Are you really talking about dumpster diving again?

Yes, I am. I’m talking about it because, after my initial post on the topic, this uptight, misophobic prepster went!

I did some research on the topic and learned about the people who get by via dumpster diving (and similar pursuits). What I found remarkably interesting is that most of these people, who are called “freegans,” do not need to dumpster dive but actually do it as part of a greater lifestyle choice. According to that venerable reference site, Wikipedia, freeganism is “an anti-consumerism lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed. The lifestyle involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters that have passed, or in some cases haven’t even passed, their sell by date, but are still edible and nutritious. They salvage the food not because they are poor or homeless, but as a political statement.”

Freeganism was something I could support wholeheartedly (even if I did not become a freegan myself) and I wanted to see it in action. I coaxed my friend into going dumpster diving again.

After a few drinks – c’mon, you really didn’t expect me to climb into a dumpster stone cold sober, did you? – we arrived out back behind the yuppie bakery where our infamous diving was to occur. I zipped my Northface jacket and threw my hair into a ponytail, certain my sporty look would blend nicely with any freegans we might meet.

A quick survey of the area told me I was wrong. There were three people there hunting for bread. Two had arrived on bicycle and the third in a small, old sedan. They all looked extremely crunchy but none appeared homeless or anything close. One guy looked slightly dirty, but in a very deliberate, I-could-shower-if-I-wanted-but-I-prefer-to-conserve-water type of way.

“What are you waiting for?” my friend said. “Hop in!”

I took a deep breath and hoisted myself over the side and into the dumpster. To my indescribable relief, I found that the dumpster contained bread – and only bread. There was no garbage in sight. In fact, every loaf of bread was wrapped in the bakery’s fancy signature bag. It was dumpster diving for snobs! All of a sudden, my adrenaline kicked into high gear and the allure of free food overcame me. I began scavenging through the mountain of bread like a ravenous animal.

When all was said and done, I wound up with 10 gourmet loaves of bread and 5 bags of rolls in the trunk of my car. The excitement was still pulsing through my veins as I headed home. By the time I reached my apartment, however, my adrenaline died down and my rational neuroticism had returned. With the exception of the rolls, the bread was in unsealed bags. What if rodents had crawled into the dumpster? What if someone’s shoes that touched the bread? Unable to shake my general craziness, I would up discarding the 10 unsealed loaves in the dumpster in my apartment building. I kept the 5 bags of rolls, since I decided they were safe to eat.

The next morning, my ex came over.

“Where did all of these rolls come from?” he asked, eyeing the bags on my counter.

I paused. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was now eating from a dumpster, no matter how socially conscious it made me.

“They were on sale,” I said.

Of course, my ex occasionally reads my blog and he will find out where the rolls actually came from. It’s easier to say it in writing than verbally. Also, my friend took a picture of me in the dumpster which I will begrudgingly share on here once we upload it off her camera phone.

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7 Replies to “Are you really talking about dumpster diving again?”

  1. Wow, that actually sounds quite fun. I wish I had places like that around here… sure would love some free bread!

  2. Too funny- I am somewhat neurotic by nature so the thoughts about rodents in the bag would have been enough to have me toss the bread away too.

  3. Amber,
    You write so very well! I totally felt like you were right here telling me this story! ha

    I would love to be a freegan. When people have talked about what they would do if they won the lottery I always chime in with my dream.

    I would love a total barter market place. You know where you bring your goods and trade for what you may need. Even one with skills can barder his labor for something.

    I would not limit it to food. Two of my brothers are a framers. I am sick by the loads of lumber that get thrown away because of a flaw in the wood or it was part of a tear down and has too many nails.

    The sad fact of my lack of freeganism is I am also a pathetic shop-a-holic and materialistic beyond belief.

    Maybe I can go to a hypnotist!!

    I am loving your site!!!

  4. I’m repulsed.

    But oddly curious and if someone in LA was doing it I’d go along with my trusty camera.

    But I’d also bring Purell and a bottle of Whiskey. The Purell is obvious, the whiskey just makes it fun.

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