoverished trash pickers who fill the streets of cities around the developing world, searching garbage for cardboard, plastic bags and other treasure that can be sold and recycled.

They rescue hundreds of thousands of tons of material from streets and trash dumps that get reprocessed into all kinds of products. That not only cuts back on the resources used by industries but also lightens the load on dumps that are quickly reaching capacity.

Despite their contributions, trash pickers have long suffered harassment from local governments and derision from neighbors, who often consider them vagrants or even criminals. Such attitudes, however, are changing, trash pickers said, and they're increasingly being seen as foot soldiers in the global-warming battle."

Lovely Lillies

Lovely Lillies
Lovely Lillies

An Afternoon's Pickings

An Afternoon's Pickings
An Afternoon's Pickings

Another afternoon of Fresh Produce

Another afternoon of Fresh Produce
Another afternoon of Fresh Produce

Free Lunch

Free Lunch
Free Lunch

Sweets to Eat

Sweets to Eat
Sweets to Eat

Buy My Tell-All E-Book to Learn All My Secrets! $22

What tools to use,Stay unnoticed,Donate...More

Overflowing with fresh veggies and fruit

Food activism in progress

I gather the produce, sort, and refrigerate for one day if I can't get it to the shelter the same day.

Bins Bursting with $500 worth of produce

Like a multi-fruit tree

I pick up the boxes and lay them in my car, careful to leave things as neat as I found them. Have my car lined with plastic sheeting so I don't drip on the seats too much. Got a whole car full, shared with shelter and some needy families.

30 Pounds of Grapes and Strawberries

Sweet and delicious

Organic Produce


Where to Donate Food

Recently I started listing Free Groceries on my local group site. The people who have come by to pick up the food have been amazing, grateful, and interested in what I'm doing. One receiver brought me soup and dehydrated apples she made from the food. Another gal is going to help me with a photography shoot I'm doing soon. Another gave me a hand written thank you note. Another told me the flowers and food she received totally made her day, and she impressed her relatives with a beautiful feast.

Plants and Flowers

Rescued and Restored

Lots dumped after Mother's Day

Secret Freegan Builds a Worm Farm - Vermiculture Fun

Worms make the best compost. They are silent, non-smelly, easy "pets" to have. They eat up leftover veggies and fruit so it doesn't have to go into the landfill and create dangerous methane.

Ice Cream Galore unceremoniously dumped in bin

Discarded, then Discovered while still frozen

Another treat for the teens

Hundreds of Health Bars

Hundreds of Health Bars
Hundreds of Health Bars

Go Green!

Go Green!
Go Green!

Green Books on Amazon

Wise Words from Scavenger and Writer Lars Eighner

Life's Lessons Found Deep in Thrown Away Stuff

On Dumpster Diving

Lars Eighner


A freelance writer living in Austin, Lars Eighner (b. 1948) was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and attended the University of Texas from 1966 to 1969. He was an attendant ward worker at the Austin State Hospital from 1980 to 1987 and worked off and on for a drug crisis program and as a freelance writer.

Lars Eighner and his dog Wilma

Eighner lived on the streets for several years, and his homeless experiences are recalled in Travels with Lizbeth (1993), which became a best seller and from which "Dumpster Diving" is excerpted. "Dumpster Diving" was first anthologized in The Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses in 1992.

I find from the experience of scavenging two rather deep lessons. The first is to take what you can use and let the rest go by. I have come to think that there is no value in the abstract. A thing I cannot use or make useful, perhaps by trading, has no value however rare or fine it may be. I mean useful in a broad sense--some art I would find useful and some otherwise.

I was shocked to realize that some things are not worth acquiring, but now I think it is so. Some material things are white elephants that eat up the possessor's substance. The second lesson is the transience of material being. This has not quite converted me to a dualist, but it has made some headway in that direction. I do not suppose that ideas are immortal, but certainly mental things are longer lived than other material things.

Once I was the sort of person who invests objects with sentimental value. Now I no longer have those objects, but I have the sentiments yet.

Many times in our travels I have lost everything but the clothes I was wearing and Lizbeth. The things I find in Dumpsters, the love letters and rag dolls of so many lives, remind me of this lesson. Now I hardly pick up a thing without envisioning the time I will cast it aside. This I think is a healthy state of mind. Almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone.

Anyway, I find my desire to grab for the gaudy bauble has been largely sated. I think this is an attitude I share with the very wealthy--we both know there is plenty more where what we have came from. Between us are the rat-race millions who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what.

I am sorry for them.

More about Lars Eighner

A Freegan Dumpster Diving Blog

A guy in Denmark shares his Freegan Secrets

Thoughts from another good-hearted "freegan" from

The blog has video links and lots of details about European Dumpster diving.

The author says:

The term "freegan" does imply choice, but her knowledge of freegans seems limited to the unsurprisingly narrowminded media attention they've received. this is probably where the second asumption comes from, that freegans are unambitious, lazy, and don't contribute to society. presuming so reduces everyone down to nothing but consumers. many freegans do have jobs, and many also contribute to society in ways that can't be measured by economics, and in ways that benefit the whole of humanity, not just the top 5%. what they definitely don't do is hurt the bottom 80%. dumpster divers are not "bums/freeloaders/losers", they're not living off others in a way that deprives anyone of anything (apart from maybe each other, if they get too greedy). they simply live off the waste, the stuff that someone else has decided they don't wont and rather than passing it on to someone in need (as 'food not bombs' does) has attempted to selfishly destroy it. dumpster divers cause no harm, we just take advantage (something all good capitalists should understand). we reduce waste that would otherwise go to landfill and help feed a few hungry mouths.

Food Given to Charity

Food Given to Charity
Food Given to Charity

Garbagology Books - Really Makes You Think

Green Books on Amazon

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act

Benefits for Donating Extra Food

The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into existence in 1996. It encourages donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to needy individuals.

Here's how this law makes it easier for you to donate:

* It protects you from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the needy recipient.

* It standardizes donor liability exposure. You and your legal counsel no longer have to investigate liability laws in 50 states.

* It sets a liability floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate, defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person."

* Congress recognized that the provision of food being close to the date of recommended retail sale is, in and of itself, not grounds for finding gross negligence.

Here is the full text of the federal law which protects grocery stores and all who donate food to the needy. I have highlighted important areas toward the end:

Text of Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

PUBLIC LAW 104-210

An Act

To encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals by giving the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act the full force and effect of law.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

conduct was likely to be harmful to the health or well-being

of another person.'';

(D) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following:

(c) Liability for Damages From Donated Food and Grocery Products.--

(1) Liability of person or gleaner.--A person or gleaner

shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising

from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently

wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that

the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a

non-profit organization for ultimate distribution to needy


(2) Liability of non-profit organization.--A non-profit

organization shall not be subject to civil or criminal

liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or

condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently

fit grocery product that the non-profit organization

received as a donation in good faith from a person or

gleaner for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.

Good Samaritan Food Act: The Main Text



(a) SHORT TITLE. —This section may be cited as the "Good Samaritan Food Donation Act".

(b) DEFINITIONS. —As used in this section:

(1) APPARENTLY FIT GROCERY PRODUCT.—The term "apparently fit grocery product" means a grocery product that meets a quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the product may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.

(2) APPARENTLY WHOLESOME FOOD. —The term "apparently wholesome food" means food that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.

(3) DONATE.—The term "donate" means to give without requiring anything of monetary value from the recipient, except that the term shall include giving by a nonprofit organization to another nonprofit organization, notwithstanding that the donor organization has charged a nominal fee to the donee organization, if the ultimate recipient or user is not required anything of monetary value.

(4) FOOD.—The term "food" means any raw, cooked, processed, or prepared edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use in whole or in part for human consumption.

(5) GLEANER. —The term "gleaner" means a person who harvests for free distribution to the needy, or for donation to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to the needy, an agricultural crop that has been donated by the owner.

(6) GROCERY PRODUCT. —The term "grocery product" means a nonfood grocery product, including a disposable paper or plastic product, household cleaning product, laundry detergent, cleaning product, or miscellaneous household item.

(7) GROSS NEGLIGENCE.—The term "gross negligence" means voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.

(8) INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT.—The term "intentional misconduct" means conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is harmful to the health or well-being of another person.

(9) NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.—The term "nonprofit organization" means an incorporated or unincorporated entity that —-

(A) is operating for religious, charitable, or educational purposes; and

(B) does not provide net earnings to, or operate in any other manner that inures to the benefit of, any officer, employee, or shareholder of the entity.

(10) PERSON.—The term "person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, including a retail grocer, wholesaler, hotel, motel, manufacturer, restaurant, caterer, farmer, and nonprofit food distributor or hospital. In the case of a corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, the term includes an officer, director, partner, deacon, trustee, council member, or other elected or appointed individual responsible for the governance of the entity.

(c)LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES FROM DONATED FOOD AND GROCERY PRODUCTS. - A person or gleaner shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury to or death of an ultimate user or recipient of the food or grocery product that results from an act or omission of the donor constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

(d) COLLECTION OR GLEANING OF DONATIONS.—A person who allows the collection or gleaning of donations on property owned or occupied by the person by gleaners, or paid or unpaid representatives of a nonprofit organization, for ultimate distribution to needy individuals shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability that arises due to the injury of death of the gleaner or representative, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury or death that results from an act or omission of the person constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

(e) PARTIAL COMPLIANCE.—If some or all of the donated food and grocery products do not meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, the person or gleaner who donates the food and grocery products shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability in accordance with this section if the nonprofit organization that receives the donated food or grocery products-

(1) is informed by the donor of the distressed or defective condition of the donated food or grocery products;

(2) agrees to recondition the donated food or grocery products to comply with all the quality and labeling standards prior to distribution; and

(3) is knowledgeable of the standards to properly recondition the donated food or grocery product.

(f) CONSTRUCTION.—This section shall not be construed to create any liability.


The model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (provided in section 402) is intended only to serve as a model law for enactment by the States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories and possessions of the United States. The enactment of section 402 shall have no force or effect in law.

Goodies - 30 minute gourmet gathering

Flowers, bread, bagels, pies, pastries, cinnamon rolls, asparagus, apples, potatoes, bananas, juice drinks

Boxes of Food

Breadbox, Knives, Security Sign Dumped

Breadbox, Knives, Security Sign Dumped
Breadbox, Knives, Security Sign Dumped

Pizzas, Spareribs, & Trimmings for Teens

Pizzas, Spareribs, & Trimmings for Teens
Pizzas, Spareribs, & Trimmings for Teens

Grapes & Strawberries for the Homeless

Grapes & Strawberries for the Homeless
Grapes & Strawberries for the Homeless

Genetically Engineered Food Causes Problems like Death

Mass death of Sheep from grazing GE cotton field

At least 1,820 sheep were reported dead after grazing on post-harvest Bt cotton crops; the symptoms and post-mortem findings strongly suggest they died from severe toxicity.


Genetically Engineered Food

Alarming Facts About GE Food from

Alarming facts about

genetically engineered foods

* Animals have become seriously ill or died from Genetically Engineered (GE) foods

* Hazardous genes from GE foods that you eat can become inserted into your own genes

* An unexpected poison killed 37 persons eating a food supplement produced by GE bacteria. This disaster was not coincidental:

* Top researchers confirm that genetic engineering is inherently unsafe and unpredictable. It may therefore generate unexpected harmful substances in GE food

* Numerous studies have demonstrated that GE causes "non-target effects" in addition to the specific "desired effect". These effects are little understood, completely unpredictable and may be hazardous to the individual and the environment. This underscores the fundamental unsafety of genetic engineering.

* The present procedure for assesing the safety of GE foods is not designed to detect unexpected substances

* Therefore, harmful substances may appear in GE food approved as food

* Still, GE foods are sold in most food stores in the US and in many other countries

* In the US and Canada, they are not even labeled

What is genetic engineering?

Warning for disinformation at the internet. Corporations systematically misuse the internet for confusing people about issues and organizations that threaten their interests.



Genetically Engineered (GE) = Genetically Modified (GM) = Genetically Altered.


What foods are genetically engineered?

Many common foods are, including: Corn, Soy, Wheat, Canola, Tomato , Potato , Rice , Cantaloupe , Sugar beet - (all kinds of sugar) , Radicchio , Flax (linseed) , Papaya , Squash , Oilseed rape, Alfalfa.

All of these, and products made of them, including common infant feeds, may contain unexpected harmful substances.

And remember, in the US, the GE foods are not labeled.

In order to make it easy for you to rapidly get a good idea about the issue, we have created an introduction in steps with increasing amounts of detail at each step.

Step one

Our main conclusions at a glance

Commercial application of genetic engineering for production of foods cannot be scientifically justified and carries with it unpredictable and potentially serious consequences.

The reasons are as follows:

# The knowledge about the genes and how they work is too incomplete to make it possible to predict and understand all consequences of genetic engineering.

# The knowledge about the health safety of GE foods is seriously incomplete.

# The knowledge about the environmental safety of GE organisms is seriously incomplete.

# It has been scientifically established that unexpected effects can occur from genetic engineering that are hazardous to health and the surroundings.

# Science has established that there is no need for GE organisms for feeding the world or solving nutritional deficiency problems.

# Food biotechnology perpetuates environmentally unsustainable industrial agriculture. It is based on chemicals of various kinds that are demonstratedly harmful to health and to the environment.

Why GE foods should be banned immediately

Considering that GE organisms are unsafe to eat and that they expose the environment to unpredictable and irreversible risks, they should be banned. It is not justified to take any risk at all in using them as there is no need for them to feed the world and because they perpetuate unsustainable agriculture that is harmful to health and to the environment.

On the following pages you will find more details explaining our position.

Published by

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of

Science and Technology (PSRAST)

This website was created in december 1996

Last update: May 15, 2008

Secret Freegan featured in U.S. News & World Report

Thanks, Dear Prudence for mentioning my savory freegan food photos!

Rescued cakes and flower bouquets heading for the shelter!

Rescued cakes and flower bouquets heading for the shelter!
Rescued cakes and flower bouquets heading for the shelter!

Rescued fruits and vegetables ready to sort for shelter!

Rescued fruits and vegetables ready to sort for shelter!
Rescued fruits and vegetables ready to sort for shelter!

Tons of rescued food under Hannukah bush ready for homeless shelter!

Tons of rescued food under Hannukah bush ready for homeless shelter!
Tons of rescued food under Hannukah bush ready for homeless shelter!

Boxes of rescued food for Phoenix homeless shelter

Boxes of rescued food for Phoenix homeless shelter
Boxes of rescued food for Phoenix homeless shelter

More Rescued Food Ready to Sort

More Rescued Food Ready to Sort
More Rescued Food Ready to Sort

Food Rescue - 6 Boxes Like This Thrown Out Every Night

Grocery Store Waste
Grocery Store Waste

Phoenix, Arizona Rescued Food

Arizona dumpster diving
Arizona dumpster diving

Stores Waste is my Abundance

Stores waste $600-$2100 food/day

A couple days ago on my regular noon "food run" where I drive a short distance to a local chain grocery store, I found lots of cold yogurt, milk, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lettuce, and more. Kept enough for my family and donated the rest. I stood beside the bin and picked up the items with my Grabber tool and put them into a box, then took the box to my car parked 20 feet away, and repeated the process. I always take empty boxes in case the store throws things away without leaving them in big boxes like they usually do. Saves a lot of trips going to the car.

Thank you for sharing comments and experiences about urban harvesting.

What do you think of helping the hungry with rescued food? - and I wonder, Have you ever looked in a bin yourself? 81 comments

aka-rms profile image

aka-rms 8 years ago from USA

I've lensrolled this on to my Who are the Freegans? lens!

anonymous 8 years ago

Wow, what a great idea! I have friends that take food from dumpsters, but I haven't thought of giving it to homeless shelters. I'll let them know about what you've done, and link your page to them.

What a wonderful idea!

tdove 8 years ago

Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

RawBill1 profile image

RawBill1 8 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

I know of people in Australia who eat this way and they say that often there is too much for them to carry! They have bikes with trailers! Giving it away to people less fortunate is a wonderful thing to do! :-)

anonymous 8 years ago

ToyRescue ~ New ~ Vintage ~ Refurbished

Unlike thrift stores - We clean, repair and help find homes for unwanted toys and other items.

Recycled toys , Anime, Antiques, Appliances, Backpacks, Bags, Clothing, Costumes, Decorations, Disney, Dolls, Electronics, Figurines, Furniture, Green, Housewares, Memorabilia, Pokémon, Sanrio, Sesame Street, Snoopy, Stuffed animals, Souvenirs, Thrift, Toy Repairs

Tiffany3 profile image

Tiffany3 8 years ago

LOVE your lens!!! Thanks for the great info and for what you are doing to feed the hungry.

anonymous 8 years ago

Hi Secret Freegan. We follow each other on Twitter, and I just wrote a blog post about the term freegan. I linked to this website and talked a bit about what you do. You can see the post at

Also, I used a photo from your site and credited you. If you would rather I not use the photo, please let me know, and I'll remove it.

I think what you're doing is awesome.

Belindance 8 years ago

People have no idea how much food is wasted in our society. People think poor people get all the help they need from food banks, not so the food is usually of a poor quality, and you're limited to how many time a year you can receive help.

Most freegans have to do this, they have chronic health problems, live on social security or disability, or just don't make enough money. Nowadays that a lot of the population.

Keep up the good work, you are a true "Earth Angel"!

anonymous 8 years ago

Very interesting... I'll be following on twitter, plus adding to this weekend's link-roundup for "green" on my blog,

retta719 profile image

retta719 8 years ago from United States

Wow. Just wow is all I can say. I'm amazed at what truly gets tossed out at a store. I've never looked in a bin, but I'm thinking I might have to start taking a peek.

anonymous 8 years ago

I love love love what you do.....The waste in our country makes me crazy. Keep it up.

anonymous 8 years ago

Hi!!! I follow you on Twitter and I think what you're doing is the most marvelous thing ever! Makes me cry tears of joy! Keep it up Secret Freegan!

jpetals 8 years ago

What a fascinating lens with wonderful detail. 5 stars!! You lead such a wonderful and interesting life... awesome.

ShamanicShift 8 years ago


What an amazing eye-opening useful lens! I am going to link to it on one of my (still relatively few I'm afraid) lenses.

Many Blessings,

~ Elizabeth


Penycat profile image

Penycat 8 years ago

We've started doing the same here where I live after seeing the show on Oprah and our pics are close to the same! I can't believe how much we throw away. I've got a large group of homeless that we feed now each week, we have dozens of families that have been struggling that we give food to though diving. Only thing I don't yet know if the "official" law on it in my city. any idea where I can find that? I've searched online, but still haven't found a yes or no. Thanks for this lens!

anonymous 8 years ago

Excellent work .... inspiration!

We're trying to start up the same thing here in Michigan but finding so many restrictions as the majority of bins are locked and/or stores have compacting units.

If you ever have any ideas or suggestions on how to overcome some of these obstacles, we're all ears....

Thanks again for the work you do.


anonymous 7 years ago

I just rescued my first batch of goodies yesterday with my partner in crime (as going behind some of the stores is a little creepy and its nice to have a driver and a diver for quick gettaway;). just took two boxes but they were just sitting there with labels dated to expire that same day! left some of it for other people who might need it, some people we know who are fellow freegans. everything totaled about 150 dollars including some very nice expensive fontina cheese that was just divine.

Looking forward to donating to charity since there is such an abundance! Hooray for food liberation!

Demaw profile image

Demaw 7 years ago

I am very impressed by your service to your community. This lens gave me food for thought. 5*

anonymous 7 years ago

I've been doing what you're doing (although not as much volume) since last year. What you're doing is a blessing to so many people. I find so much food it's insane what grocery stores throw away. My food finds have helped me and many people in my neighborhood who are hurting. It's a shame what stores throw away. It really is. But you can't save the world. But I'm doing my part one bin at a time to help others.

Quirina 7 years ago

Kudos, you are doing a great job!

You might be interested to know that similar projects started in Germany in the mid-90's. In Berlin, a non-profit organization was founded that collects leftovers from stores, restaurants, canteens and other sources. But in contrast to you, they do not collect it secretly from the garbage, but have those companies as official partners/donors. It works well, has become big and spread to many cities in Germany. The original organization is called 'Berliner Tafel' (Tafel being a word for a dining table). If you might like to visit their website:

anonymous 7 years ago


I'm a New Yorker seeking to join an organization that does this (or start a grassroots movement of my own). Is there anyone who can lead me in the right direction? I don't know where to start. Please email me at


anonymous 6 years ago

I would really like to learn how to do this or get hints on where the best store are. I am in the El Mirage, AZ area would love to help local food banks or shelters.

JenOfChicago LM profile image

JenOfChicago LM 6 years ago

I have known groups that do this in the past, and it can definitely work. Blessed by a squidangel

anonymous 6 years ago

I'm from St. Louis, and we are fortunate to have an organization, Operation Food Search that we work with to provide over 4000 meals each week with perishable food. Instead of it going into the dumpster... we work with OFS and pick up the food from grocery stores, outdoor farmer's markets, and this year - even Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinal's play to keep the food from going into the dumpster... and into the tummys of hungry people.

It works.. and we've been doing this in an organized manner for 12 years.

Any city can do this; and it doesn't take much except consistency. Food donors want to make sure you pick up when you say you will. The Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, passed in the 80's, insures the donor that when the food leaves their premises, they are no longer responsible for it. We are... and that does take some skill to make certain that nothing harms anyone.

Would be glad to share what we've learned with others who want to feed those who are hungry.

anonymous 6 years ago

have you ever gotten sick from this?

anonymous 6 years ago

I have done that myself when I was homeless. Unfortunately in most states it is illegal. I almost got arrested for tresspassing. I think it is great what you do.

clouda9 lm profile image

clouda9 lm 6 years ago

This is quite a venture you have taken on! It is appalling to see all that food dumped, especially when there are so many starving and homeless people right here within our US borders. Stores have probably had to not give due to our litigious society...damn shame for sure.

Thank you for following your heart to do this!

sind310 6 years ago

I live in Los Angeles/Long Beach area, does any one know where I can go dumpster diving without getting arrested???

anonymous 6 years ago

Wow, I too hate the waste that goes on in this country. I used to work at a hotel and they'd dump barrels of filet and lobster after a banquet. I'm seriously thinking about this freegan thing. I can't get you free pizza, but may these pizza coupons can help...

anonymous 6 years ago

Hello! I'm helping to produce a show in LA, and I would love to get in touch with local Freegans to interview. Respond to this comment or send me an email if you're interested!

EmmaCooper LM profile image

EmmaCooper LM 6 years ago

Awesome :) I have lensrolled you on my Really Rubbish Ideas lens, which is all about reducing waste.

fruagalheart 5 years ago

A lot of that food looks better than our local stores sell. Good for you for doing this. I see people on the stockpiles forum at site have donated there extra stuff they get free after coupons are doubled or a rebate is used but what you are doing goes way beyond the stockpiles the gals have accumulated and donate from the site I just mentioned

anonymous 5 years ago

ok, what is the new discreet style you use, and what store tosses speakers, tires, refrigerator, etc. I love what you are doing--very inspirational!!! We can easily afford groceries too, but just recently I was witness to a stores daily trash, was appalled, and have been researching since. Thanks for what you do!!

anonymous 5 years ago

I think it's incredibly cool that you are doing this. I wish I had the courage to. Where I live the laws dealing with it are scary, and I am terrified of going to jail. I am going to see what we can do locally to affect the laws, because this makes so much sense to do.

anonymous 5 years ago

i just love what you are doing. i don't live in the states but i am amazed of all the stuff that is trown away. if i lived there, i would be simply join u.

Ramkitten2000 profile image

Ramkitten2000 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

Wow, you're doing a wonderful thing. It's just incredible how much food is thrown away that's perfectly good. I applaud you for your amazing effort AND an excellent lens. *Blessed by an angel on the Back to School Bus Tour*

anonymous 5 years ago

hi. i too, dive for single moms and friends who need help. i see the products in your pic from s- food chain. are there any others? s- keeps me well stocked with their wastefullness. fyi i can tell you they are really bad at their plant as well. not too many take time to donate there. it means stocking palletts for st marys and teres too much work to do so they get little. easier to throw it away..

anonymous 5 years ago

Hey, I'm working on a freegan-oriented online community. Check it out:

anonymous 5 years ago

Here in Chicago the waste is absurd! Food, clothes, toys, hangers, OTC medicines & tons of paper in all forms that could be used in schools, for crafts or at least re-cycled are just a few of the things I have witnessed. One store throws away shoes when returned but not without first pressing out a large hole into the bottom of at least one in each pair to make them unusable. Clothes they take back or have not sold due to a tiny problem (ex. missing one button) are first CUT with scissors to make them unusable! What is the liability here? I have pulled apart dozens of these sweaters and donated the yarn. The food from the well known Drug Store has disgusted me for years, I showed all of this to our local news and they say people will not care about this sort of story - unless maybe I find proof that the food items are not expired. When I find the food items they usually are expiring the day they are thrown out, but completely fine & could be eaten that night by the hungry!!!

While I could I went daily to these dumpster and saved many usable / edible items from the landfill, sorted it & stored it until I could get it into the right hands.

When I see the huge amount of waste here from the 4 stores whose dumpsters are on our loading dock I try to imagine that this is just 4 stores waste - 4 stores. The American waste is HUGE and should not be allowed to happen on such large scale.

These same stores do not recycle ANYTHING - their own weekly flyers are tossed into the dumpster by the thousands come Saturday night closing time. The vendors supplying items at this upscale closing store package their goods in plastic that promotes recycling it..... these are in the garbage daily (wonder how that vendor would feel about that). As a single disabled Mother I just finally got overwhelmed by it all and had to step back. Would love to find help with changing it though!!!

tvyps profile image

tvyps 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

As long as they are not muffin stumps! They are hard to get rid of! (Seinfeld episode) lol.

CPDInteractive 5 years ago

wow, this is great information!!! Thank you for writing this :)

anonymous 5 years ago

the bins in the Netherlands don't contain food. But its quit normal to put and pick up good household stuff near the underground dumpsters. Really found some good furniture

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 5 years ago Author

@CPDInteractive: Hi, Thanks for your comment on my lens. Glad you liked it!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 5 years ago Author

@tvyps: LOL Thanks for your comment on my "secret freegan" lens!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 5 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi, Yes, the waste from U.S. stores is a tsunami of overwhelming items that are perfectly good! Thanks for doing your part in diverting some of it in Chicago to good use!

fionajean profile image

fionajean 5 years ago from South Africa

I can't believe that the stores are more concerned about being sued than helping the homeless - thank goodness most of our stores here donate the excess food so we don't have to go dumpster diving.

dolphinstar lm profile image

dolphinstar lm 5 years ago

This is a huge amount of food waste but i think rather than freegan it businesses should donate it to homeless shelters etc. Restaurants would have a huge amount of food they waste and that should be saved and taken to people in need. However it must be done with food hygiene in mind as the last thing a homeless person needs is a bout of gastro

anonymous 5 years ago

Thank you so much for what you do! My church youth group is participating in the Great Potato Drop this Saturday. I am creating flyers for the event. I would love to include some of your pics of watsed food to post at the event. Is there anyway you can share?

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 5 years ago Author

@anonymous: Yes, you are welcome to use photos from my site for your event. You can right click on a photo, choose copy, then paste it on your flyer. What is the Great Potato Drop?

anonymous 5 years ago

I work in the Deli for a NE Supermarket, the largest, we support local food banks, compost, and yet I feel we still throw so much stuff out.

LooLooBird profile image

LooLooBird 5 years ago

I think it's absolutely brilliant. I only learned about this trend a week or two ago, and I watched the documentary "DIVE! Living Off America's Waste". It was truly eye opening. To think that we have everything we need already to solve the hunger crisis taking over our nation, if only the grocery stores would open their eyes to the benefits of DONATING instead of TOSSING. The benefits spread across so many aspects, social, environmental, economical.....and honestly, it's nice to know that someone who clearly has it together isn't below doing this. I want to start scoping out dumpsters in my area!

CPDInteractive 5 years ago

Thanks for Great post. I really like this article.

anonymous 4 years ago

SUPER MARKETS AND SHOPS SHOULD GIVE IT TO THE HOMELESS... People should not have to beg.... Especially with the waste factor. However, I do love your Lens its wonderful lens. Thanks for sharing this.... And thank you for what you do. Wasn't shouting at you.. Supermarkets just make me soooo very angry allowing people to starve while they have wonderful products in their bins

microfarmproject profile image

microfarmproject 4 years ago

I understand why stores don't donate this food, but I applaud your efforts to make the food available to those who need it.

anonymous 4 years ago

Dear "Secret Freegan",

I contacted you on twitter, but imagine that isn't a very good way to reach you! I'm a graduate student and currently working on a book on the freegan movement, based on five years with the group in New York. I'm trying to get as diverse a range of perspectives as possible on the movement, and currently trying to get in touch with freegans and dumpster divers outside of New York.

What you are doing is absolutely incredible, and I would love to show it as one of the most proactive examples of how freegans are making the world a better place. I'm wondering if you have any interest in speaking with me. The conversation would be completely anonymous, if you chose, and I would give you a transcript so you could make sure you weren't misquoted in any way.

Thanks for your consideration, and sorry for bothering you,


anonymous 4 years ago

Dear "Secret Freegan",

I contacted you on twitter, but imagine that isn't a very good way to reach you! I'm a graduate student and currently working on a book on the freegan movement, based on five years with the group in New York. I'm trying to get as diverse a range of perspectives as possible on the movement, and currently trying to get in touch with freegans and dumpster divers outside of New York.

What you are doing is absolutely incredible, and I would love to show it as one of the most proactive examples of how freegans are making the world a better place. I'm wondering if you have any interest in speaking with me. The conversation would be completely anonymous, if you chose, and I would give you a transcript so you could make sure you weren't misquoted in any way.

Thanks for your consideration, and sorry for bothering you,


anonymous 4 years ago

I would love to help the hungry people in corpus christ texas, And yes I have looked in bin before, but not in this town, can you help me get started by telling me where to look. for a few day I walked house to house and called friends and family to help me with a few cans of food. to help MISSION 911 FILL THERE SHELVES, TO HELP FEED THE HOME LESS AND THE HUNGRG. AND I collected more then 80 cans. that made me very happy, but i would love to learn what you do to help GODS people. can you help me. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR WHAT YOU DO, GOD BLESS YOU ALL. Arcy Scogin.

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi, It sounds like you have great compassion for hungry people!

To get started at food rescue, I drove my car behind all the grocery stores in my area to see if there were bins, and if so I looked in the bins to see if there was anything of value.

90% of stores use a compactor or locked bins. So only a few stores are usually available. You need long sleeves and gloves so you don't get burned by the bin. I use a hoe to move boxes in the back of the bin filled with food closer to me so I can grab them. I also use a grabber tool as described on this website, for sale at Amazon. Walgreens also carries a high quality one for $21.99, near the pharmacy in the medical aisle.

After locating a store or two, you can do drive-bys during the day if you'd like, parking so you're able to drive away from their back door easily, a little ways from bins. See what times are best --most stores throw out throughout the day until 9 p.m. You could also get a headlamp like campers use so you can see what you're doing at night. Less chance of people seeing you at night.

If anyone starts to come close where they'd see me--a passing car, bicyclist, walker, jogger--I sit in the car and talk on my phone for a minute or drive off. If it is a manager (usually white shirt and tie) I definitely drive away immediately without speaking to them. They are angry if anyone touches their trash though it is legal to take abandoned goods.

I wear a back brace under my shirt like the one on this site to protect myself from pulling my back out from carrying heavy boxes. I work out daily with weights and yoga. One has to be in excellent physical shape to do this.

The best thing you can see in a bin is food stacked in boxes right up to the top. You easily grab the boxes and put one at a time in car. I have my car seats covered with old tarps, shower curtains, plastic tablecloths in case of drippage. Sort through the boxes later at home to determine which food is good. On many days, there is only stuff on the bottom of the bin. That's when using a grabber to bring up loaves of bread, entrees, fruits, etc. comes in handy. And the hoe to put in the corner of a heavy box and pull towards you.

When putting your hands in a bin, one must move slowly because sometimes there is broken glass, splintered wood, nails, etc.

Please e-mail me with any further questions. Good luck to you!

Secret Freegan

ibakir 4 years ago

hungry people are everywhere. job is to take care who is next to you. love that article with informative information. I've also have the same topic about how organic food can effect your living costs and your body health. no wonder when they said "Do you know the foods you eat can influence how you feel and how you look, and they can affect your health."

anonymous 4 years ago

Dear SecretFreegan,

I've just discovered this wonderful lifestyle. I would love to become a freegan myself and maybe even help the hungry (especially my close friend who has a lot of troubles at home), but I'm still a teenager making my way through high school, and I'm quite positive my parents would disapprove of this lifestyle completely. That fact doesn't bother me so much.

What does bother me is the laws about dumpster diving. I too live in Phoenix, AZ (pardon me if you don't live there, but from what I got, you do), and from what I've read, dumpster diving is illegal in this state. I don't want to get in trouble or arrested, especially if I'm still living with my parents. What are you tips and advice for dumpster diving in this state, and how exactly do you manage not to get in trouble with the law?

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this. I hope you have a wonderful day, and good luck with your dumpster dives!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Dear Maxx,

Thanks for writing me. Yes, I live in Phoenix, Arizona. And I have good news for you: Dumpster Diving (what I like to call "Food Rescue" is LEGAL in Phoenix and all of its suburbs such as Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale. They way I found out was calling the Legal Dept. of each city's Police Department. I've been featured on two local news shows and they checked with their lawyers and made sure it was legal before airing it too! Anything thrown out is considered "abandoned goods." No police person has ever seen me or hassled me in 4 years.

I am a middle-aged mom and maybe your parents would be open to your interest if they knew about the safety rules and ways to go undetected so as not to upset anyone I've developed over the last 4 years, And if they saw the absolutely awesome quality of the food. I've found 4 or 5 fridge-fulls of food in the last 2 days. I need to go deliver some now.

I'd be glad to show you the ropes and accompany you if we have your parent's approval.

Please e-mail me at info@secretfreegancom for more information.


Secret Freegan

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi Alex,

It was splendid meeting you this week and enjoying a productive food run together that yielded 2 fridges of yogurt, juice, lettuce, peppers, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, radishes, mangoes, avocados, tomatoes, 15 flower bouquets, corn chips, pita chips, apples, plums, etc... and thank you for helping me extract the 10' x 12' rug and the 6' x 8' rug from under yard waste debris in the bin. They both turned out to be almost like new and good quality.

I will be glad to help you further with any research you are doing on food rescue and green living.


Ginger Freebird

ibakir 4 years ago

wow that's huge and interested informative info we have here, I wish I would be a freegan for my self, too. I love and care of helping people. but its hard and no free time to think of the ways. God bless you.

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 4 years ago

Excellent lens - very inspiring. Squid Angel Blessed and featured on my own lens on the Hunger Site.

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 4 years ago

Back to let you know my son and I had a lively conversation about dumpster diving. He was amazed at your success. Tweeted this lens.

Frugal-UK LM profile image

Frugal-UK LM 4 years ago

Amazing You are amazing

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago

My mom was a dumpster diver. I don't know if she got food, but definitely other stuff. Blessings.

anonymous 4 years ago

Secret Freegan I am a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite school of journalism and would love to interview you for a radio story I am doing on freeganism! I think what you do is amazing and would like to tell more people about it!

anonymous 4 years ago

hi there,

I'm sorry to contact you slightly out of the blue, I came across your blog while researching an article on freeganism. My name is Mel Fallowfield and I'm a freelance journalist working working primarily for British women's magazines.

I really want to do a piece on having a freegan christmas and wondered if you might be interested in taking part.

It would be wonderful if you could..please do email me back with a good time to talk to you and a telephone number so I can explain it all more fully. There would be a payment for taking part which you could either keep or give to a charity of your choice. And I would of course be very happy to read anything back to you prior to publication or indeed email it to you and make any changes.

I so look forward to hearing from you,


Mel Fallowfield

DavidBradshaw 4 years ago

I think this is one of the most amazing pages on Squidoo. You are so right - we waste so much, and if we could just change, we could increase everybody's prosperity.

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi,

Please e-mail me at I can't see your e-mail address or how to reach you. Thank you!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi Mel,

Please send me your e-mail address. I am interested in your offer.

Thank you!

Secret Freegan

zabrinaw profile image

zabrinaw 4 years ago

Wow, this is such a fantastic lens and idea! While I'm still a little too shy about the idea, I'm definitely going to keep it in mind and would love to try it in the future.

anonymous 3 years ago

Hello, I am a university student who live in Korea and maybe in July or in June I'll visit NYC. I'm very interested in your activity and I don't like spend my time just walking around but doing some meaningful activity. While I and one of my friend stay in NY, I'd like to join Freegan. What shall we do?

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 3 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hi, I suggest going to this site of NYC freegans, join their mailing list, and tell them of your plans: See what activities they have planned during your visit. Have a wonderful trip!

If you stop by Phoenix, Arizona, I'll take you on a personal freegan adventure!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 3 years ago Author

@zabrinaw: Hi, Thanks for your comments! Yes, it takes a lot of courage to get into the food rescue activity! Personal safety is always the most important consideration. If you live in Phoenix, please contact me and I'll show you how to proceed with safety and abundant results!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 3 years ago Author

@anonymous: Yes, I enjoyed the interview. How did your piece turn out? Could you send me a link to it please?

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 3 years ago Author

@Frugal-UK LM: Thank you!

SecretFreegan profile image

SecretFreegan 3 years ago Author

@ibakir: Hi, Thanks for your interest. There are many ways to help those less fortunate--you will find a way!

zabrinaw profile image

zabrinaw 3 years ago

@SecretFreegan: Thank you for the generous offer -- that would be so amazing, but I live in Canada. Perhaps if I visit Phoenix someday, though!

Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 3 years ago from Colorado

It's really shocking to see all of this waste when so many are starving. Now you've got me wondering how much decent food gets thrown away in my region. Thanks for introducing me to this movement. Very inspiring.

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