Dumpster Diving

:In the Practice of Searching through public trash receptacles for edible food or discarded items that retain some use or value; -Merriam Webster


But we like to think of it as “Adult Treasure Hunting


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If you follow us on Instagram, then you know we are huge advocates for dumpster diving. Now I could say we do it because it’s cheaper than grocery shopping, and I could talk about how when you are self-employed every dollar counts, and well all of these things are very true. But we still grocery shop after we dumpster dive, (it just saves us about $150 every other week that we go,) and being self employed does apply, but not in any way that we are “starving” or not in our means of living without dumpster diving. It’s just a really cool bonus. Its an exciting feeling too, overtime you go anywhere, you think “oh I wonder what this store could have.” Over the years Adam and I have found everything from gourmet desserts we would never buy, cases and cases of beer and wine, upholstery from an old couch we turned into some winter mittens, brand new makeup or hair products, beautiful paintings and frames, and of course lots and lots of perfectly good food. More food than we can bring with us sometimes.

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We’ve even found tossed away lumber that we were able to finish a complete deck remodel with. (We asked the construction site if we could take their trash before we took anything)

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We also love to forage for food when we’re in nature. Lambs quarters grow almost everywhere and are like a free salty spinach from the earth! We also have lucked out with alot of wild strawberries and mushrooms this summer.. But of course we do alot alot of research before we eat any mushrooms we find, we don’t want an “Into the Wild” situation. We have a mushroom friend, shout out to our friend David for knowing everything about mushrooms to the point where we can just send him a picture and most of the time he will let us know! (also shout out to google..)

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: “Dumpster Diving is legal in the United States except where prohibited by local regulation. According to a 1988 Supreme Court Ruling (California vs. Greenwood) when a person throws something out, that item is now the public domain.”:

But of all the times we have dumpster dived, most people will not even give you a second glance, and the off chance some super market worker decides to have a power trip, the most is that they will ask us to leave. Which we do respectfully, and then come back later if we left anything.

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Dumpster diving is one of the most fun things, like we said earlier, it’s like treasure hunting, you never know what you will find. And although we have alot of fun finding free things we can either eat or make something out of, it is also frustrating and heartbreaking. Seeing so much waste everyday is insane. This is just from one trash can, from one store, in one town. The amount of waste our country creates is unfathomable and something has to change.

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The biggest reason we’ve heard people say why they won’t dumpster dive, is that they think it is gross. When you think of garbage you think of the worst smell, flies everywhere, and you image poop or some sort of vile substance that would be life altering if you touched it. Well I can reassure you that most dumpsters we pop into are pretty damn clean, unless you’re dumpster diving behind an old folks home, most of the garbage is just some form of a clean plastic packaging.

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When we dumpster dive at grocery stores, the grossest thing you will find is a smushed tomato, for the most part. If there is a bad lemon in the whole bag, we just pick out the bad lemon and boom we have a free $6 bag of organic lemons. We like to check the dumpsters before we go into the grocery store to see what we won’t have to buy, and then when do our actual grocery shopping we’ll try to price up how much all our dumpster food would be. Each time we save around $150 give or take. Most of the time stores have to toss their most expensive products because no one will buy them and they come up on their “expiration date,” so it never feels like were eating trash food, if anything we feast like kings.

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We’re not taking spoiled or gross food from the garbage, we’re taking the food that is still perfectly fine and just needs a quick rinse, like any food you buy from the grocery store. But grocery stores have to toss their products either the day before their expiration date or the day of their expiration date. Which means that that item probably has atleast another two weeks. Most of the time the items won’t be anywhere near their expiration date but if there is one bad apple in the bag, they will toss the entire thing out. Like really, they will do this with everything, grapes, avocados, tomatoes, any fruit in a bag. It’s unreal. And opens a huge door to all kinds of things I wouldn’t necessarily buy which lets us always get creative with our meals with new different ingredients each time.

The only thing we don’t grab is usually any dairy or animal product. We are both vegetarians so it’s not very hard for us to pass on meats (we will grab meat that is still cold and fully packaged every once and while to cook it up for our dog) but seeing perfectly good meats just tossed away boils our blood. If you think of all that goes into getting that meat, that animal living out (usually) the most grueling tortures life in a small confinement, injected with who knows what so its meat is “perfect and plump” only to be killed, then all those employees, the factory to wrap it, then ship it and drive it all the way across the country, that guys paycheck, and then to just go straight into the trash, how is that not illegal? We are so worried about being over populated when really we have plenty of land, and if we didn’t waste so much of our produce, we would be fine.

:“50% of all produce in the United States is thrown away-some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.”: Read that again and let it sink in.

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And in so many ways, if you arent fighting the problem, does that make you apart of the problem? Adam and I always try to grab more than we can eat in a few weeks so on our way home we can hand out food to homeless people on the corners we pass. So even if dumpster diving for food isn’t really your thing, maybe giving back to your community or just helping a person in need could be. It’s not as gross as you think it is and it takes only a few minutes to make a big difference.

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So don’t knock it till you try it.

And keep following us to watch us try to slowly but surely change our world one free watermelon at a time!

Adam Robison

Onus Art Projects, 2140 Eloise Avenue, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 96150