way to reduce food wastage, minimise your carbon footprint and save heaps of money at the same time. Also known as “skip dipping,” dumpster diving is an increasingly popular activity which is practiced by people of all walks of life, all around the world. It isn’t just an activity for people of low socio-economic background – increasing levels of middle class people are choosing to save money this way too.
It involves going through commercial bins, dumpsters and rubbish to find edible food and other goods. Typically in developed countries, supermarkets, bakeries and other food stores throw away a large amount of edible food. This is because it may not be cosmetically “perfect”, or may be too close to going off to sell. Whilst some may be given to charities which feed the homeless, large amounts are still wasted.
Tips for dumpster diving
If you’re willing to get a bit dirty, get stared at and potentially get yelled at by the store manager, then dumpster diving might just be for you. It’s possible to feed yourself almost exclusively from the dumpster.
- Obviously, be wary of use by dates. Don’t take any dairy or meat products that are warm, mouldy or otherwise not edible. Be choosy with what you take. If you aren’t sure if something is still fresh, don’t take it. Inspect fruit and vegetables for signs of mould.
- Try to dive at night – you are less likely to be seen or caught by store employees. If you are caught or confronted, just stay calm and walk away.
- When diving, wear loose fitting clothing that covers your skin. Wear gloves and covered shoes. Particularly if you’re going inside the dumpster, you want to avoid getting cut.
Why is dumpster diving a green activity?
By dumpster diving, you are reducing your contribution to the extremely wasteful and resource-intensive food economy. Because you are eating food that was produced but never sold, and would otherwise be wasted, your carbon footprint from eating this food is zero. You did not pay for the food to be produced, and therefore you are not responsible for the animals or resources used, or the large amounts of water and land used to produce the food.
Additionally, by eating food from the dumpster, you are reducing the amount you would otherwise contribute to the cycle of food production. By taking some potatoes from the dumpster, you do not buy potatoes from the supermarket, meaning you are decreasing demand for food. If enough people reduce demand in this way, supply would consequently reduce as well, hence decreasing food production and the consequent strain on the environment.
Additional benefit – cut down on your expenses
If you can manage to source most of your food through dumpster diving, then you will be surprised how much money you can save. After all, if you could reduce wastage and eat for free at the same time, why wouldn’t you?