When I moved to Vancouver last year, my new roommates took me on my first dumpster dive. Originally, when they asked me if I wanted to come jump in a dumpster to look for food, I was a little bit repulsed – but I was intrigued enough to join in on the adventure.
I was shocked by what we found. Perfectly good fruit, vegetables, bread, and packaged goods were being tossed out. Sometimes they went in compost bins (which is still a waste, but not horrible), but sometimes they were going into bins destined for landfills (this is awful). It also seemed senseless: we were picking up plump tomatoes, piles of fresh asparagus, crunchy apples, bunches of lettuce, grapes, zucchinis, and even some baguettes that cost over $5 in the market. We got a few stares from tourists and our hands might’ve been covered in coffee grounds by the end of it, but dumpster diving won me over pretty instantly, for several reasons:
1. It saves you money. Fruit and vegetable prices (at least in Canada and Australia) are exorbitant! Eating unhealthy food can be the more economical alternative, although the health effects of eating cheaper food (lots of pasta, bread, and anything instant) will probably cost you more in the long run. However, with dumpster diving, you get to bring home crates of fresh fruits and vegetables 100% free. Sure, it’s the more selfish reason to do it, but it’s a good reason nonetheless.
2. Canadians waste $27 billion worth of food annually. Australians throw out $8 billion worth of food, and 20-40% of fruits and veg don’t even make it to supermarket shelves because they’re not pretty enough for customers. Nearly half the food in the United States is wasted. At the same time, 842 million people in the world go hungry on a daily basis. Obviously, having a few people dumpster dive food isn’t going to fill hungry stomachs around the world – but at least it lessens food waste and that giant, horrible disconnect between the extremes of chucking out food and never having enough of it.
3. It’s kind of fun. Every bin is a new surprise, and I always feel like I’m digging for gold. Enough said.
Even if you decide not to go hop in your local dumpster, learn a bit more about food waste and take steps to be more food wise. Shop a little more frugally and donate what you don’t use to homeless shelters or soup kitchens. Wondering how to actually go dumpster diving? You can learn more at WikiHow. Just curious to read more about it? This is also a pretty neat account from a dumpster diver. Enjoy.