Dumpster diving is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be useful to the dumpster diver. Dumpster diving is known as “skipping” in the UK; the term “dumpster” is American.The practice of dumpster diving is also known as bin-diving, containering, D-mart, dumpstering, tatting, or simply, recycling. A similar term is “binner” and is often used to describe people who collect recyclable materials for their deposit or resale value. Whatever we call it, these people are saving us from ourselves by keeping useful materials out of landfill.
I wish I took photos of all the flowers I’ve seen thrown away, or the flower someone gave me when I was walking away from a mostly still full green bin after filling my knapsack full of fruit – thank you random gentleman! – but I prefer not to take more than I need when dumpster diving.
Do you ever find flowers when you go dumpster diving?
You can find pretty much anything for free, especially if you’re okay with fixing stuff. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever found while dumpster diving that someone decided to toss in the trash?
Check out this guitar case someone threw out!
I’ve found lots of trash treasures… Most recently I found a purple miniskirt. It’s a big small, but sewing in side panels is a great way to make something unique. I also got a few ties, including a black silk tie with red embroidery.
Just be aware that if you are taking clothing from the street, it may have been placed there because of bedbugs. Inspect it closely before taking it home, and if you have a plastic bag place it inside and tie tightly.
To them, the philosophy is simple:
– How to D.I.Y or find what you need for free
– How to do this with the least amount of harm to the Earth and those living on it
A freegan feast!
They say that they don’t have major problems with family members over their lifestyle – I’ve personally experienced family having issues with my dumpster diving, but I do feel it comes from a place of love and not judgement. People are taught that garbage is “bad” and they often don’t realize that most trash is perfectly fine, until they see a fridge full of produce which looks just like the stuff in their fridge which they purchased from the grocery.
I’ve yet to have my mother eat any dumpstered food, but she does acknowledge that the food looks good and I look healthier after getting more produce in my diet.
Have you been able to get your family to follow suit with your freeganism? Or at the other extreme, do you have to hide it from them; and if so, do you think there is any way to get them to embrace or at least tolerate your freegan lifestyle?
In Austria people have made a cooking show called Waste Cooking, where the recipes are made from food taken from the trash. If you don’t know German you can still find out how to make the food. Here are the recipes, which you can copy/paste into an online translator (Ich wann zu geschmack die Bananen pancakes!)
Austrian law states that food items must be placed in a separate container, which makes dumpster diving easier and safer. Does your community have laws like this?
I like the one persons head lamp! Much easier than trying to navigate a dumpster while holding a flashlight, and safer than putting it in your mouth.
In Toronto, even people who use private garbage collection tend to place food items in separate bags – sometimes even separating it by type.
Do you prefer looking through green bins? Personally, I like not having to jump into a dumpster – but green bins are smaller and can be more difficult to go through without making a mess.
This image of dumpstered donuts reminds me of meetings where there would be so much leftover catered food. We would try to get people to take stuff home and bring the leftover pizza down to the security desk – but most weeks, there was always leftovers.
With work groups, there is a budget that needs to be maintained. This often means spending money that is not needed, to ensure the same amount of money being provided next year. There isn’t much a department head hates more than having their budget slashed.
When I was in charge of food, I was always under budget even though there was always enough food. I made sure to take time to go to the grocery store down the street to purchase healthy stuff from the produce, cheese and meat section, instead of picking up the phone to order-in pizza. We were able to pass the savings onto getting more items for program participants.
Do you have any negative experiences with capitalist workplace culture, and have you been able to do anything to improve it?
Freeganism and Dumpster Diving are commonly intertwined, since both are a way of removing yourself from consumerism and capitalism while fulfilling important needs such as eating. It’s also a way for people who do not want to economically support factory farming to still eat meat.