Dumpster Diving Tips
How to Dumpster Dive Safely
Secret Freegan has spent 4 1/2 years living a normal suburban life. Except she dumpster dives a couple times a day. She's donated $110,000 worth of abandoned goods to charity. She has saved $12,000 in grocery bills. She wants to show you the tools, safety precautions, and rewards of dumpster diving, e.g. all about freeganism, how to be a freegan, skipping, food rescue, food recovery, food activism, food waste documenter, modern day archaeologist, tree hugger, lover of nature, daring ways to help save the environment! E-mail me for free freegan training in Phoenix, Arizona.
3 Top Reasons You Should Never Try Dumpster Diving
1. Dumpsters are obviously disgusting and filthy.
They harbor germs galore, including those that could cause food poisoning, staph, and pneumonia...and 90% 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?
In the last 3 Â½ 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 SecretFreegan.com.
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