Welcome Dumpster Divers!

Are you a dumpster diver?

Do you want to be one?

It’s time to get down n’ dirty.

1. Dumpster divers will forage dumpsters for items such as clothing, furniture, food, and similar items in good working condition.

2. We see food as a natural resource that is essential to human survival and access to it as a global right.

3. We are “Sydney Specific”, so Sydney siders, get ready to dive!

Get Voting Divers!

“Stop breaking the law asshole!”

I love the movie “Liar Liar” starring Jim Carey.

So when I started creating this meme I could not get the image of Jim Carey screaming into a phone at a client out of my head. So fellow divers, abide by obvious signage. You’re still badasses cause you’re sticking it to the man by exhibiting your freegan values, but let’s do it without blatantly breaking the law, ok?

DISCLAIMER: We don’t condone breaking the law, we just enjoy memes. A lot.

NB: In this case, “assholes” is a term of endearment.

Originally posted on HERE on our Facebook page.

Diver Profile #6 – Alex Walker

Alex Walker

What inspired you to try dumpster diving?

Our society is ridiculously wasteful. As a result of Australia’s growing population and outlook on consumption, we have an unhealthy dependence on landfill for our waste management. Both my financial situation and my view on waste management prompted me to stick my head in my first Woolworth’s bin about 2 years ago. This particular bin was overflowing with eatable bread, fruit and vegetables that had just been thrown out that night. I couldn’t believe the waste, especially after working in poorer communities in South America and the Philippines who visibly struggle with finding enough to eat.

While dumpster diving is technically legal, how do you avoid such problems as trespass and private property laws when you go diving?

I tend to go diving at night when there isn’t lots of people around, but that’s not to say I don’t go in the daylight. All those laws can be avoided by 1) being sneaky, quiet and quick 2) being polite and telling security or the workers why you are doing it “Don’t want all this food to go to waste man and I don’t have a lot of money” 3) having a bike so you can get away fast 4) DON’T MAKE A MESS

How do you judge whether the food that you collect is healthy and eatable? Do you have concerns about eating off meat or infected fruit?

The smell, the colour and the touch (squishy) are all signs if what we’re taking from the bins is healthy. Its easy to go through a bin and just chuck the bad stuff to the side. We always give it a wash when we get home before we eat it and if we are concerned we boil or bake it until its crispy. I do occasionally think when I’m eating a piece of dumpstered meat or cheese, I wonder if I’ll get sick. But, you can be picky with what you want so that risk is minimal.

In terms of location, have you got any dumpsters that you particularly like to go diving in? What is it about those dumpsters that is so appealing?

Marrickville metro bins – Woolies, Aldi, Bourke St Bakery, Leichardt shopping centre bins, Cheese Factory Alexandria, Broadway shopping Centre bins (not easy access). There is plenty to go around and easy access.

A big part of our website is hoping to create an online community where dumpster divers can share ideas and experiences of getting their hands dirty. What means do you currently use for communicating with other divers and checking up on laws, dumpster locations etc?

We use a facebook group between about 5 other houses in the inner west to communicate when there is a good haul. We share our hauls, talk over locations and sometimes have big cook up with everyone’s reapings. We don’t talk about the laws, they’re not a concern to us.

Finally what would you say to people who view dumpster diving with disgust, who think it is a dirty, illegal and unhygienic pastime?

I’ve met a lot of people who view dumpster diving with disgust, mainly from the North Shore. Best thing to do is invite them along to a dive and it will change their mind, or invite them over for dinner and feed them and then tell them it was all dumpstered. Tell them about the waste, the amount and variety of foods, the fact that ‘best before’ foods are still safe to eat after the date as long as they are not rotten. Point out that sometimes the packages are tiered so the product had to be thrown away, but it’s perfectly fine to eat. That the bread was made fresh that day but they can’t sell it. Tell them how much money you save. Tell them that you found a pair of boots and backpacks the other day in the Aldi bins and one of the employees was ordered to get a knife and slit right down the side so they couldn’t be reselled  [sic] and how much of a waste that is. Or tell them they’re wankers.

Diver Profile #5 – Stephanie Payne

jfpoe-3

What inspired you to try dumpster diving?

For some people, dumpster diving is an incredibly social thing. I heard about it through friends, they would spin stories of their ventures and, naturally, one becomes intrigued. I was invited along to some bins in Surry Hills and we pulled out onions, celery and flowers. That night we had the heartiest soup and several bouquets about the house. Dumpster diving is exciting, fun and immensely rewarding. However, what was initially just a series of adventures became a motivated ritual. Dumpster diving reveals the incredibly flawed system of food distribution and while this loophole exists for divers to put use to the vast quantity of usable and fresh (yes fresh!) food – I hope we’ll get to a point where they’ll be a more intelligent distribution of food and a more sustainable culture of consumption.

How do you avoid problems such as trespass and private property while dumpster diving?

When dumpster diving, the legality of things can certainly get blurry. Reclaiming food from bins is not illegal, but of course there can be times when you quite clearly trespass. Setting up your own set of rules can give you something to work on. I go by a few rules that I’ve picked up from people around me. When dumpster diving, that’s all your doing, don’t go for anything else, don’t be destructive, leave the place clean, pick a lock (don’t bust it) and be discreet (the last one helps the most). I’ve never gotten into legal problems, nor do I think the risk of being nabbed by police is an issue. Dumpster divers aren’t criminalized in my experience. When I meet an employer of the supermarket, I find it important to stay calm, confident and cordial – I’ve only ever been asked to move on twice. In fact you’ll be surprised how indifferent or sympathetic some of the crew are.

How do you determine what’s good food? Are you concerned about eating meat or infected food?

Dumpster diving can be a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work some times. Being discerning, digging around for the right stuff, becoming familiar with chuck out times (so you get the food before it’s been sitting around for long) is important. Dumpster divers definitely establish ‘relationships’ with some bins, some are just constantly yielding good food. I, for one, go to one bin in particular (a lot) where I get meat products that are still hot from the oven (and delicious). The trust I have in this bin is fairly high, it would take me a lot of convincing to try meat from other bins. As for coming across infected food, I’ve never really experienced this, nor am I sure what that might entail. Scanning food and giving it a big wash when you get home usually does the trick!

Have you got dumpsters that you particularly like diving in? What is it about that dumpster?

As I mentioned, I have a favourite bin where I trust the food is good, it’s reliable and I love the food I get from it too. But the biggest attraction to this bin is the attitude of the staff at the shopfront. They’re supportive, welcoming and position foods in separate bin bags for easy access. To me, this shows that the people who make and sell the food, care enough about it for the left overs to be properly used and appreciated. Quite a contrast to the larger supermarket enterprises!

What means do you currently use to communicate with other divers about checking up on laws, dumpster etc?

When talking about the legalities with other divers, it rarely goes beyond talking about which bin locations have more aggressive staff and big fences. But as for new digs, it mainly rests on word of mouth news and going out for a dumpster date. I know some divers are protective of their bins and what the best times are. There are also dumpster wikis and forums where people can make call outs and find people to meet up with. I haven’t used this service, but I know several people who do something like this with people who are travelling through or new to the city.

What do I say to people who think it’s a dirty past time, unhygienic, illegal etc?  

To be honest, if I find some one really disapproves of my diving habits, I usually laugh it off and move the topic along. Diving doesn’t suit everyone’s taste, and I’m resigned to that. But when people genuinely are curious, I definitely let spill how rewarding diving is. As a student, it has helped me get by in an expensive city, it has diverted a lot of waste, it isn’t at all unhygienic, it’s social, fun and you work more for your food rather than passively consuming it – these are all points I’m only touching upon but when you unpack them properly, just one would suffice enough to consider turning to the bins for!

Diver Profile #4 – Shane Fenwick

Shane Fenwick
What inspired you to try dumpster diving?

For me, there were a number of things that inspired me to undertake dumpster diving. One was the amount of people that I knew doing it, who were a part of intentional communities and were able to provide meals mostly from diving. If there is free nutritious food available; why not? Secondly – and I think more importantly – was the fact that we as a society are throwing away large amounts of food, whilst in many places of the world people are starving. If that isn’t mind boggling, then I don’t know what is! How can we sacrifice perfectly edible food, all for the sake of profit and presenting what is most pleasing to the consumer? For me, diving is a way of acting in resistance to a system which functions on these principles. And in doing say, we are able to provide food for ourselves and our community. I think that that is a beautiful thing.

While dumpster diving is technically legal, how do you avoid such problems as trespass and private property laws when you go diving?

There are a number of rules we always strive to abide by when diving. First, always be honest and transparent. Don’t try and hide what you’re doing – because you don’t have anything to hide! And secondly, if you’re told to move on, respect that call.

How do you judge whether the food that you collect is healthy and eatable? Do you have concerns about eating off meat or infected fruit? 

Generally, we just make judgment calls at the time. If the food smells bad or looks off, then we either leave it or take it home to add to the compost or worm farm. Many people automatically think that food will be bad simply because it’s in the dumpster, but you’ll be surprised, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. I am a little more cautious with things like meat or dairy. But again, it comes down to a judgment call at the time. It’s usually quite easy to tell if that food is ‘bad’.

In terms of location, have you got any dumpsters that you particularly like to go diving in? What is it about those dumpsters that is so appealing?

In terms of locations, not particularly. However, we do find that the dumpsters of large food chains usually provide the best ‘yields’ – like ALDI, Woolworths, and Coles.

A big part of our website is hoping to create an online community where dumpster divers can share ideas and experiences of getting their hands dirty. What means do you currently use for communicating with other divers and checking up on laws, dumpster locations etc?

At the moment, it is mainly through word of mouth and people I know personally. However, there are a number of groups via social media that have been started up to share ideas and experiences with one another. This website sounds fantastic – the more, the merrier!

Finally what would you say to people who view dumpster diving with disgust, who think it is a dirty, illegal and unhygienic pastime?

Come and dive with us one time! You’ll be surprised. It’s not as dirty and unhygienic as you think it is, and it certainly isn’t illegal. We always welcome and love having more people get involved.

Dive Adventure #2

This evening my mum and I walked up to the local Woolworths mini-supermarket to find their bin!

Luckily enough this complex is rather small and the bins were around the back in an open parking lot. 

Visibility was pretty poor, so it was lucky that we had torches with us.

We didn’t find too much that was useful. A lot of the contents of the bin was old boxes, wrapping and packaging materials. However we did find some packaged greens, some loose cabbage and lots and lots of tomatoes. There was also lots of packets of chicken but we decided that it was best to leave them there.

Overall, quite a success!

DaraImage