I guess I should have written something like this sooner, but instead I’m doing it now. I’m going to give some FIYs, what to do and what not to dos, and some general information about dumpster diving.
First, let me explain what dumpster diving is and why people choose to engage in it.
Dumpster diving is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners.
Why Do People Dumpster Dive?
There are several reasons why people go dumpster diving. To people who are not part of the dumpster diver’s community, it is for people who need it out of financial necessity. But for many people, it is activism. People who are protesting commercialism, our throwaway society, or just plain wastefulness are multiplying everywhere and they call themselves freegans. Freegans, in my personal and amateurish opinion, are freakin geniuses. They have come realize that no matter what you buy, who you buy from, or where you buy it from, you end up in some way or another supporting something deplorable. They realized that it wasn’t just a corporation here or there that caused trouble, it was the whole system. They’re solution? Just don’t buy anything. They avoid buying anything to the greatest degree that they can possible obtain. For others, it’s a way to recycle. Some do it as a way to save money or to live more simply. Some do for fun. For them it’s like a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt.
My research has led me to conclude that freegans and people who dumpster dive for food are the most common groups in the dumpster diving community. When most hear about them, they’re first reaction is ‘EWWWW!!! Doesn’t get thrown away for a good reason, like for being rotten?
I’m walking into unfamiliar territory for this one, but as far as I can tell the answer is no. Not really. People are very picky about what the food they buy look like and merchandisers know this. Sometimes cans of food are thrown away simply because it has a dent. Boxes of cereal are thrown away because there is a tear in box even though the bag is still perfectly untouched. Sometimes food is thrown out because it’s shaped weird. Expiration dates are the most misunderstood identification tags on the planet. Stores know that people will buy the produce with the date that is the most time away from the current date. So after a certain date, stores will throw away products because it’s too close to the expiration date. Meat, dairy, eggs, fresh produce, all thrown away because of an expiration date. What people need to know is that expiration dates are more like guidelines. Just because you find something past its date doesn’t mean it’s bad. But this also does not mean you should eat everything you find in the dumpster. Look food over, don’t go too far past the expiration date, and be careful of what you eat from the dumpster. After restaurants close, they throw out all food products from that day.
I haven’t gotten quite this far, but I’ve done tons of research and talked to people have eaten food from dumpsters and they say that they have never gotten sick. I’m taken this process one step at a time, so when I get this far, I’ll update more about it.
Dumpster diving ethics:
Whether you do this for fun, for protest, or out of necessity, there are few things to consider.
You’re not the only one diving. Other people do it too. If you find a dumpster of tons of cool stuff, like computer parts or good food or anything that people may need, then take some and leave some. Also, clean up your mess. Don’t leave trash laying around for store owners and such or other dumpster divers to clean up. Dumpster diving is frowned on my many and we don’t need any extra help in that area.
Another question people tend to have is, is it legal?
So far, I have done a little research on this and for the states I’ve researched it’s not illegal, but in some states and places it is frowned upon. It’s different if the dumpsters are on private property or locked. If you break into them, then you’re probably looking at something like trespassing and you’ll probably get into trouble. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing and try not to look guilty doing it.