Dumpster Diving

by Katia on May 26, 2010

Would you go crawl around in a dumpster for food? This is not a hypothetical question. I don’t mean if you were homeless and hungry. I mean right now. Would you go out and crawl around in a dumpster for food? Yes or no?

Occasionally I see people rummaging around in the garbage cans next to a supermarket shortly after the supermarket has closed. They are dressed just like you and me, but like a reflex reaction I feel bad for them as if they were poor and wanting. I’ve never stopped to talk to them so they could be poor and wanting, or they could simply be dumpster diving.

More and more people are concerned about their environmental impact and want to know how things are made and what effect they might have. For some people that means buying “refill” packages and for others that means turning to dumpster diving to try to reduce the amount of needless waste that is produced. And there certainly is a lot of waste.

This was plain to me the one time an acquaintance took me on his daily “gleaning” run. The dumpster at the back of a neighborhood bakery was full of paper bags and in turn each paper bag was brimming with loaves of bread wrapped in plastic for sale. I marveled at the variety of breads there: challah, herb, Italian, cinnamon-raisin… This was their day-old bread, the acquaintance explained to me. He extracted two loaves and invited me to do the same. I took a loaf of challah, which later that night I was surprised to find was tender and delicious as though fresh from the bakery and not plucked from the dumpster instead.

Since then I suppose my bourgeois sensibilities have kept me away from the dumpster and steered me towards the refill packages at the supermarket. So am I hypocrite then? Probably. But I never said I wasn’t.


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