I have an explanation for why many people think “dumpster diving” is gross, cheap (in the negative sense), and something they would never do. It’s because recovering reusable and recyclable items from the trash, is largely a political statement. Many people are conditioned to reject things political in nature, so they reject dumpster diving which is a huge embodiment of political problems, from municipal right up to federal and global policy.
Two weeks of workplace trash, inspected by the people who threw it away, yielded tons of recyclable, or easily reusable material.
It’s not just the homeless and starving that happily walk up to a dumpster with the intention of taking things out of it, instead of discarding “trash”. There are organized, and unaffiliated dumpster divers who do it as a hobby or for political activism too.
Money is thrown out regularly. Besides the usual pennies, there are entire piggy banks that get discarded because the waster didn’t take the effort to roll or spend the coinage they collected. I’ve found caches of coins multiple times, outside my home in a block of apartment buildings. When you think of how many apartment buildings there are across the country, multiply those thousands of coins by how many dumpsters contain hastily discarded items at move-outs, and it’s no wonder the Canadian Mint has to make so much costly new coinage every year.
I love the part where the guy incredulously states that, “They don’t throw out food that looks like that!” Yes sir, they do every day, and that’s why it’s easy to be freegan, without being “desperate” or “undignified”. Assumptions about people who salvage “trash”, can often be wrong because the incomprehensible levels of waste go unnoticed by those not keeping an eye on the bins.
Keeping all that in mind, I hope it doesn’t turn your stomach to think that people might eat food out of trash bins. We’re not talking about half eaten sandwiches, t-bone steaks, or spoiled yogurt. Last year that was my perception, but that was last year. There are soup cans and packages, noodles, cereal, grains, candies, and a multitude of foods that don’t easily spoil or expire which are pitched by people and stores that bought too much and their greed or inability to store/distribute the food simply caught up with them. Freegans protest this waste by stopping as much of it as they individually can, both by saving good food, and avoiding/reducing monetary support of the system that wastes the food in the first place.